Do Not Expand Your View. Instead, Pay Attention.

by Augusto Cuginotti

One of the books I enjoyed reading as a kid was Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Part because of the detective stories and his magic deduction powers, of course, but I do remember one thing about Holmes’ character that was oddly impressive: his ability to focus his attention in what he wanted to learn .

This might not be a guide for learning, but made me think in the advantages of thinking deeply on what matters to me and trust the ability of others in their learning about many other important things one can care about.

After I’ve started writing about Paying Attention, I’ve got the results of it: paying attention on paying attention I came across others reflecting on similar things.

Here is what I’ve learned:

  • Pay Attention, it’s important;
  • Not everything that deserves attention can be measured;
  • Expand our view can hinder our ability to see.

What do you pay attention to?


Everyday millions of events happen around us and most of them we don’t even notice. Lucky us.

If we’ve already have lots of things processing in our minds everyday, imagine if all that was available would become conscious. Certainly stress at 10 in the morning.

To change new things we have to pay attention to new things.

It is only on the things that we pay attention to that we have conscious influence for change. If we want to make things differently, we have to start paying attention to them. In the same direction, if we want to change new things, we have to pay attention to new things.

Measure and Analyse


One of the interesting ways to change is to measure and analyse. Measure and analyse are gifts for us humans, but they rely on looking at the past and planning the future. They use your attention of the present to travel through time. Even though knowing how to measure and analyse is a fundamental learning for life in society, there is more on the horizon.

Not everything that deserves attention can be measured.

We just have to be careful not to be carried away. Analyse can highjack and monopolise all your attention. If practised all the time, they are practices that constantly take us away from the present. Measure and analyse less, pay more attention.

Do not expand your View


Change the focus of our attention is to change our view. Expand our view, in the sense of paying attention to more, is a pathway to undermine your ability to see.

Look at few things with great attention.

On the other hand it is essential to change our view. Not to expand it, but to change your view from time to time, expanding the number of views you experience. It is like knowing how to tell many versions of the same story, like inviting yourself to look again.

The best way to change your view is by truly being with the other. By looking at others we change our way of looking. It is in contact with other worlds, result of being with the other, that we look with other eyes and learn new stories.

Attention Requires Energy


Which does not mean people can’t pay attention to more than one thing at a time. I personally can’t, but I know aliens that have a fantastic parallel processing unit, all in one single brain!

But even for those crafty multi-taskers, in the end our attention requires energy and there is a limit for what we can take and give. If you deal with many things in parallel you will quickly cease to pay attention.

Paying Attention on Paying Attention


  • Store energy to pay attention to what matters.
  • In a world that information is abundant, learn how to ignore the ones that distract you.
  • From time to time pay attention in the way you pay attention.
  • Pay attention in a few things at a time.
  • Always consider changing what you are paying attention to.

Read more


  • Paying Attention Develops the Brain’s Plasticity in Rethinking Complexity
  • The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time
  • Chris Corrigan’s How to make a learning journey.
  • The Attention Merchants book review.
  • I’m reading Adous Huxley’s last novel, Island. You will meet Pala, an idylic island where the birds will constantly call for Attention!
  • Dadi Janki’s quote on “learning to live a very simple life”:

    If you don’t have the power to pack up and the power to merge, then the whole of your life will be in a continuous state of expansion. You will then have to think a lot in order to manage everything.