Leverage Points

depressed man

I recently read some theories which I can find some similarities with my next level of Life Hack tool i.e creating leverage points in our life.

How Attention Influences Life’s Outcomes- A Theory from Rapt

One of the highly influential theories is from the 2009 book Rapt by the science writer Winifred Gallagher. I felt the book is pretty much underrated. Why I say so is Gallagher was highly successful in formulating an idea from her own life experience that blows one of our understandings about human psychology.

Gallagher got diagnosed by cancer-“not just cancer”, as she explains, “but a particularly nasty, fairly advanced kind”. But unlike what many would do, as she got diagnosed by that nasty disease and walked out of hospital, she was able to form a strong intuition in her mind: “This disease wanted to monopolize my attention, but as much as possible, I would focus on my life instead”.
Even while going through the exhausting treatment, she couldn’t help noticing her career in non-fiction writing, that a commitment to focus on what that matters good in her life – “movies, walks, and a 6.30 martini”. It worked out surprisingly well! She got cured!

Again unlike us she didn’t stop. She set out to further understand the how focus and attention influence our life’s outcomes. That is, what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore- defines the quality and outcome of our life.
After almost 5 years of research she came away convinced that she was a witness of a “grand unified theory” of human mind.

“Like fingers pointing to the moon, other diverse disciplines from anthropology to education, behavioural economics to family counselling, similarly suggest that the skilful management of attention is the sine qua non of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience”

What her theory contradicts is what most people think about the subjective experience of life- our own circumstances of life decide our feelings and outcomes. That is, small things that happens on our day doesn’t add anything to our total feeling of that day.
But, according to Gallagher’s theory, it is completely false!

As Gallagher points out, If you focus on a cancer diagnosis, you and your life become unhappy and dark but instead if you focus on that evening martini, you and your life become more happy!
Simply, the worldview that we construct is actually based on “what we pay attention to”.

Barbara Fredrickson’s Research

In Rapt, Gallagher cites the research done by Barbara Fredrickson of North Carolina.
“After a bad or disrupting occurrence in your life, what you choose to focus on exerts significant leverage on your attitude going forward”
Fredrickson found that skilful use of those emotional “leverage points” can generate a significantly more positive outcome after negative events.

(Photo by Jim Jackson)