Natural attention

Most of us mean to live optimally, especially people using or exploring HumanaNatura’s natural health techniques. But our desire to make the most of our brains and bodies must confront the fact that this effort relies on them, and thus is subject to certain natural limitations and biases. We may feel clear, objective, and in control, but we know through science that this can only be partially true. Without a certain amount of humility and curiosity about our natural limits, and ongoing attention to them, we individually and collectively risk living far below our potential.

A simple but revealing example of the everyday natural limits we each face in optimizing our lives comes from a new study by the University of Minnesota. Researchers there compared reported versus actual attention to nutritional information. They found that even self-reported “health conscious” shoppers assimilated much less information than they believed. The team concluded that we are far more apt to consume information that is at the top of lists and when it is presented advantageously, confirming the general conclusions of considerable and still growing research regarding our natural cognitive and perceptual biases.

The new findings shouldn’t be a surprise, since we are not evolved for perfection or even special accuracy amidst modern life, and because there is so much established science predicting exactly these results. Another predicted finding from this field: many of us reading this story will feel exceptional and that the results don’t apply or aren’t important to us. This natural bias explains why a large majority of us believe we possess above-average intelligence and attractiveness. Such native optimism may have had survival advantages in band life on the plains of Africa, but ultimately is one of many natural biases that has important quality of life implications today – for example, causing our frequent under-appreciation of health risks or the persistence required to make positive changes stick.

Learn more about the new study at What Am I Missing, and explore our options for more attentive life via HumanaNatura’s popular article Understanding Personal Empowerment or the Natural Living section of our comprehensive Personal Health Program.

Photo courtesy of Attentive Mind.

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