People’s inability to focus has been the basis of entire industries for the last forty to fifty years. It has skyrocketing potential for so many businesses that its existence feeds economic trends. Attention deficiencies bolster the production of ingested aids (medicines, vitamins, etc.), behavioral aids, and lifestyle products. There are therapists to diagnose and therapists to advise, therapists to teach the parents and therapists to teach the children. So much activity around an invented affliction!
Inability to focus has causes. Sometimes there are birth defects that lead to attention deficiencies, but these causes are not the reasons for the new enormous industries. The new industries created the new disorders without facing the causes.
There are four main causes of inability to focus in the modern world:
- Industrialization, which brought with it urbanization and specialization
- Personal communication devices: radios, TVs, stereo systems, telephones, etc.
- Distancing from nature and from nature’s splendors and rhythms
- Standard learning methodologies in schools, universities, and courses that are not appropriate for most of those studying (approximately 60%)
Of all these causes, distancing from nature is the most serious. People require exposure to nature’s creatures (domesticated animals, untamed animals, fish, and insects), nature’s landscapes, edible foods in nature, flowers, plants, trees, and seasonal changes. These elements teach and develop attention capabilities. Without these connections to nature—or with only limited exposure to them—the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time is lessened and unappreciated, the ability to focus is shortened, and the ability to be resourceful is lessened. Not for everyone, but for most.
Industrialization led (1) to people moving into housing that cuts them off from nature and (2) to work that is specialized. Modern society’s focus on specialization has led to repetitive labor, day after day, year after year, be it in a field, at a desk, or by a computer. Specialization appears to advance societal goals, but in actuality, it limits people, which in turn, constrains society. Repetitive labor lessens the life of the laborer/person—not necessarily in terms of length of lifespan, but more in terms of a reduced existence. Specialization affects ability to focus by requiring unnatural attention to a limited area. Some people naturally feel at ease focusing on a limited area, but most don’t.
Personal communication devices pull people away from self-created enjoyments. Creating one’s own enjoyment requires focus and self-awareness. When someone else creates the enjoyment, focus is reduced. Earlier personal communication devices, like radios, caused people to reevaluate their own skills at entertainment and to sometimes quit. Stereo systems contributed to the move away from self-entertainment and attempts to create music. Television brought visual entertainment into the home, which led to a lessening in public gatherings and continued reevaluation of personal skills and desire to create entertainment. Telephones enable people to gather even less. Personal computers and phones continue the move from gathering together and have changed many aspects of self-entertainment, which then leads to increased inability to focus.
All people learn differently. Some learn through experiential training, some learn visually, some learn by hearing other people’s stories, and some learn only the things that really interest them. The standardized methodologies for teaching in a classroom assist no more than 40% of the students. The other 60%–the majority—require learning that is different. These people are stigmatized as problem learners when they actually have normal learning capabilities.
These four causes of inability to focus are interwoven into the fabric of modern society. Schools teach the minority of students well and fall short with the majority. Attachment to personal communication devices lessens patience and attention. Specialization narrows focus and awareness of things beyond one’s specialty. Detachment from nature removes opportunities for focus enhancement.
The attention deficiencies industries overlook the four causes and look at normal human traits as negative characteristics to be changed. They ignore the fact that modern living requires focus on activities that can be dull, rote, repetitive, and constraining. They trivialize the natural needs to move and change focus. They ignore the importance of connection to nature.
Modern schools, work places, institutions, and organizations require participation in dull, rote, repetitive, and constraining tasks and situations. People were designed for tasks and situations that are ever-changing. Tasks that demand constant focus and lengthy concentration tax the natural nature of humans. Distractions, tempest, whirl, and hurly-burly—those are the situations that people respond to.
Sitting in a classroom with a teacher droning on—NO! Sitting at a computer with few breaks—NO! Sitting on a factory line repeating the same motion over and over and over and over—NO! Hours of religious expression with expected intention—NO! People were not designed for these situations. To expect them to handle these situations and not fidget or daydream or disturb would require a new design.
People are designed for doing some of this, doing some of that, moving here, then moving there, short bouts of focus, studied execution of required tasks and chosen pursuits—and then sleep to recharge, repair, and function. People cannot hear and digest information delivered perfunctorily nor handle verbal assault nor accept displays of unimaginative and unmeant praise nor decipher dull and sterilized writing nor participate in uninspired presentations nor stay still for too long nor perform religious requirements without proper guidance and inspiration. Doing these things results in attention distraction, anger or enhanced criticism, dulled emotions and responses, and opposition to more than the cause of the opposition.
