On first blush, this is easy.
You measure your attention by the amount of time you spend on any one thing.
Work; 35 hours per week.
Housework; 5 hours per week.
TV; 20 hours per week.
Exercise; not enough.
Sleeping; 40 hours per week.
Drinking; way too much.
You get the picture.
But, how much attention are you actually paying to what you’re doing?
Or, to put it another way, what don’t you see?
Life is life, right?
It goes on. Period.
And that’s certainly how most people see it: one foot in front of the other.
If we do pay attention (to anything) it’s mostly when we’re torn apart by a life-changing event, e.g. the loss of a loved one, a change of fortune or Black Dog. But they don’t take up much of our lives. That’s not to say we don’t live with the consequences but we don’t give enough attention to their import.
And no, in case you’re wondering, I’ve not mastered this. Sure, I know the difference between presence and a wandering mind but my attention is wayward at the best of times.
I wish it were otherwise?
But there’s a fine line between pursuing something and being something. Yes, you’ve got to have a frame of reference, but when the thing you’re seeking is nothing more than a goal, you’re easily distracted from being attentive to what is.
Perhaps in the end, this is life: you’re either paying attention or you’re not.
That said, if you need a point of reference, look at your extant life and ask yourself what difference it would make if you paid attention to something new, something fresh.
As an example, pay attention to nature and not to work.
That might just be enough to wake you up to what life really has to offer.