Hungry Ghosts and the Attention Economy

What disaster do you remember the best from 2020? 

Maybe you can’t even remember some of the earlier ones – like the time we all thought World War Three was rumbling in the distance back in February. 

For you, the last six months of limited mobility and rising Coronavirus rates might take the cake. 

Perhaps you quit your job and have been caring for your children full time at home – something you never thought you’d do.

Unfortunately, 2020 is not a cursed year. When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, 2020, a fairytale witch’s spell does not dissolve, lifting the dark, ominous curtain that has shaded everyone’s lives this year on planet Earth.

January 1st, 2021 will follow the day before it, and the problems we have now will still have to be dealt with.

Welcome to the new normal.

That means we’ll need to be fortified… with strength, maybe, but definitely with focus.

It’s been a tough year for focus… Even for me. I had a lot of projects this year that I’d promised myself I would accomplish. I’m a householder, just like you – people rely on me and my relationship to my word.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that I’ve done a lot this year. But in watering certain plants in my life garden, I let others wither.

Like my podcast, for example. You could call that my first real link to you. In launching a new streaming service, two brand new docu-series, and cultivating la dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing), I let my podcast slip from my attention.

That’s why I recorded a new one for you, about my reflections on this year and my purpose for next year. 

The Silicon Six and the Attention Economy

The six CEOs of Facebook, Google, Youtube, Alphabet, and Twitter offer free services.

You don’t have to pay to use any of them.

And as The Social Dilemma masterfully pointed out, if you aren’t being charged to use something, you’re paying in another commodity.

In this case, it’s your attention. 

And they are filthy rich on nothing but your eyeballs. 

That’s catastrophic news for you and me and everyone else. It is almost unavoidable to use these services and thrive in today’s economy. Unfortunately, we can’t all be homesteaders tucked away in the forest or ascetics meditating in the Himalayas.

I’m not saying “stop using Google.” I’m saying, realize what’s happening to your attention while you’re racking up tabs on your browser and counting likes on your Instagram post.

We all have people we want to be. It’s a real shame that kids get asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” much more than “Who do you want to be?”

Who I want to be is someone whose shen follows from qi. That’s basically Chinese medicine-speak for, I want to be someone whose energy follows my spirit.

The problem is that when your attention is being mined by six people and their efforts, that’s where your energy will go – because that’s where your focus is.

Okay. So then we have to redirect our focus. 

Hungry Ghosts

When someone says something and does something else, Buddha called that person a “hungry ghost.”

Sound like you? I’ll tell you what, sometimes it sounds like me too.

But life is happening. And we’re not really choosing how we’re living. 

I’ve done a lot of work developing my Life Garden theory…

And there are a lot of people out there with similar ideas – that’s what gave birth to the quote card plagiarists. The thing is, those cards don’t do anything.

You need action. I actually wrote an entire book about how to take that action, because if there is a “missing piece” in this puzzle… it’s that. 

Give the podcast a listen, because that’s where you’re going to find out about:

  • How we’re being driven in this crisis of consciousness as hungry ghosts. 
  • Why weeding your life garden is a constant and necessary practice.
  • Where life gets easier when you accept it’s hard.
  • The layout of my new book, “Focus: Bringing Time, Energy, and Money Into Flow” and where you can buy it.
  • How to get access to the 21-Day Focus Course I created as a companion guide to the book – it’s $200, but I’m offering it for free when you buy the book.
  • Where to get an “Urban Monk” cap that is not for sale anywhere else.

Check it out here, guys. 

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