Pay attention

I paid close attention to this lovely bloom at the Conservatory of Flowers Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, October 2003

I paid close attention to this lovely bloom at the Conservatory of Flowers
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, October 2003

“Choice of attention, to pay attention to this and ignore that, is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer.” W. H. Auden

Auden captures a truth here that has always been evident to me, yet remains elusive in the ongoing rush of life.  When one is distractible or detail-oriented, the proclivity to have mindful awareness hijacked by the noisy or urgent is even stronger, and the need to discipline one’s thoughts becomes crucial to sanity and survival.

I’ve found that it helps to deliberately seek out the beautiful, interesting or joyful.  Life is astoundingly abundant with gifts that are easy to ignore.  When I start looking for them, blessings are evident everywhere.

Today, I hope you will go on a sort of “scavenger hunt” in whatever place you find yourself: search out what is lovely, happy or fun, but easily overlooked.  Take a few mental (or digital) photos.  If you like, share your observations here, but most importantly, file them away in your joy bank, to be withdrawn as needed in times of negative emotional cash flow.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Susan

    Julia, I am SO distractible (Adult ADD) that I always value reminders like this to FOCUS so I can ENJOY. What a gorgeous photo! Our powder room is yellow so I have some yellow flower photos on the walls. If this one had been at I would have bought it! You have such a talent for photography; thank you for continuing to share your pictures with us.

    • Thank you, Susan! You are welcome to use this photo in your powder room if you want– I’d be honored. 🙂 Seriously, I’m glad you like the photo. You don’t strike me as an ADD type so you must have it well under control. I remember reading several years ago where some psychologist said that in today’s world, we are ALL ADD because there are so many distractions all around us! Now I have an excuse! 😀

      • Susan

        Lol, that’s true, I feel like so many elements of the internet were invented by and for people with Adult ADD 😉 !

        • No kidding, there have been some research studies about the neurological differences in many of the people who work in Silicon Valley. For example I think there is a higher instance of high-functioning autism. It’s actually fascinating when you think about it. Great things are often accomplished by minds that work differently. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😀

  2. So true, Julia.
    As I look around my house and yard, I can easily see the evidence of my physical activity choices.
    As I look around my state of mind, well, that part shows a pretty clear record of what my thoughts have been up to.

    • That’s an interesting way of putting it. I need to start seeing a low or depressed mood as evidence of too much time spent in misdirected thinking. Great point!

  3. Elena

    I am very detail-oriented, so much so that sometimes I miss the bigger picture; yet there is so much that I can overlook. Thank you for the reminder of being intentional in observing all the beauty 😊

    • Elena, you’re welcome. I have to remind myself, too. I think being detail-oriented is mostly an advantage when it comes to finding what is easily missed. But as you say, we need to remember the big picture. Thanks for being here!

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