Johann Hari | Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t PAY ATTENTION – And How to Think Deeply Again

Life Process Program Jan 30, 2022 NYT Best-Selling Author Johann Hari, In his new book, “Stolen Focus”, explains why and how our ability to pay attention is diminishing; he explains why that matters; and he offers potential solutions to those of us who wish to improve our focus and live better lives. Johann Hari is a British journalist who has written for The Guardian, New York Times, The Independent, Le Monde, and many others. His Ted Talks have been viewed by tens of millions. He has written two international best-selling books (one of which has been adapted into a Hollywood film), and he has spoken to audiences around the globe. Today, Hari joins Sundays With Stories to discuss the themes from his most recent book, “Stolen Focus” and discuss the solutions to one of our most daunting cultural issues to date. TIME STAMPS 0:00 Dumb Banter 2:30 Who (or what) is stealing focus from whom? 5:07 Taking on the forces that have stolen our attention 6:33 Precommitment 9:00 Multi-tasking is harming creativity 15:52: How do we prioritize our attention? 20:03 Individual solutions and cultural solutions 22:20 Mind wandering and flow states 27:40 Reinforcement on social media 33:25 Humans are not one-dimensional 35:29 Tristan Harris / Reasons for optimism? 46:00 Can we persuade Facebook and Instagram to be ethical? 48:30 Why do we hyper-focus on doom and gloom? 54:50 Overprotecting our children 1:03:11 Anxiety versus mastery and motivation 1:06:10 ADHD OVER-diagnosis in kids 1:07:21 Schools ask kids to focus on meaningless work 1:09:31 Zone of proximal development 1:11:08 How can we get out attention back? 1:15:30 We have to understand the problem before we can solve it

Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention- and How to Think Deeply Again

Johann Hari

Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. From the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections comes a groundbreaking examination of why this is happening–and how to get our attention back.

In the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only sixty-five seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding that constantly switching from device to device and tab to tab was a diminishing and depressing way to live. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions–even abandoning his phone for three months–but nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention–and he discovered that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong.

We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces that have left us uniquely vulnerable to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. Hari found that there are twelve deep causes of this crisis, from the decline of mind-wandering to rising pollution, all of which have robbed some of our attention. In Stolen Focus, he introduces readers to Silicon Valley dissidents who learned to hack human attention, and veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD. He explores a favela in Rio de Janeiro where everyone lost their attention in a particularly surreal way, and an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore workers’ productivity.

Crucially, Hari learned how we can reclaim our focus–as individuals, and as a society–if we are determined to fight for it. Stolen Focus will transform the debate about attention and finally show us how to get it back.


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