As mentioned earlier, the influences of nature were once major influences on people. Some people and cultures run their lives around the cycles of nature, but the number of people who are nature-centric lessens with developments in technology. The connection to flora and fauna significantly 1) broadens and heightens understanding of cycles and fluctuations; 2) develops appreciative and inquisitive capabilities; and 3) causes people to examine and work with vegetation that aid human life and animals that enhance human existence. When people allowed fluctuations of time, season, and life to govern their lives, they developed more attentive skills.
The creation of societies that reward unnatural behaviors and occupations and punish normal human behavior punish themselves. People force and repress and mold themselves to function within the constraints of modern societies. They think they are superior when they manage to overcome their natural inclinations for movement and physical expression. People do manage to adjust to their polygonal existences, but their bodies and spirits bear the brunt of the altered requirements.(A polygonal existence is a life that feels twisted and unnatural, a life that is unbalanced and incorrectly focused.)
Attention to the world around, to other people’s actions and antics, to creatures other than humans, to plant life, and to other-worldly possibilities can sharpen attention capabilities. Attention capabilities are dulled through focus on petty inconveniences, petty pursuits, mindless entertainment, mindless lecturing, futile escapes, futile reasoning to justify lack of initiative, words spoken without thought, words spoken in a tone of condescension or disgust, distractive substances that steal focus, and distractive and negative thoughts that are untrue or unnecessary. When attention capabilities are challenged, habits, influences, and routines should be examined.
Assuming that a person has a deficit because he or she cannot stay still or cannot focus on a dull and uninspiring topic reflects badly on society. There are people born with deficits or who acquire deficits through accident or illness, but perceived deficits of people who are unable to force themselves to live within uncompromising regulations are not deficits—they are expressions of frustration or unreleased energy or laziness or despair.
The rush of the attention deficiencies industries to pronounce people as needing ingested aids, behavioral aids, and lifestyle products in order to function is foolhardy and destructive. Some of ingested aids damage internal functioning of the body. All of the aids lessen society’s view of the people who are treated as attention deficient—including the people themselves.
What changes are needed to lessen attention deficiencies, besides changing society?
- Spending more time around plants, trees, and flowers.
- Spending more time with animals at home, at zoos, at bird observation sites, in nature.
- Reading more for pleasure.
- Spending more time outside feeling the weather.
- Regularly using the body physically through exercise or activities that incorporate movement.
- Participating in creating music and musical performances.
- Spending more time with family or friends doing volunteer work.
- Studying topics that are interesting.
- Creating meals from scratch.
- Developing hobbies that involve concentration and gradual improvement.
- Using personal communication devices less.
Instead of focusing on attention deficiencies, the attention deficiencies industries could focus on attention capabilities. To do so, attention capability needs to be understood. There are six aspects of attention capability:
- The ability to take in outside stimuli and think about them in orderly and sequential thought processes, and use the subsequent and processed information to formulate ideas, images and sensory input, questions, impressions and intuitive evaluations (for positive and negative stimuli), and information for storage.
- The ability to identify information, opinions, memories, and guidelines that are stored or remembered, and to apply them to incoming stimuli.
- The ability to filter out unnecessary, trivial, and malicious information from all incoming and internalized information.
- The ability to evaluate outside stimuli and determine the need for using them. For example, when noticing a person walk by—First, evaluating the person in relation to oneself: identifying the person as familiar (family, friend, or acquaintance) or known but unacquainted (friend of a friend, famous, work personnel, etc.) or unknown but interesting (appealing physically or not, engaged in eye-catching activity, wearing eye-catching apparel, etc.) or unknown and suspicious or simply unknown. Second, determining an appropriate response if required, initiating an action or not, taking note of the person or something about the person or letting the person pass by without an intake of information.
- The ability to focus on outside stimuli that must be internalized.
- The ability to use the senses to connect with environmental (not man-made) activity, changes, and patterns.
The attention capabilities industries could focus on these aspects of attention to elevate people rather than looking for deficiencies that aren’t existent. There is much that can be done to elevate people. The first step is to abandon the invented affliction of attention deficiencies.
Note: This information is from the first draft of the upcoming book Invented Afflictions and Muscular Conditions. This information has been spiritually received. Some of the information has been published here in earlier blog posts.