An article arrived in my inbox from psychologist and author Emma Kavanagh and I discovered I have a superpower.
I’ve always known something about it but it’s never been described as a superpower before.
First of all, when we have nothing pressing to do “the midline of our brain lights up with activity. This is the area that runs right across the middle of the brain from forehead to the back of the head. This is called the default mode network, so named because this network comes alive when we have nothing else to do. It is the home to mind wandering, day dreaming, rumination.”
OK, I’m pretty good at that. In fact I need a LOT of daydreaming time to process everything that happens. I used to play online solitaire for hours just to get the time for my mind to wander. But that’s not my superpower…
In the article Dr Kavanagh says:
“The default mode network is a pretty natural state for us. It is our default. But its overactivity can be associated with increased rumination, an increased risk to mental health.
So how do we combat that? Well, fundamentally, we combat that by paying attention. Attention acts as a switch, telling the default mode network that it is time to turn off, that other things require our cognitive energy now.
Attention is a super power. Attention can turbo charge neuronal signals, leading us to create stronger links, creating better learning, better skill acquisition.”
I’m REALLY good at attention. I was so good at it as a child that when I played the piano I dribbled. I still do occasionally. My attention is so focused that I can forget what is happening around me and be completely absorbed in what I’m doing. It’s the same with reading a good book. The outside world ceases to exist, sometimes for hours at a time.
And I’ve learned to use that focus consciously.
Writing this blog post is an example – I read the article in my email and before I even finished it I was sitting at the laptop writing this blog. And I’m staying here until it’s finished.
The thing I hadn’t realised is that this form of focused attention is an off-switch to the bizarre scenarios we create in our heads. And trust me, there are a lot of bizarre scenarios.
The odd thing is, I know myself well enough now to start doing something focused. Whether it’s practising piano for my next concert, editing the podcast recording for general release, adding new resources to the Learning Lounge or writing my thoughts down for a blog post.
I am so glad to realise there’s a way to combat the scenarios, and I already use it and can be proud of it.
My name’s Jeremy (and I have a superpower). What’s yours?
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