Pay attention

Look at me! Why?

Pay attention
Photo by Nathan Bingle / Unsplash

It was Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman that first popularised the idea that our brains function in two distinct ways, which he labeled System 1 and System 2 thinking.

In summary, our brains much prefer to function daily using System 1 thinking.

System 1 thinking

We are actually not seeing or thinking about things in reality actively when using System 1 thinking, we're kind of using our brains on automatic pilot.

When we think we know what's coming next, our minds just give us the experience of what comes next, without us having to actively think about it.

Our sense of sight apparently works in a similar way. We're not actively seeing anything - we're usually just running a well-known script on playback when we usually see our world

This saves a lot of energy, but it means that we're literally sleepwalking our way through life.

System 2 thinking

In sharp contrast to this - there is System 2 thinking.

System 2 thinking is active thinking, it is bloody hard work, saps energy and takes time and effort. But unlike System 1 thinking, System 2 thinking is awake thinking, it requires us to commit and invest in it.

It requires us to pay attention. There is a cost involved - and our minds consider it a big one.

If you want to wake somebody out of their daydreaming reality slumber, you need to offer them the opportunity to pay their attention over to you.

To convince somebody to hand over their precious attention dollars, you need to make it worth their while; or at least make them believe that the investment will be worth it.

That's not an easy thing to do - especially if you are hoping to capture their attention for longer than just a split second, but with the knowledge that attention is rare and literally costs somebody something to give it to you, it's less likely that you'll simply demand it and rather realise that it's something that you need to earn.

So before trying to get attention forcefully or because you think you somehow deserve it, ask yourself:

"Why would somebody want to willingly pay their attention to this?"