Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day
October 12, 2021
If you've been experiencing an inability to pay attention, you're not alone. Even if you don't feel it, you're probably still plagued by it. Amishi Jha knows why, and how to help.
Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day by Amishi P. Jha, HarperOne
Amishi Jha doesn’t think you’re paying enough attention. In fact, she knows you’re probably not, because she has been studying the issue for 25 years and understands that distractibility is an inherent part of the human condition, the way the human mind naturally works. It's not just you. It's everybody.
Jha is the co-founder of the Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative at the University of Miami, and currently serves as its Director of Contemplative Neuroscience. As she explains it, our distractibility, once a tool to help us survive, is now undermining our ability to thrive:
Our distractibility served us well when predators lurked around every corner. However, in today’s technologically saturated world, we’re feeling that distractibility more than ever, and we face new predators that rely on and exploit our distractibility.
You can probably relate to the symptoms—brain fog, anxiety, lack of focus, and feeling out of touch with the people around you—she explains as ultimately being attention-related. And you’ll be elated to know that you don’t have to suffer through them. Yes, we are living in an attention economy where our very focus is up for sale, but we “can only use our attention in the here and now—in this moment,” which means we have ultimate control over this precious commodity. We just have to maintain our control over it. According to Jha, the most important three things to know about our attention is that it is powerful, fragile, and trainable. It is that last one that is so critical for us today, because, as she writes:
I want to make one thing clear: there is nothing wrong with your attention. In fact, it’s working so well, and so on cue, that computer programs can predict how it will respond. We’re in a crisis because our attention works so well.
Trying to fight a constant war against those distractions is not a winning strategy. What we need to do is learn how to pay attention to our attention, which essentially means retraining how our brains work. But she knows it can be done. In her lab at the University of Miami, Jha and her team have helped people in some of the most stressful and mentally demanding jobs—firefighters, athletes, business and medical professionals—do just that. Her new book translates those lessons to the page, using mindfulness training to update our standard way of thinking and increase our awareness and attention not only in our everyday, but in every moment.