May 12, 2009


Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher is an exploration of attention. It drifts between reasoned discussion about what is going on in your brain backed by various sciences to anecdotal evidence presented in self-help new age manner. Thankfully the book sticks more to the former than the latter. Overall the text is very approachable and offers insight into how we experience the world.

  • Your life consists of what you focus on [4]
  • The idle mind is the devil's workshop [13]
  • Change blindness [19]
  • Rashomon [22]
  • Magic is what happens when you are paying attention to something else [23]
  • To enjoy the kind of experience you want [...] take charge of your attention [28]
  • Negativity bias theory [32]
  • Positivity offset [35]
  • Weapons effect [36]
  • reactive, behavioral, and reflective brain parts [37-38]
  • W. H. Auden "Choice of attention - to pay attention to this and ignore that - is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choices and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be" [43]
  • William James "the art of knowing what to overlook" [50]
  • Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) [58]
  • Pearls Before Breakfast [67]
  • Mindfulness meditation [69]
  • Concentration on lower or upper status and its effect on you [85]
  • Noon on Sunday, most unhappy hour [109]
  • Thinking about your life versus your life experiences [118]
  • Attentional myopia [123]
  • The Paradox of Choice [127]
  • Energy flows where attention goes [161]
  • Work 90 minutes on a task then switch [172]
  • Plan how you'll act in advance [183]
  • The truth is what works [191]
  • Wisdom, courage, temperance, justice, humanity (love), and transcendence [210]
  • Make yourself necessary to someone [212]

Tags: attention books life