15 Ways To Pay More Attention – Why Don’t We Pay Attention?

by Sherry Riter in Bella {a dog's story}  ,Choice,Family,Mom,Self-Development  

After chipping, cracking or breaking hundreds of glass objects and bones and obtaining cuts in every size or shape all “by accident,” I’ve learned a few things about focusing. Am I just a walking time bomb or is my klutzy behavior based on a lack of attention?

Today I will share a list of why we don’t pay attention and give you some ways to pay more attention as a preventative to mishaps and less fulfilling opportunities. I will also recount two stories from what should have been just an uneventful Friday and both were caused by lack of attention.

Bella laying all snuggled between the arm of the couch and a pillow

Why We Don’t Pay Attention

Let’s start with something from my favorite book…the dictionary. The definition of “attention” as found in the American Heritage Dictionary is:

at·ten·tion (noun)
1.a. The act of close or careful observing or listening.
b. The ability or power to keep the mind on something; the ability to concentrate.
c. Notice or observation.
2. The act of dealing with something or someone; treatment.

Attention doesn’t include everything we want to do right this second or cover everything within our visual field. Being able to pay attention during an action means that we can focus on one thing and keep our mind on it through the duration. Losing the ability to keep our full attention focused often diminishes the experience.

Some of the reasons that we are unable to pay more attention to the tasks, experiences, duties and responsibilities at hand include:

  • Too comfortable in our surroundings and take it for granted.
  • Overconfident in our abilities.
  • Thinking too much about the big picture.
  • Fear that we will not get it all done.
  • Filling our lives with too many activities.
  • Not living in the moment.
  • Having too much clutter around us.
  • Believing that true multitasking is a reality. (Can you eat a sandwich, whistle and chew gum at the same time? No, you can’t.)
  • Not having a place for everything to reside when not in use.
  • Not putting back things into their proper place after use.
  • Boredom.
  • There’s not a lot of emotion tied in with the experience.
  • Being too tired.
  • We are not at optimal health.
  • Believing that looking and seeing are the same thing.

Wow! Do we really have so much stuff to do that we are unable to pay attention when it is necessary? Actually, no matter how many tasks are bearing down on you, the outcome will be better if you pay more attention to the details. In some instances, not paying attention to the details can be the difference between living and dying.

Ways To Pay More Attention

There are definite advantages to paying more attention to the details and as I like to say, “Take the time to stop and smell the roses.” There are several character or life modifications that can be made to ensure that we pay more attention to what we are doing right this minute.

  • Don’t rush. Slo-o-o-o-o-o-ow down.
  • Take breaks frequently.
  • Get plenty of sleep. You’ve heard it before – 7 to 8 hours minimum each night.
  • Exercise. Walking around the block is a good start.
  • Stop procrastinating.
  • Get help if you have too much to do, so that you can take the time you need to fulfill the task.
  • Eat nutritious food and remain hydrated.
  • Avoid harmful substances.
  • Alternate between easy or unfulfilling tasks and tedious or exciting tasks.
  • Learn relaxation skills through hypnosis.
  • Practice. Practice picking out details just like a criminal investigator does while investigating a crime.
  • Make a conscious effort to notice things that may cause a problem or be an obstacle.
  • Sharpen your mental functions through brain exercises.
  • Organize your life.
  • Don’t over fill your life with activities. Quality is better than quantity.

Examples Of Not Paying Attention

A&D Ointment is great at healing “Flaky patches of irritated skin usually occurring in exposed areas” and is for more people than just babies. As we age, there is less moisture in our skin and sometimes it is necessary to have some help in healing the dry spots.

My mother is one of those people who has reached an older age and sometimes uses A&D Ointment for her dry patches. Another thing about my mother is that she has always believed that everything should be kept as neat and tidy as the Better Homes And Garden magazine cover. So with that bit of background, this is what she told me…

“I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I picked up the tube, put a generous amount on my toothbrush and started brushing. I had finished a complete coverage of all my teeth before I realized that I had used the A&D Ointment instead of the toothpaste. The A&D Ointment was stuck like glue to my teeth. It was so gross! I can still taste it!”

