This might sound strange, but the ability to shift one’s attention from one thing to another is the result of evolution: if prehistoric man had lost himself in admiring a beautiful landscape, a flower, or any one of the wonders of nature, it could have cost him dearly.
Unfortunately however, today’s world is really putting human capacity to stay focussed to the test, because it continues to provide various types of entertainment, and exposes us to a deluge of information, in an attempt to steer our daily actions: as politicians and mass media know, the hunt for our attention has begun.
It takes very little to understand our subjective reality, meaning the world in which we perceive and experience what surrounds us, and it varies based on what we give our attention to: the quality and quantity of attention that we pay to things, and to people, alters our perception of their value.
Human beings should be able to regulate their levels of attention, based on needs and circumstances. For example, when we learn to drive a car, we are entirely focussed on it, because one small distraction could have serious consequences. As it gradually becomes familiar to us however, driving becomes increasingly automatic, and the person at the wheel is able to chat with the passenger beside them, or listen to the radio. But what if it suddenly starts pouring with rain? The driver is likely to ask the passenger to be quiet, to lower the volume of the music, and switch from “autopilot” to “manual mode”.
The problem nowadays, is that not everyone is able to make the most of the marvellous mechanism of attention, or at least not all of the time.