I just finished reading ‘The Geography of Bliss’ by Eric Weiner. I am in an understanding happiness phase at the moment and this book was a treat in every sense of the word. The book is a story about a grumpy journalist i.e. Eric Weiner who travels the world searching for the happiest places in a quest to understand happiness. The book is fun, happy, deep, humorous, relatable and insightful all at once.
There are many many great quotes, lessons and insights in the book. And I thought I’d pull one up about attention that stuck with me.
“Attention’ is an underrated word. It doesn’t get the… well, the attention it deserves. We pay homage to love, and happiness, and, God knows, productivity, but rarely do we have anything good to say about attention. We’re too busy, I suspect. Yet our lives are empty and meaningless without attention.
My two-year-old daughter fusses at my feet as I type these words. What does she want? My love? Yes, in a way, but what she really wants is my attention. Pure, undiluted attention. Children are expert at recognizing counterfeit attention. Perhaps love and attention are really the same thing. One can’t exist without the other.”
I’ve been thinking about that story since and reflecting about it. I’ve read over a 100 books in the past 4 years or so and it’s gotten to a point where I feel like hardly anything I read is new. The concepts are all similar, the underlying principles are the same.. yet, each book brings with it a different level of insight and understanding. It’s the power of words, really. String them together right and they work like magic. Stories have that magical power and perhaps that’s why this book was magical. It was one large story at the end of the day made up of many small ones, some of which really struck a chord.
In this case, the story didn’t just strike a chord. As a friend once joked, it was more of a gong. It instantly reminded me of the quote about zen – ‘The essence of zen is to do one thing at a time.’
If I have to brutally honest with myself, I have constantly hidden behind my natural ADD to justify my bad behaviour. On calls with family, I am almost always doing something else on the side that distracts me – checking email or browsing for example. Of late, I’ve been seriously considering getting an iPad since it is blindingly obvious when you are ‘multi tasking’ on an iPad. Your video doesn’t show! And I’ve also tried discipline myself to do more conversations on my phone, walk, run an errand if necessary so I’m not near the computer.
In short, I feel like I struggle with giving the ones I love the most the attention they deserve. They deserve much better and I could do much better.
Hence, this story came at a wonderful time. I am big on the importance of quality time vs quantity time. I just don’t walk the talk as often as I should. And that’s why I’m broadcasting it to the world. I only write stuff here that I do or intend/promise to do. And like all the other little personal betterment initiatives, I’ll keep you all posted.
And to Eric, thank you. This is likely to be the first of many quotes from your book that I will think about and talk about. You should know that you’ve made a difference and inspired me. And as one commenter here said, ‘You should know that inspiration is one of the most powerful things we do.’
Happy weekend everyone.