“To control attention means to control experience, and therefore the quality of life.”

in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Positive Thinking, Writers

-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life, New York: Basic Books, 1997, p.128.

Here’s the paragraph in its entirety:

To control attention means to control experience, and therefore the quality of life. Information reaches consciousness only when we attend to it. Attention acts as a filter between outside events and our experience of them. How much stress we experience depends more on how well we control attention, than on what happens to us. The effect of physical pain, of a monetary loss, of a social snub depends on how much attention we pay to it, how much room we allow for it in consciousness. The more psychic energy we invest in a painful event, the more real it becomes, and the more entropy, it introduces into consciousness. To deny, repress, or misinterpret such events is no solution either, because the information will keep smoldering in the recesses of the mind, draining away psychic energy to keep it from spreading. It is better to look suffering straight in the eye, acknowledge and respect it’s presence, and then get busy as soon as possible focusing on things we choose to focus on.

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