• Innovative


Daniel Goleman, author of the groundbreaking, mid-‘90s classic Emotional Intelligence, turns his attention to the subject of attention – and explains why focus is essential for navigating life, performing at your best, leading others and, ultimately, improving the world for future generations. His illuminating explanations of brain functions will be useful to businesspeople and educators. Ironically, Goleman digresses often, and his efforts to incorporate issues that matter to him – such as climate change and economic inequality – prove confusing. Still, he’s superb at thoughtfully explaining how people think and feel. getAbstract finds that his simple explanations of the workings of the human brain, and his depiction of focus as a triad of attention paid to “inner, other and outer” targets make reading his work more than worthwhile. Goleman compares attention to a muscle you can flex and strengthen. For a buff psyche and enhanced mental tone, try this attention workout.


Paying Attention

How well you pay attention affects every aspect of your life. Effective focusing skills enhance mental processes, including understanding, learning, listening, being creative and reading other people’s signals. Most people underestimate focus or overlook its importance.

You need to exercise all three categories of focus – “inner, other and outer” – to function well in life. Inner focus refers to heeding your gut feelings, values and decision-making abilities. Other focus pertains to how you relate to and connect with other people. Outer focus allows you to get by in the larger world.

“Selective Attention”

Someone writing poetry on a laptop in a busy coffeehouse is demonstrating selective attention – focusing on one task and ignoring external stimuli. Such distractions are either “sensory” or “emotional.” Sensory distractions like shapes, colors and sounds stimulate your senses. Emotional lures cut through the clutter to draw your attention, like hearing your name called in a crowded restaurant. Emotions intrude on focus; completing a task is more difficult when you’re upset.

The brain’s prefrontal region is responsible for selective...

About the Author

Science journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Daniel Goleman wrote The New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence.

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