There’s a distinct possibility that in reading this post at this very moment, I’m not getting your full attention. Not to undermine my own efforts here, but is there somewhere else you should be right now? Something else your brain should be focused on? You know I love that you take the time to check in here on the regular, and please, pretty please, don’t stop. BUT, I have to admit that this miraculous invention of digital technology provides endless excuses for not doing what we probably should be doing. It’s literally a distraction machine, at your fingertips at all times.
It comes at you in different ways, though, doesn’t it?
There are the distractions that find you, and the distractions you dig up for yourself. One feels like it’s out of your control, and the other (should, kinda) be within it. Is that the right distinction, though?
I mean sure, sometimes things happen in the environment around you that throw you off your focus game temporarily. These would include moments that range from loud noises to “emergency” meetings called by your CEO, fire drills, and you know, actual fires and whatnot. They pull you away, and then require you to bring your attention back to your focal point, which takes effort. Sound familiar? Stay with me…
Then there are those moments when you’re working on something boring, or complicated, or difficult, and your brain starts to slowly step away. Pretty soon, your eyes, hands, maybe even whole body follow, and you’re just-real-quick-for-five-seconds checking your phone, or eavesdropping on a conversation, or staring blankly into the middle distance…
Both of these situations are examples of distraction. They are also examples of your brain doing its job of keeping you informed, and presumably, safe. Your work, as a mindful person, is to be the one holding the leash on your mind, and not the other way around. You practice mindfulness so that you can observe what happens when your mind wanders elsewhere, and get used the gentle effort of bringing it back. You do the work so you can make the choice when it happens in everyday life about whether to take the ride and let your focus shift, or bring it back to the space where you want it to stay.
It’s probably true that the world is more distracting now than it was in generations past. I can’t say for sure, since I wasn’t there. It’s also pretty likely that a mind seeking distraction could have easily found it around a caveman’s campfire, too, though. Running away from discomfort isn’t new, and neither are the skills we practice with mindfulness. That doesn’t mean they aren’t exactly what the modern world you’re trying to rule calls for, though.
Find your focus, and you will also find your power. Pair it with a positive intention, and before you know it, you’ll be garnering exactly the attention you deserve.
Photo credit: Anthony Tran