(Here’s How You Can Get It For FREE)
The most valuable resource in the world is not something you can buy and hold. In fact, once you own it, you’re constantly at risk of losing it. That’s why the people who know how to keep it are the richest and most powerful people in the world. In fact, the people who know this secret of the world’s most valuable asset have an un-ending supply of power, they never worry about money, and they hardly ever admit they know this secret.
I’m about to reveal this secret asset to you — but please be warned. This is powerful. And with great power comes great responsibility. So please use this asset responsibly to get whatever it is you want to achieve in your life or career. Because this exists inside the human mind.
Now — people have been searching for the keys to the human mind since the beginning of time. And since the birth of psychology many have laid claim to having found them.
Abraham Maslow identified five basic needs that drove human behavior. Including physiological needs (food and shelter), safety/security needs (protection), social needs (love, companionship), self needs (self-confidence), and self-actualizing needs (personal growth).
But He Forgot One.
In short, Maslow said that people’s needs in one category must be met before they can turn their attention to the next one. The important thing to take away from all of this is that we are need driven. And while Maslow’s five-category model has its place in the world, at this point, consider a simpler model for a moment:
It’s a model that only has ONE need.
It’s a need that everyone seems to recognize — and very few know how to exploit. But the ones who do are running the world. Here’s a quote from the media mogul Roger Ailes, which hints at this need I’m talking about:
“Let’s face it, there are three things that the media are interested in: pictures, mistakes, and attacks. It’s my orchestra-pit theory of politics. If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem’ and the other guy falls into the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?”
Consider for a moment:
The media’s job is to ‘cater’ to us. To provide us with what most interests us. The truth is, this quote is less about “media” than it is about human nature. But there’s something even deeper — that’s hidden behind all of it, and tapping into the secret asset I’m talking about.
Cult leaders like Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh, and Jim Jones used it to seize control of their followers and lead them to kill themselves. And the political establishment uses it to grab up more and more power and control with every passing year… by whipping people up into hate-filled frenzies.
What these people, and all the master manipulators before them, know — is this:
People Have A Desperate Need
For Mental Engagement
They want to have their attention captured, focused, and intensified. The need for mental engagement does not appear in Maslow's Hierarchy — and doesn’t replace the needs he identified — but mental engagement can override all of them. Just like how physiological needs can take over safety/security needs, the need for mental engagement can override your physiological needs, if only for a while.
We can be starving and searching for food when something comes along, distracts us, and before we know it, hours have passed without any sensation of hunger. We can be in severe pain and without being aware of it, something else comes along and captures our attention and the pain is gone.
We’ve all experienced situations like these, but upon reflection they don’t seem to make any sense. Why would we put off something important like eating or seeking medical attention, for something less important?
Because We Don’t
Have Any Choice.
The body may send signals to the brain indicating its needs, but the mind doesn’t have to pay attention to any of it.
What the mind DOES have to do, though, is pay attention to something. And without proper mental discipline, the mind will focus on the most appealing option sitting in front of it.
Every moment of the day, we want to be engaged in something. It usually doesn’t matter what it is — as long as it can gain and maintain our attention. We look for entertainment, conversation, and confrontation. Apps or games on our devices. We listen to music. Cook. Clean. Rearrange. Even when we’re exhausted and want to relax, we simply engage in something else.
All this is an effort to relieve us from the one thing very few people can endure:
The need for mental engagement is so fundamental that few people even give it much thought. But it’s always there, lurking just behind our awareness, searching for something to “lock onto.”
This is why so many of us are easily distracted. It causes us to procrastinate. Unless your current thoughts or activities are sufficiently engaging, the next best thing that comes along will pull us away. And since it’s through engagement that we experience — and through experience that we are changed — the people who engage us hold the keys to our hearts and minds, and from there, our actions.
We do not see these people as manipulators. We see them as saviors.
What holds attention determines action.
We can no more decide what we pay attention to than we can decide whom we will love.
Dr. Jerome Barkow, Darwin, Sex and Status
The quotes above illustrate the profound effect attention plays in our lives. They also point the way to a secret door into the human mind. And when compromised — this door leaves us open to committing acts we wouldn’t dream of if we were in total control of our own thoughts.
Now while it’s one thing to accept that we can only act on the things which we are made aware of, it’s quite another thing to admit that we have little control over what those things are.
But we simply don’t.
There HAS To Be An Exception
To This Rule, Right?
