WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE? |INSIGHTS FROM Cal Newport’s Deepwork

WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE? |INSIGHTS FROM Cal Newport's Deepwork

Is there really a singular factor that moves to the top of the pyramid when it comes to considering all our existence? I would love to say yes. Let’s find out what it really is;

Money versus Attention

I am guilty of restarting the most obvious debate we tend to have. Many plays, movies, and novels have detailed the story of why money is not a good thing to place at the center of your life. Today however I try to give this a new angle.

So what is the problem with placing money as the most important thing in your life? It’s the money we give attention to. We give attention to the money we don’t have. We are endlessly thinking when I earn this money then I will be able to get these things in my life. It’s an insatiable need. One that no matter how wealthy you become you will keep having. If only I had more I would…

As a result, I propose that the most important thing in life when dealing with money is attention. What aspects do you focus on? Do you focus on the intrinsic value you have which works back to the money you can earn? Do you focus on the wealth of knowledge you have rather than your bank account balance?

When you focus on your intrinsic value. You start to ask yourself what opportunities are there for me to communicate my value? You work to figure out what is your unique value to this world. As you do, you start to find out that when you understand your value and who values it, it’s only a matter of time till you can live the life of your dreams. However, if you focus on what you don’t have you will always feel like you don’t have enough. Every advert or Instagram post will communicate with this deeper sense of inadequacy. The more you do this it becomes who you are. So no physical amount of money will change this intrinsic perception of inadequacy. So billionaire or not, you will always want more.

When it comes to money the parting shot is to focus on the money you have. That is your value. Something that will never have a market price. Understand and detail this. Then every day you will always feel adequate. Physical cash will be something you use to trade and store this value not something that defines this value.

Time versus attention

It was really difficult to dethrone time as the most important thing. You see time is everything. Everything has to happen within the boundaries of time. It is the only fixed element we have in the Universe. Nothing can exist outside of the descriptions of past, present, and future.

Let’s scope in to understand why time still loses out to attention. If I asked you to pick between living  150 years full of misery or living 50 years full of your desires, which one would you chose? If you are like many people on this planet you will choose quality over quantity. As a result, I presuppose that the crucial component of time is not how much time you get, it is what you get to do with time. So we are all seeking more quality life rather than more time.

The other interesting angle comes from the understanding that the future and the past don’t exist. As one great illustrator instructed in a webinar, “ Nod your head in the future.” How would you do that? That is an instruction you can never follow. Cause at no single point in time will you be in the future.

If you can’t change the past and never be in the future what should you focus on? Yes, the keyword is focus. We should stay attentive to now. To be honest, this very present moment as you read this article is the most precious moment you will ever have. You see if we keep focusing on what we can never have, the future,  or what we lost, the past, then time only enslaves us.

Just like money, the secret is not in the commodity itself time, the secret is in what element of time you focus on. How do you know that you are aligned to this wisdom?  When your answer to, Is there a better time to live? Is, now. You are probably debating with me saying that, that is easier said than done. Saying that if what I am doing now is washing dishes while listening to this over audio. Is not a great thing,  that there many more things you could be doing with greater satisfaction. That would be where I tell you to read my next paragraph.

Activity and satisfaction is something you have been conditioned about. There is a belief out there that there are worthwhile activities and activities that are not. Let’s take a child and put them in the same situation. They will find beauty in the foam of soap. They will find beauty in running water. They will find beauty in the sounds of utensils hitting each other. For them, that minute would be as valuable as any other. This is something that you can do too! You just need to be more mindful. Stop spending 47% percent of your life thinking. Work to spend most of your life being in the moment. That way the best experience in your day could be finding beauty in the most mundane of things. Like I experienced a while back. I had a day where the most beautiful thing I did was to cut an onion!

Time is not the most important thing in life, what you focus on in regards to time is. If you can use your infinite powers as a human being even the most mundane things can be as beautiful as the night sky. Hence again we place attention over time. Cause if you focus on anything you will find beauty and you will realize that there is no need to compare activities. They are all beautiful and worth your time. Just be attentive!

People versus Attention

At the end of your life, your relationship with this life will depend on your relationship with others. You will feel like you lived a happy life if the people around you made you happy. Your life will feel unlived if you lived a sad life. Your life will feel like a prison if you felt angry most of the time. Most of our emotions if not all originate from people.

Armed with this knowledge most of us really do understand what we need from others for us to feel good. We spend a lot of time complaining about how different people in our lives don’t do this. We are stuck in the dogma of complaint. In the dogma of the victim. Think about it, the last time you spoke about someone for hours, were you praising or complaining?

Armed with the knowledge from this article you understand then that we are wired to focus on our gaps. We are wired to focus on why someone is not right for us or why they are silently thinking of mistreating us. The sad reality is that people are only what you see them.

If someone came to you wanting to probably tell you that you were having a wardrobe malfunction and as they approached you remembered the crime rate of Nairobi, what would you do? You would probably increase your pace and avert their calls to help you.

People are like art. A lot about them is ironic. A lot about them is off proportion. That is what makes them beautiful. Just like the art enthusiast, your work becomes to discover the hidden layers of beauty in everyone. You stand at the masterpiece mesmerized. Everything you thought malicious has a tender story to it. You understand that your neighbor is grumpy cause ever since they were young, that was what they were taught to be to the world. You realize that one of your workmates is reserved, but this goes back to the fact that his father fought a war. He was taught to have little trust in people.

People are art. If you focus on their singular defectiveness you forget to look at the whole masterpiece. You miss out on a lot of information. You treat them as defective rather than artistic.

This and many more is one of the insights I garnered as I read the book Deepwork, by Carl Newport. For insightful; learning’s from the book, catch up with the next article in this series!

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