Ummm…yeah. Gross!!! Of course, it could have been totally avoided had Mom been paying attention to what she was doing. (Laughing out loud at the vision of Mom with A&D Ointment all over her teeth!)

The second example has to do with sweet Bella!

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I treat Bella like my child. When I am home, I always know where she is and what she is doing because she does have a tendency to be too inquisitive. As I was moving some boxes around, I noticed that Bella seemed to be acting a little tired, but I kept on working on the boxes.

Alyssa was in her room with the music blasting and then she left to spend the evening with friends. While I was putting stuff back into the closet, Bella went into Alyssa’s room. When I was finished, I started calling for Bella, but she didn’t appear. So I got my keys, went to the front door, unlatched the lock and then headed for Alyssa’s room shaking the keys. That’s my latest trick to help me find Bella when she is hiding and it seems to work pretty good so far. Bella slowly came out from under Alyssa’s bed.

When I picked her up, I noticed that she wasn’t acting like herself at all. She was very limp, tired and her eyes were rolling around her head. This is where Alyssa is going to deny it, but Bella ate something in Alyssa’s room and I suspect it was either a Benedryl or Sudafed. At the time, I had no idea and was basically freaking out.

I called Alyssa and told her to get home! Ten minutes later Alyssa was home and calm. She stuck around for a few hours as Bella kept getting sleepier and sleepier, but I felt so scared. I’m sure part of my reaction was exacerbated by my PTSD, but I was very scared that Bella was going to die.

Obviously, I was stuck to Bella all night like the A&D Ointment that was stuck to Mom’s teeth. At 5:00 a.m. Bella opened her eyes, wagged her tail, licked my face and rested her paws across my chin and forehead. Then she leaped up, ran to the window and barked at the moon. To say that I was tremendously relieved is truly an understatement.

So it is my belief that if Alyssa had paid more attention to the things she drops on her bedroom floor, none of this would have happened with Bella. That is my story, Alyssa, and I’m sticking to it. Besides, all the people who read my blog know all about nineteen year olds, so I have a whole bunch of support backing me up!

Bella is so adorable sleeping between the arm of the couch and the pillow.

Are You Paying Attention

After all this talk about paying more attention, do you think you are totally aware?

Watch this…

Were you paying attention?



This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Skip_D April 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

Poor Bella! I’m so glad she’s OK! And your poor mom! Yuccchhhhh!

Thanks for these excellent pointers on the importance of attentiveness, how easy it can be not to pay attention, & suggestions for improving one’s ability to attend to details.


2 The Redhead Riter April 21, 2012 at 11:49 am


Mom is doing that kind of stuff ALL THE TIME!!! Obviously, I know where my craziness originates. I would have loved to have seen her face when she discovered it LOL LOL


3 katlupe April 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm

This is the second time Bella ate something she shouldn’t have! Not forgetting about the bra episode. I think little dogs tend to eat stuff more than big dogs. I am glad she is okay, and I’d keep her in my sight all the time so she couldn’t eat something bad again.


4 The Redhead Riter April 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I know Katlupe!!! Bella is driving me nuts with her voracious appetite for everything she shouldn’t eat!!!


5 Karen April 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm

My little Duggy is the same way. In fact he goes out and picks and eats all the baby bell peppers off my plants. So happy to hear Bella is okay, so scary!
As for the moonwalking bear…Nope!


6 The Redhead Riter April 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Thank you Karen! I would be HOT if Bella ate my nice garden veggies!!! LOL


7 andy April 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Tricky, tricky. I saw the bear. Yes, yes, yes I am aware.
Yes I am, even though I had seen this clip before…


8 The Redhead Riter April 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Somehow I am not surprised that you saw the bear, Andy!


