Moodscope 14 of 20: Playing the Attentive Card

The Attentive Card14 of 20: The Attentive Card
In the fourteenth of my series on the twenty Moodscope cards, it’s the turn of the “Attentive” card. Moodscope defines this as: “paying close attention”.
Fairy-God-DaughterIf I had a Fairy Godmother (and perhaps I do), the words she would say most often to me would be, “Dearest, where is your attention?” This is because she knows about the magic of attention. I remember her saying to me over and over again as a child, “Whatever gets your attention, gets you!”  That’s what she looks like when my attention drifts to something unhelpful…

It took me a long time to understand the vital role of attetntion, but it’s true. Wherever my attention would go, my thoughts would follow.  Wherever my attetnion would lead would consume my thoughts. My thoughts would grow around my attention as if the attention was the seed.  Attention is a catalyst.

This is most obviously so when suffering a minor cold. I found that if I shifted my attention to a comedy film, I would forget all about the runny nose for 90 minutes. When it was over, my attention would shift back to my symptoms and I would suffer as only a man can suffer!

This is meant to be a positive card for Moodscope. It’s about being switched ‘in’ to the World, not switched ‘off’ like you can be when depressed. But I think it’s a three-way switch:

  • 0 = Attention Off;
  • 1 = Attention on the Positive;
  • 2 = Attention on the Negative.


To switch my attention strongly, I use a click of my fingers. A left click (sounds like a computer’s mouse doesn’t it?) wakes me up to the fact that I’ve been drifting into negative attention. I then do a right click to command myself to find something positive to attend to. One of the joys of being human is that you can only ‘attend’ to one thing at a time. So this works for me.

Now, when my Fairy Godmother asks me where my attention is, I say boldly with a click: “On the positive, Ma’am!”

There’s More: The Great Quest for…

You could stop here.  That’s all the word-count I can post on the Moodscope Blog.  However, there is much more to be said.  So much more.  In fact, we’re talking about the Holy Grail of Human Relationships.

PNG Earth to the Core

You see, “Attention” is at the Core of Life.  You could even call it the Centre of Attention!  This is because our conscious life may be described as, “The Great Quest for Attention!”  Human Beings have this “gift” of consciousness – which doesn’t seem to work very well without reference to others!

Even as a self-referenced introvert, I still need a few people along the journey to confirm my opinion of myself!  I need some dear saints to say, “You know what Lex?  You are OK!”  History is littered with the casualties of individuals who have striven for other people’s attention and approval – often with negative consequences all round.  Many, many children do this.  You see, any attention is better than no attention at all.

Well, I don’t think children should have to strive for attention.  It’s a parent’s role to let their children know daily that they are “OK!”  This is a vital aspect of love.  This doesn’t mean that everything a child does is OK – but the child themselves must know that they are fundamentally OK – OK to the Core.

I can remember an absolutely horrible, bitter and spiteful man living in Mowlem Court in Swanage, where I had my last home.  He was just nasty.  But you know what?  When he saw his grandson, his face would light up and he would pour out love on the simple child.  Even this low-life had the capacity for love.  It taught me a valuable lesson.  As the Prime Example – Jesus Himself said, “Father, forgive them… they really have no idea of what they are doing…”  (with a bit of poetic licence there on the translation!)

Lots of people on the Planet are OK – there are very few exceptions.  So now, if I do meet a partially-evolved member of the Human Race or one that is regressing down the evolutionary tree, and if they are unkind to me, I will often look them in the eye and say, “You really don’t know what you’re doing, do you?”  Their look of confusion always makes my day!  Much better to be kind!

Life Currencies

There are many types of currency in life: money, time and attention, but the greatest of these is attention.  Don’t talk to me of “love” – give me your positive attention.

A few kind words are worth their weight in gold.  Most of us don’t trade with gold directly.  We have currency notes that in England promise to pay the bearer on demand the equivalent sum in gold (but don’t try that on with the Bank of England!)  Our currency notes are “promisary notes” – and very valuable because of that.  They are so valuable that we treat them as the real thing and we trade with them.  Well words are promisary notes.  They are just a collection of letters with an emotional tone… but we’ve come to accept them as a vital part of the currency of attention.  Spend them well.

To drill down to the Core, I have to say that the most import units of attention – the real gold – is touch.  We’ve pretty much “Civilised” ourselves out of touch… and that’s exactly what so many have become: out of touch.  If I’m really low on (attention) funds, holding a loved-one’s hand is far more powerful than any words.

But I like words too.

Units of Attention

Eric Berne, who invented “Transactional Analysis” as a way to describe the way we function psychologically, coined the use of the word “Strokes” to represent “Units of Attention.”  He held that literal physical strokes (as in stroking the cat – not as in the use to describe neurological damage) were the real thing.  We accept other forms of attention as a form of strokes – and so Civilisation works… kind of.

Transactional Analysis is a rich field of discovery that I whole-heartedly recommend – I’m just touching on one vital aspect today.  Studying it will help you understand what makes people tick.

Today’s focus is on types of strokes.  These can be positive, negative and neutral.  Somewhat surprisingly, the most damaging form of attention is the neutral stroke.  I like to call it the “Neutal Bomb” because it does as much damage to our psychology as a Neutron Bomb does to the physcial being.  I think neutral strokes should be banned as weapons of destruction.  A neutral stroke is the deliberate ignoring of someone to whom attention is due.

Some misguided parents (or “non-guided” – after all, who got the manual when they first had kids?) think it kinder to send a “naughty” child to their room – to exclude them.  This is the worst possible solution to unwanted behaviour.  I’m not a child psychologist so I’d better not go any further down that route but I do believe that loving attention is far better than parental neglect.  I know that as a child and as an adult, there is only one thing I have no defence against: love.

The Dawn of the Neuro

Sample Neuro from the First Bank of Positive Attention

Sample Neuro from the First Bank of Positive Attention

Giving positive attention – and catching people getting things right – is so important that I’ve started printing my own currency!

Here in Europe, the Euro isn’t doing too well.  Since “Attention” is a neurological concept, I have invented the new currency of Attention: The Neuro!  Nowadays, I go out of my way to catch people doing a good job, and when I do, I write them out one of my “cheques” that specifically accentuates and draws attention to what they’ve done.  People think I’m nuts – but I am a very rich man – rich in love (well, for most people!)

And you know what the best thing is about dishing out Neuros?  The more you spend the more this psychologically bankrupt civilisation moves out of recession.

Let love flow!


N.B. Learning People’s Names is a great Neuro!

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