You Are What You Notice

How your attentional filters create your everyday experience


In the opening pages of the book “Rapt”, the author Winnifred Gallagher makes the grand statement that attention is the number one thing that has determined your life experiences and well-being thus far. “Who you are, what you think, feel and do, what you love — is the sum of what you focus on.” Winnifred’s argument is that we are what we have paid attention to. It’s a bold statement but I’m sold.

I read this page to my partner and we had an interesting discussion about how our past experiences have shaped our current attentional filters. He grew up as a redhead and lived in a somewhat chaotic household, consequently, he learned to become astutely aware of any signs of belittling or conflict. My appearance on the other hand did not invite remark and my family household was calm. I’ve noticed that my conflict-seeking attentional filters are not as sensitive and I often miss the nuances of more charged social situations that my partner easily sees.

Conflict seeking or conflict… wait, what conflict?

In fact more than a few times someone has spoken to me regarding a simmering situation at work and I’ve had to pretend that I understand what they’re talking about, when in fact I’ve not noticed it at…