Why Paying Attention Is The Only Thing

When Vince Lombardi, star football coach was asked about winning in 1959,
he said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” So what?

Reading is everything and it is also the only thing to learn Math and Science.
Even Engineering and Computer-Science depend on reading to understand the problem and then attempt to solve it.

It aint funny, but bear with me, “Our family was so poor when I was a kid,
we couldn’t afford to PAY attention in school.” When you don’t pay attention
your brain zombies (zones-out) and nothing is going on in your brain.


Attention is a choice and a variable. Have you ever caught yourself re-reading the
same paragraph two, three-times without comprehension? We have all had the experience of mind-wandering or non-existent attention. Hello - you have just zoned-out.

Now remember back to the time you stopped yourself and paid attention and your
focus changed. Suddenly you were back in the game understanding the sentences in context. You got the details and deciphered the Big Picture too.


Attention, arousal and focus are controlled by our Frontal Lobe and specifically
our PreFrontal Cortex. When we are stressed or overtired the level of hormones
(neurotransmitters) norepinephrine (a/k/a noradrenaline) and dopamine begin to tank.

How Attention Operates

Researchers at Northwestern University, lead author Professor Marcia Grabowecky
have discovered that sustained attention makes us process information more effectively with a sharper focus.

Attention causes a population of cells (cell assemblies) to work together coherently.
How? They synchronize for a team effort. “The cells that fire together, wire together,” Donald O Hebb. Now you get a vivid conscious experience.


“Oh, my attention span is that of a fly.” Wrong. Attention is easily improved with just four 20-minute sessions. The result is a permanent increase in concentration. The mind changes and is highly influence by short practice sessions focusing on one thing for a few minutes. This type of meditation is called Mindfulness.

Meditation is focusing your mind on a single action such as repeating a word-mantra, chanting or paying attention to your breathing. Mindfulness offers the benefit of improving your critical cognitive skills.

Google: attention span, professor Zeidan, University of North Carolina.


Have you ever noticed that people who are daydreaming tend to blink their eyes
a lot? They are not paying attention and their mind is wandering. It is not just a
mental symptom but creates a physical one – blinking.

Why the blinking? Blinking creates a physical barrier (wall) between the blinker
and the outside world. Huh? You nonconsciously shut your eyes more by blinking.

Meaning? People who are not paying attention, letting their mind wander, blink
more than folk in-the-zone (in-the-flow). Blinking closes the eyelids permitting less
information processing in your brain. The result is a mind-body connection – producing the result of out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Google: Daniel Smilek, Psychological Science, 2010; DOI University of Waterloo.

Eye Movements

When we are reading and suffer mind wandering, our eyes continue to move across
the sentences and down the page, but nobody is home to pay attention.

The eyes had a different pattern when we pay attention compared to mind wandering (daydreaming). Normal reading is when our eyes fixate on a word
and then zips over to the next word. Remember, our eyes spend less time on
familiar words than new, complex ones.

Three Eye Movement Effects: Microsaccades – Quakes – Tremors.
Microsaccades are the rapid eye movements that create 80% of our vision.

In daydreaming our eyes slow up and spend more time on deciphering each word
in context. Fact: language processing in our brain is linked to eye-movements.

Google Erik Reichie, University of Pittsburgh, 8.30.2010 Psychological Science.

How to Influence Neurons to Act as a Team

Our brain loves rhythm when it comes to complex activities. If you want to unite
neurons in different areas of the brain for coordinated activities, give them a beat.

The latest research finds that electrical spikes (action potentials) followed a rhythm
of neuronal assemblies occurring across the brain. Like a conductor commanding
her orchestra. It is synchronization; the brain cells are tuned in.

Who Cares?

The #1 tune in the U.S. and maybe the world is Happy Birthday!. You know the tune and can hear it mentally instantly. You can tune it on this instant with or without the words, right?

Goal: improve attention up to 50% and avoid daydreaming.

Step one: sit at your desk; close your eyes, hand on top of your knees.
Step two: set each hand spread our on each side of your bellybutton – parallel.
Step four: inhale five (5) slow, deep diaphragmatic breaths and slowly exhale.
Step five: focus your attention on your normal breathing and inhaling (not diaphragmatic).
Step six: exhale as your mantra the tune to Happy Birthday! Not the words (lyrics)
just the tune. Do it slowly, ten-times. Inhale and only on exhaling – the tune to
Happy Birthday! The entire exercise takes under five-minutes.

If you repeat this five-minute exercise for 21 consecutive days your attention will
increase up to 50% and remained high. Happy Birthday! is a tune you do not have
to anyalze to hum, it is hardwired in all of us. Practice this exercise and make daydreaming a nonstarter.

See ya,

Would you own a competitive advantage by reading and remembering three (3)
books, articles and reports in the time your peers can hardly read one?

We have 50 available copies of a special report on speed reading. Contact us for one

copyright © 2010 H. Bernard Wechsler www.speedlearning.org hbw@speedlearning.org

Author's Bio: 

Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by Barron's.
Business partner of Evelyn Wood, (1907-1995) creator of speed reading.
Graduating 2-million including the White House staffs of four U.S.
Presidents: Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon-Carter