Sorry. No such luck. Try it yourself. Here’s an experiment:
The next time you’re trying to concentrate on something important and a distraction occurs, just don’t pay attention to it. If you try this experiment honestly at all, you’ll find you can’t do it. It’s impossible.
See — if you are aware that a distraction occurred, it has already captured your attention, against your will. Even if only for a second. Your concentration is broken. This is a dilemma that many people try to fix through meditation. And of course, meditation is an excellent discipline that can improve your ability to concentrate. I highly recommend it.
But the ability to completely control our thoughts is still impossible. Put me in front of the world’s greatest spiritual guru at the top of a mountain, who is in the deepest of all transcendental meditations. Then give me a hammer and a clean shot at his toe.
I guarantee you I’ll get his attention.
The truth is this:
When It Comes To What We Will Pay
Attention To, We Hardly Have A Say In It.
And here’s the irony: It’s easier to control someone else’s attention than it is to control your own. That also means when it comes to our own attention, other people can exercise more control over it than we do. What’s worse? We don’t often realize it until it’s too late:
Here’s an experiment. Imagine you’re in a movie theater. And you’re waiting for the lights to dim and the show to start. As you wait, you try to relax and get comfortable. You notice the sticky floor under your shoes. The seat of the person sitting next to you squeaks every time they move. Behind you, a group of teenagers won’t stop talking. And in front of you a very tall man just sat down. He’s blocking your view unless you sit just the right way.
Still, you know that the movie will start soon and all those things will fade from your awareness. But remember, you are attending to this movie as an experiment. So here’s what I’m going to ask you to do — just one simple action:
I have given you a small hand-held device with a button on it, and I have asked you to simply press the button the moment the movie captures your attention and you lose all sense of the other things going on around you. After that — you’re free to enjoy the show.
So if this film really is one you have been dying to see, how long do you think it will be there before you press the button?
You Will Never Press The Button.
By the very definition of the experiment you couldn’t do it. At least not when I asked you to. Because if you are still conscious of my request, the movie has yet to fully capture your attention.
You have to wait. But then, when the moment does come and your attention is captured — you are no longer conscious of my request for you to press the button.
The experiment is a failure. But then again, maybe not:
While this experiment will never be able to tell us the time it takes for a person to have their attention captured, it DOES show us something that is infinitely more important:
It shows us that we may never know our attention has been captured until after it is released. And I’m not talking about attention the way your teacher asked you to “pay attention” in school…
Attention Or Attention Capture?
It’s one thing to “pay attention to something”. But it’s quite another to “HAVE your attention CAPTURED”.
When we pay attention, we still have awareness of our “selves” and maintain a semblance of control over the encounter.
When our attention is “captured”, we lose all sense of our “selves”, just like in the movie theater example. “We” literally do not exist at that moment.
And if we do not exist, we do not have conscious control in that moment of our own mental state.
Sound A Little Creepy?
It should. And it is. This is how cult leaders have gotten perfectly normal, sane people to lower their resistance, and — over time — convince them to commit suicide. And it’s how some of the worst political regimes in history have gotten entire countries full of good people to comply with their atrocities.
Most people believe propaganda is simply dictators giving speeches and lectures about their ideology. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Joseph Gobbels, the Nazi propagandist who worked for Adolf Hitler, made sure every family in Germany had a radio in their house — which was made to be exceptionally affordable for the first time ever in those days. The propaganda on these radios said nothing overtly about Hitler’s philosophy. It was music, entertainment, song, dance and comedy. It captured Germans’ attention in their homes. And then sprinkled in the political ideology that led to the Holocaust — one of the most horrible events in human history.
Of course, when your attention is being temporarily captured, it’s just that — temporary.
At some point, the lights in the theater will go on, or someone will shuffle in their seat, breaking you out of your trance, or some thought will break the spell (“Did I lock my front door?”)
But make no mistake about it — the “spell” is real. Our lack of conscious control during its existence is real. Most importantly…
Can Be Mind-Boggling:
When our attention is captured, our conscious judgement and self-awareness recedes — we become more suggestible.
For example, in the early 1930’s Hitler was looking for someone to direct a film documenting their 1934 Nazi rally in Nuremberg. He had access to a generous number of filmmakers who would have made strong, logical arguments for their cause.
