Bryan Dijkhuizen

The Cocktail Party Effect: How Focused People Are In Control Of Their Lives

Are you focused?

I know I am a focused person. Every moment of the day I’m aware of my surroundings. Especially at places where I don’t feel comfortable.

But even in places where it’s quite noisy, the cocktail party effect states that people that are in control of their life can filter out the noise and still focus on the things they want to.

It’s a brilliant feature of our brains that make us better.

But it’s good to know that not everybody is capable of filtering out all of the noise in their lives.

That’s what makes focused people different.

Are you focused?

You’re at a party. There are a lot of people talking around you and to be honest with yourself, you don’t want to be there.

If you’re this focused person you like to talk with one person at a time.

You’re looking somebody in the eyes and you’re blocking all of the sounds around you, it becomes noise and you only hear the person you’re talking to.

That’s a great trait of being a focused person.

Because not everybody can do this. There are two sides to these people that can’t do it.

  • Extroverted people hear everything.
  • Autistic people get overstimulated and can’t block out the noise.

I was amazed at the fact that some people can hear all sounds individually in a crowded situation. I don’t, I filter them and a kind of murmur of all kinds of sound waves intermingles.

That way I can easily talk to 1 person though and focus on that sound.

This is sometimes frustrating because sometimes this hodgepodge of sounds becomes too intense. This is overstimulation.

The sounds seem to get louder and it feels like your brain is exploding.

You’re shutting off

Surely you’ve experienced this at least once in your life.

When I was a kid at school, around the age of 11/12, I used to sit in the auditorium and shut off the around me. I was just working there and exploring topics that I liked.

Teachers used to think that this was special, that I could sit there without being interrupted by all the other loud children sometimes even screaming and running around.

That’s what still benefits me.

I can work anywhere, wherever I want. Put me in a busy restaurant or coffee shop and I’ll write without being distracted by other people.

It’s like putting in earplugs that mute your surroundings for 80–90%.

Loud people don’t listen

Do you talk a lot and loudly?

Chances are high that I won’t give you any attention. I don’t care what you have to tell because you’re probably not listening.

“In most cases, the louder that you’re talking the less that you’re saying.”

Craig D. Lounsbrough

If you cannot bring yourself to shut up for a moment then it is very likely that you cannot listen to another person’s input either. Especially in groups, if you’re ‘overtalking’ me when I want to tell you something, you’ve lost me.

This happens a lot, unfortunately.

It goes like this: when you think somebody is finished talking, you attempt to start your sentence and they start talking again.

It’s so annoying.

Take back the control

We’re slowly losing control of our lives. Let me explain why that’s a bad thing.

Stoicism says that you shouldn’t worry about the things you don’t control.

But what if the amount of things in our own lives that we can control is decreasing at a high pace? Are we still benefiting from it then? I think not.

There should be certain things in our life that we have to control. The amount of stress is such a thing or the number of incentives we get. It’s our life, right?

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

Marcus Aurelius

Final thoughts

The key lesson from this article is focus.

The ability to focus in any situation will give you an advantage throughout your life.

Therefore it’s important that you’re able to be calm. My own experience tells me that meditation has helped a lot in achieving this.

Just take one or two short moments per day to sit down and breathe in and don’t think about anything else.

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