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Is paying attention the root of satisfaction?

Here's an experience everyone here has had:
distractedly watch a "good" movie - don't enjoy yourself
attentively watch a "bad" movie - enjoy yourself
This is extremely apparent when you watch a movie you didn't enjoy the first time while paying closer attention.

It seems anything that's satisfying is something you pay attention to. What is something that's satisfying that you don't focus on?

The question then becomes: is it possible to exploit this to our advantage? If we hyper-focus on our meaningless boring jobs, do they suddenly become satisfying? Is the goal in life to just have a clear mind about everything?

Another experience everyone has had:
thinking about past mistakes, embarrassing moments, etc.
worrying about future failures, pessimism, thinking about worst outcomes, etc.

If you analyze any given moment of your life it's not that bad. Almost all negative feelings come from thought and not focus.

Anyone reading this thinking that their life is shit right now, think about your current status, emphasis on current. Why is your life bad right now? Literally right now reading this post. Why is it bad? I can guarantee it's almost exclusively going to be about past / future thoughts. So your life isn't actually bad in the literal present.

I'd like for people to critique this base idea. I'd rather not talk about meditation specifically in this thread, I want to keep it more general. Do you agree with me or not?


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On one hand, I like what you’re saying and I find it interesting. On the other hand, you sound like you’ve never dealt with serious illness, chronic pain, or a shitty job.

I’ll give it some more thought. Thanks for posting.


The things you bring up only make it more difficult, but it doesn't really contradict the base idea of keeping your mind in the present. For example it's much easier to pay attention to the porn you're watching as cum shoots out of your dick than it is to focus on the wall as you stare at it trying not to think about anything else. Pain is obviously something that would be incredibly difficult to overcome though.


Suffering results from desiring that which is not under your control. See Stoic writings:

Control of attention is important thought because attention shapes the internal world that we experience. If we only give a fraction of our attention to something, we only fractionally experience it. Practicing paying zero attention even to internal events – quiet mind meditation – is also very beneficial because it allows us to deprive malign situations of attention when needed.


>If we hyper-focus on our meaningless boring jobs, do they suddenly become satisfying?
Sounds far-fetched. If you don't focus on a movie, you cna hardly tell whether it's "good" or not; and if you focus on a "bad" movie you can still enjoy it since (bad or not) it still has some meaning, something to say which might interest you.

You're probably right that worrying about the past and/or future is pointless and only causes suffering, but I doubt that you can make a boring, repetitive job much better just by focusing on it in the present instead of worrying about past or future events. I think what we enjoy the most is acquiring knowledge, understanding things and patters. (Aristotle also thought this was the greatest human happiness.) Clearly, a prerequisite for acquiring knowledge is to focus on the present; if you're worrying about the past or the future, you're living in your head, you're not getting any external stimulus from the outside world (and our sense-perceptions are the main gateway to knowledge). So when you worry about the past or the future you're miserable because you're depriving yourself from acquiring and processing new information, you're just thinking about things you already know (the past) or engaging in unsubstantiated guess-work about something you can't know (the future). Video games and social media are so popular and addictive because they bombard us with information, and we enjoy acquiring and processing that information. But those things can quickly become stale and boring after they lose their novelty and we start seeing the same information and the same patters over and over again; that's why books are better since they grant you access to a wealth of information of many different kinds. (Though that information is usually more complex and more difficult to process, unlike the immediacy of video games, and that's why most people like games but think books are boring.)




You might enjoy the work of Pierre Hadot (Philosophy as a Way of Life) and Colin Wilson (there are some links in latest /hob/ reading thread). They thought a lot about this.


OP I'd recommend a novel called The Pale King. It confronts this very issue of transcending boredom and maintaining focus and attention on mundane aspects of our life.


If you think of satisfaction as a scale from unhappy to happy, I disagree since paying attention to physical pain makes me feel more miserable than just forgetting about the pain even if I have no other stimuli to pay attention to.
If you think of satisfaction as a seperate entity from unhappiness, you're only arguing that paying more attention to satisfying things makes you more satisfied. Which I agree with.


>Is paying attention the root of satisfaction?
No. Doing things you like while relaxing is the root of satisfaction. ie not binging


I think about this topic a lot, I no longer chase satisfaction. That is something that never worked for me. The most satisfaction I get is making a web of connections to a said thing in my life and use it as a mental safety net of things if that makes enough sense that I use to move forward with my day to day life.

I also notice the most dread and negativity comes from future focus no matter the scale. It can be good but when you lose the moment everything in it becomes a mountain to climb. Stuck there right now, it's harder said than done especially when it's something crucial to your life. But you don't know what's gonna happen the next day, never mind a week or more ahead. Your life is subject to change and you can be somewhere else doing something completely different in a day or two.This brings me too attachment, it's also always best to only have as much you need at the current time, no more and no less than you're ready to take on.


Depends on the individual. I've heard not paying attention and going through life aloof can bring satisfaction as well. Paying attention to things I enjoy can bring me satisfaction however. It's hard to say. My job is a balancing act. Pay too much attention and I become stressed out and exhausted. Pay too little attention I get scolded and make a lot of mistakes.


mindfulness and paying attention to everything is pretty central to zen, maybe check it out while thinking of it in this way


You are absolutely right. Its always your judgemental part of your mind that makes you sometimes feel good, sometimes bad… examine this a bit closer and maybe you will find the true meaning of this life

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