Dreams determine what our waking minds pay attention to
Research had already shown that sleep, and dream sleep in particular, plays a major role in mood regulation […] Today we know that both deep sleep and REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep – the phase of sleep in which dreaming occurs) play important roles in how memories change over time. The sleeping brain reshapes memory by increasing the imprint of emotionally relevant information while helping irrelevant material fade away. In a series of elegant studies Robert Stickgold and his colleagues showed that the sleeping brain can even make sense out of information whose relevance is unclear while we are awake and integrate it into the larger memory system" Dreams keep replaying, recombining, and reintegrating pieces of old memories for months and even years." They constantly update the subterranean realities that determine what our waking minds pay attention to. […]
Stickgold, Hobson, and their colleagues thus discovered that dreams help to forge new relationships between apparently unrelated memories.
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity... It is, in short, the subject of the history of the Grail. Only a predestined being has the ability to ask another: what is your torment? And he doesn't have it when he enters life. He has to go through years of dark night.
Source: Letter to the poet Joë Bousquet, 1942
A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.
Beauty always has an element of strangeness. I do not mean a deliberate cold form of strangeness, for in that case it would be a monstrous thing that had jumped the rails of life. But I do mean that it always contains a certain degree of strangeness, of simple, unintended, unconscious strangeness, and that this form of strangeness is what gives it the right to be called beauty. It is its hallmark, its special characteristic. Reverse the proposition and try to imagine a commonplace beauty! (…) This element of strangeness which constitutes and defines individuality, without which there is no beauty, plays in art (and may the precision of this comparison excuse its triviality) the role of taste or flavouring in cookery; if the individual usefulness or the degree of nutritious value they contain be excepted, viands differ from each other only by the idea they reveal to the tongue.
You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later they’re as dull as a brick? Then there’s other people, when you meet them you think, “Not bad. They’re okay.” And then you get to know them and… and their face just sort of becomes them. Like their personality’s written all over it. And they just turn into something so beautiful.
Amy Pond, in British fiction television series Doctor Who.