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Ever catch yourself nodding along absentmindedly during a conversation as your brain flits to a million other things? "The frenetic nature of our society—constant updates via e-mail and Twitter, for example—provides some sort of excitement every few minutes, and we've become trained to expect that," says Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth. "If we're not stimulated after a short period of time, we look around for something that will do the job. This is true whether we're reading a dull news story or involved in a conversation." To be a more attentive listener, Cabane recommends taking a moment to focus your attention on your toes. This mindfulness trick will instantly bring you back to the present—right where you belong.
Of course, the breath works too.