9 Lisa April 22, 2012 at 6:54 am

LOL – The part with you using the ointment for toothpaste. I’ve done things like that in the past. I’m always rushing. But I did count 13. Good thing it was a short video otherwise I probably would not been able to pay attention through it. Glad Bella is okay too!


10 The Redhead Riter April 22, 2012 at 7:41 am

You counted all 13, but did you see the gorilla, Lisa?

If you brush your teeth with A&D Ointment, I want to see a picture! 😉


11 Sue April 22, 2012 at 11:28 am

I can so relate to the dog eating something off the floor that was dropped by a daughter and/or husband, or even me for that matter. In the kitchen I know there was a pill (vitamin or sudafed or Aleve) dropped and I can’t find it and keep thinking my Anya (Cavachon) is going to find it and eat it. So, your story struck home immediately. So glad your Bella is okay.


12 The Redhead Riter April 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Thank you Sue! I’m so glad too!!!


13 mom April 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm

You want mom to take time to smell the roses? Do you remember me doing just that and sucking a bug up my nose!!!?

I finally cleaned my teeth with Arm and Hammer baking soda and bleached them for five hours,lol. They are now clean and white, just about the color of that cream,lol.

How about you —- You left your brand new Honda in the driveway. We heard a neighbor knocking on the door and they told us that the car was sitting in the middle of the road. Someone had totalled it as they came around the curve!

Then there as the time that you would not listen to me and you ended up sewing the sleeve in the blouse three times incorrectly.

How about when you threw away the gold dust from the lab in the trash thinking it was dirt. It was worth $12,000.00 dollars! I still laugh at that one. I never saw our boss move so fast.

Of course, I also remember telling you for 8 years that the iron was hot. One day, when I left the room, you put your whole palm on it to see if it was really hot and if I was telling you the truth,lol,

Now I am laughing because you told the world I am old and need A&D ointment on my old crocodile skin. Oh by the way, I love you!


14 The Redhead Riter April 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Yep, Mom, I’m guilty as charged.


15 Carol (artmusedog) April 22, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Glad Bella is okay ~ Keep her out of Alyssa’s room would be my suggestion ~ After I got out of the hospital seeing my brother (I had left my dog (yorkie) in the car (it was cold and rainy) but she doesn’t like being left in the car ~ and I arrive to find her gasping for breathe(they have very small tracheas) and she had worked herself up barking while I was gone & it scared me ~ She quickly recovered ~ Paying Attention can be a lot work ~ thanks ~ namaste, ^_^


16 The Redhead Riter April 22, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Paying attention, Carol, is a tremendous amount of work! Your little dog is so cute!


17 Louise Sorensen August 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm

The one time I brought a poisonous plant downstairs to clean it up, I left it on a table and forgot about it for a few days.
One of our cats, young Bareep, jumped on the table and ate some of the plant. I only noticed this by accident. He was frothing a little at the mouth. This was at 1:00am.
I panicked, phoned our vet, found out he was off duty and the only emergency vet was 30 miles away.
What followed was the fastest packing up and transport of a cat to to a vet I’ve ever accomplished.
And the fastest 30 mile drive. Luckily, there was little traffic, and the vet was ready for us.
They gave Bareep something to make him vomit, IV fluids, and monitored him all night, and I had to go back and pick him up at 6:00that morning.
A very expensive mental lapse.
I’ve always been very careful, gone that extra mile to check the indicator lights on our cooling system, kept poisonous plants out of reach of the animals…
These things happen. The best we can hope for is a good outcome.


18 The Redhead Riter August 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm


That must have been terrifying! 30 miles is a long way to have to drive will feeling panic and fear!!!! It is so good that you saw the cat frothing.

I’m hyper about that stuff now. I have to be because Bella (the dog) will eat ANYTHING. Ugh.


19 Jerel Gall July 17, 2014 at 9:06 am

Don’t agree with the blame.


20 Sherry Riter July 19, 2014 at 11:04 am



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