But Hitler chose a directer with virtually no directing experience — and even less knowledge of the Nazi party. He chose a young woman named Leni Riefenstahl. Why her? Because she knew something even more important: she knew how to weave a spell with film — and engage her viewers like no one had ever seen before.
The result of her efforts was Triumph of the Will — arguably the most powerful propaganda film ever made. In fact, for nine years, from the time the film was completed in 1936 to the end of the war — this film was shown in every theater in Germany.
In watching this film, you can be taken aback by how little information it tries to communicate. While there are a number of clips of political speeches by Hitler and his henchmen, most of it is simply a montage of images put to music.
According to Riefenstahl, her goal was to create a sense of rhythm and imagery, not a logically sound presentation in support of the Nazi Party. In other words, she sought to ENGAGE the viewer. Not educate him. Unfortunately, her instinct was flawless and she created something you could still call spellbinding almost 90 years later.
And while there are many different “things” that might capture peoples’ attention…
There Is One Type Of “Bait”
We Are All Susceptible To:
And that bait is incongruity. In other words — things that are “out of place”, that don’t make sense in a given context — or that confuse us. In fact, I used incongruity in the headline of this blog post to grab your attention.
There are two reasons why incongruity works. The first one is simply a survival instinct. We are “wired” to notice things in our environment that “stand out” from the norm in case they threaten our survival.
The second reason is because we are naturally drawn to things that increase our energy level, that make us feel more alive. And the attempt to resolve incongruities does just that.
Psychologist Donald M. Johnson in his book The Psychology of Humor and Wit said:
“Perception of an incongruity arouses energy directed toward resolution”
Cults paint incredible pictures of possibility — that contrast with the mechanized day-to-day routine most of us experience. From the chance to study under a “true messiah”, to a taste of nirvana, to spaceships and comets, to human cloning — cults know how to set themselves apart from normality.
Con artists often create situations that appear “too good to be true”, where their mark (victim) is lead to believe that — if they act fast — they can profit from this incredible “stroke of luck”. Given that the opportunity is unique — that it isn’t likely to happen again, and is not congruent with everyday life — our attention is often captured and our compliance often follows.
Have you come across any talking dogs, frogs, or lizards lately? Sure, not in real life, but how many commercials have you seen that feature them? Maybe you’re old enough to remember the Taco Bell Chihuahua, or Budweiser’s talking frogs. Geico’s talking lizard. Aflac’s talking ducks.
These incongruities capture our attention and many of us watch commercials like these as if they were entertainment rather than product pitches. We are extremely susceptible to suggestion once we’ve identified an incongruity and seek to resolve it. We’re SO susceptible that we often accept the first answer that seems to make sense of the incongruity — even if the answer is given by the person who CREATED the incongruity in the first place!
Politicians do this all the time — they point out and play up an “evil” in society that has gone uncorrected. They’ll whip the public up into a frenzy of concern for an issue, then just so happen to “suggest” the solution to the problem.
And guess what?
Everyone who accepts the politician’s definition of the problem typically accepts the politician’s solution. Even when it’s a really bad one. Sounds silly when it’s pointed out. But it’s anything but silly when it leads us down a path someone else has laid out for us. That path could lead anywhere.
So What Do You Do With All This?
If you want to live your best life, understanding where attention goes is something you must be aware of. Because it’s one thing to be forced into doing something you don’t want to do. But it’s a whole other thing to be manipulated into believing you did something you didn’t want to do on your own free will.
Attention is the single most valuable commodity on the face of the earth. Not only is there a limited supply of it — it can ALWAYS be lost. That means the “powers that be” — and anyone else who may be trying to influence where your money, your votes, and your behavior goes — are likely pouring trillions of dollars into making your attention THEIRS. And more often than not, they won’t put the most helpful ideas into your brain with it. They will give you ideas that will help them — NOT you.
The good news is — you can set up your life so they can grab your attention as little as possible, if at all. Design your environment so you just never have to hear what they’re saying. Instead of watching the news, learn something that gives YOU power — like a new skill. Set up your surroundings with positive messages and images — so that when you get distracted or captivated, it’s working FOR you instead of AGAINST you.
And remember — even though there are power-hungry people who use this for their own benefit, there have been people who used it for GOOD, too. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln — the list goes on.
Capturing people’s attention — by itself — is neutral. It’s just a tool. One you can use for both good AND bad. And when you can use it for good, you have the MOST impact. You can give your gift to the world while helping peoples’ lives — and grow mighty prosperous doing it.