Attention and Awareness

Much of our experience is made up of what we pay attention to. Our landscape is therefore made up from and biased by the things we pay the most attention to. Attention and Awareness is our first design element for our Landscape for Happiness.

Increasing our well-being or creating more moments of flourishing is powerfully influenced by our ability to pay attention to and focus upon things that make us happy, help us experience positive emotion, remind us of what is most meaningful to us, allow us to use our strengths, and reflect upon the more optimistic and positive aspects of our lives.

It is also influenced by our ability to manage our attention when we are challenged by difficult circumstances, situations, or people; when we are disappointed by our own behaviour or that of others. Managing the way in which we pay attention to or focus on these moments or circumstances, allows us to move on faster if that is what we wish to do, bring to mind previous times when circumstances were better than present, or to imagine a time in the future when they will be improved.

Just imagine developing the ability to get rid of an annoying and unhelpful thought on demand and replacing it with something more pleasant or useful. Imagine being able to wilfully determine what thoughts occupy your mind, how long we focus on a particular stimulus without being distracted. Imagine being able to focus more on the positive traits of a work colleague rather than the annoying things they may do. Imagine failing to reach a goal and rather than being utterly defeated, be able to reflect upon what you have achieved, learned or contributed along the way.

At least some of all of these things are available to us all. This part of the Landscape focusses upon practices that enhance our capacity to deliberately direct our attention and awareness towards aspects of our momentary experience that allow us to function at our best, at our happiest, and in a more authentic and meaningful way.