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The Rhythm of the Quality of our Attention

by Madison Asher

What if we lived in a world that put a higher premium on the quality of our experiences over the contents of them? What if we measured our days by the way we were experiencing them rather than what we did? When asked “how was your day”, rather than outlining the itinerary of what you did or who you saw – went to the gym, chatted with my mom, wrote 6 emails, closed a deal, – how might you use qualities of the experience as an answer?

I can think of many instances where the same contents of one day might happen again on another, yet my experience of them can be vastly different. I spoke to my sister both days, but one day I felt more patient as I listened; I went to the grocery store both days, yet felt more at ease the second day; I organized my upcoming trip yet felt more urgency one day over the other. When I think back to the memories, I conjure up less about the unique contents of each day and more about the feeling instilled in me from engaging with the to-do list. I believe this is the case because the quality of attention we bring to each experience is the more accurate measure of our progress than the elusive mirage of achievement that we convince ourselves lives on the other side of the to-do list. If we continue to measure our lives by the qualities of our experiences, what might become possible? This shifts where we place our energy and attention. If the contents are no longer the focus, then the space that’s worth our effort lives within us. How do we do this? We find opportunities to exercise our attention muscles. We’ve probably all heard “wherever you go there you are”. I remember this coming to mind while on a beautiful beach in the tropics on a sunny day and feeling... not so great. How can I feel so sad in paradise? Because the outer contents didn’t matter. The inner world required more attention to be attuned to what was available to experience. If we wake up each day wanting to feel that we’re progressing toward something, why not shift it from the realm of contents and into the realm of quality? Rather than striving to move the needle towards adding something new to our lives, what would it look like to strive to move the needle in the way we experience each facet of our lives as it is?

Whether with RhythmetriX, a run, a coaching session or a meditation, ask yourself how you’re engaging with your attention muscles. Are they more refined today than they were yesterday? If not, what are you willing to do about it?

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