Not Just Seeing, Observing

Jan 4 2013 @ 10:44am

After spending time researching the infamous attention to detail that allowed Sherlock Holmes to recall minutiae, like the number of steps leading up to 221B Baker Street, Maria Konnikova tried to develop her ability to be "mindful":

It was hard. But it was worth it, if only for my enhanced perceptiveness, for the quickly growing pile of material that I wouldn’t have even noticed before, for the tangible improvements in thought and clarity that came with every deferred impulse. It’s not for nothing that study after study has shown the benefits of nature on our thinking: Being surrounded by the natural world makes us more reflective, more creative, sharper in our cognition. But if we’re too busy talking on the phone or sending a text, we won’t even notice that we’ve walked by a tree. …

Even brief exercises in mindfulness, for as little as five minutes a day, have been shown to shift brain activity in the frontal lobes toward a pattern associated with positive and approach-oriented emotional states. And the mind-wandering, multitasking alternative? It may do more than make us less attentive. It may also make us less happy.