Besieged at every turn by distractions, we spend a lot of time struggling to pay attention, concentrate, and focus on the task in front of us.
What we don’t do, according to University of Southern California professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, is fully appreciate the value of the more diffuse mental activity that characterizes our inner lives: daydreaming, remembering, reflecting.
Our brains have two operating systems, Immordino-Yang and her coauthors explain in a recent article published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. The first, which they call the “looking out system,” orients our attention to the external environment, allowing us to get stuff done. The other, which they term the “looking in system,” directs us inward, setting our thoughts free to wander.
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