“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention.”
Do you find yourself constantly distracted? How about constantly “connected” to your electronics? Do you find yourself constantly checking your social media and emails 24/7? Are you fearful of missing out? Is your phone always within reach? Do you sleep with it? Is your phone on the table when you eat? Do you go to the bathroom with it? Do you shower with it? Do you find your memory lapsing? Are you unable to have a meaningful, uninterrupted conversation when in the company of friends or loved ones? Do you respond to every single text and phone call regardless of where you are, what you’re doing and with whom? If you find yourself shaking your head yes to these questions, then perhaps it’s time for you to break up with your phone or, at best, dial back your phone use.
Doesn’t it seem increasingly more difficult to obtain someone’s undivided attention these days? In my world, and perhaps in yours too, there’s nothing more distracting, disturbing and disrespectful that being with someone who is in a haze of electronic / phone addiction. An addiction? Yep, that’s exactly what it is. Just think of all the dopamine and oxytocin our brain releases, leaving us wanting more, more, more!
In all honesty, it takes the joy out of an encounter or time supposed to be spent with someone. It turns a would-be meaningful and significant gathering into a meaningless, annoying and perhaps even an empty one. Here’s a powerful visual: If you can imagine trying to converse with someone, and having an intruder constantly tap you on your shoulder, interrupting you incessantly and trying to get your attention…well this is what it’s like being with a person who is addicted to their phone and every alert, notification and various rings. This is what it is like being with a person who has been driven to distraction.
The other thing I find very disturbing and so frightening these days is still seeing people texting while driving, walking, or at a light – oblivious of the potential danger that may be coming their way. Distracted driving is truly an epidemic. Accident statistics for distracted driving and distracted pedestrians have been on the rise over the years, yet we “don’t get it.” What’s not to get? Why do we willingly put our lives, or the lives of our children, grandchildren and loved ones on the line? The audacity…how dare we!!! How about we engage in conversation with whomever is in the car with us? How about we give our undivided attention to driving in the first place and being accountable for the lives for which we are responsible?
If we want to own the privilege of being alive, truly blossom into our “humanness” and capture moments, we desperately need to pay attention. We need to be present. We need more face to face contact. Interacting with others, looking into each other’s eyes, listening deeply, reading each other’s body language, and connecting on deeper levels cannot, and must not, become a lost art!
How disturbing is it to see the lack of face to face contact among family members and even couples out in public? I swear sometimes I feel like we are going to start seeing a generation who will be selectively mute. Can we all agree there is definitely a difference in our intellectual and social skills when we are present and face to face with someone vs. when we rely on electronic forms of communications (which is often mis-communication)? I’d like to think so!
Our mental health and physical safety are really on the line these days. If we know the pitfalls of being driven to distraction, why is it so difficult to attain a healthy relationship with our electronics?
Here are a few tips for doing just that:
- Notice what the first thing you do is upon opening your eyes in the morning
- Start your morning in gratitude, meditation or prayer
- Do not bring your phone into the bathroom other than perhaps to listen to music
- Refrain from answering the phone when you’re in the shower or on the toilet
- Pay more attention to when and how often you scroll through social media and check emails
- Just for one day, take note of every time you scroll through social media and length of time you were consumed in that task…physically write it down add up the time (guaranteed you will be blown away)
- Try it for a week (you’ll be shocked)
- Designate specific times of the day to check in
- Look up more often – especially when someone is talking
- Take notice of your posture whenever you’re engaged with your electronics
- Set a timer throughout the day where you just stop and breathe (and if at work, walk away from your computer)
- Challenge yourself to waiting 10-15 minutes before checking your phone each time you have the urge to look at it
- Disable unnecessary alerts and reduce notifications (news, pop-ups, posts, emails, etc)
- Unsubscribe to unecessary emails
- Put your phone on airplane mode when in a meeting, having meals, at the movies, in class or spending quality / intimate time with friends, family and lovers
- Shut off your phone more often for an extended time – an hour or two or perhaps longer
- Place your phone in a drawer, another room or out of sight when you are reading, writing, meditating, having sex, etc. (out of sight-out of mind)
- Put your phone on Do Not Disturb while driving and encourage your children to do the same (key here is to lead by example)
- Keep your phone in your pocket or bag when walking anywhere and be aware of your surroundings
- Look people in the eyes and smile more – acknowledge their presence
- Give yourself a curfew, unplug a couple of hours before going to bed and, as Arianna Huffington encourages in her book, Thrive, “Politely escort your electronics out of your bedroom”
- Take a digital detox and spend valuable time doing the things you say you never have time to do
The idea here is to set some healthy boundaries for ourselves. In doing so, we remove unnecessary distractions, alter our brain chemistry and feel more relaxed and at ease. When we take the time to assess how we are utilizing our time for needless activities, we come to appreciate how precious time really is. We start looking up more, we come to realize that all we have is time, and what we choose to do with it is the game changer. As Wayne Dyer was known for saying, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”
And on this note, have you ever seen the YouTube video, Look Up, by Gary Turk? The official video is about three years old, and it’s billed as a “spoken word film for an online generation.” How about the one by Max Stossel called This Panda is Dancing – Time Well Spent? It speaks to the “architects of the digital world” and is pretty cool and so on point. Check it out, check it out, check it out!!!
It is my sincere hope that you take away from Driven to Distraction No More whatever it is you needed. As always, feel free to share and pass on! Oh, and remember to find ways to inspire, love, serve AND lead from the heart…right from the start!
Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC