It was past my normal working hours. I was skimming through the presentation slides that I was actually supposed to read thoroughly. But half of my mind was already picturing me leaving the office room, driving my car on the empty road, and listening to The Beatles cassette. I can swear on my grandma’s grave that a long drive on a peaceful, noise-free road was all I wanted at that time. Thank goodness I finished reading the slides and took my car out of the parking lot. I played “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” thinking it would compensate for the tiring day. Strangely enough, It did not! My mind was already preoccupied with me laying down on my warm bed, getting an escape from the busyness and intrusiveness of the world! The song meant nothing but a distinct noise in the background.
Fast forward to my bedroom. I was tucked in a blanket, staring at the ceiling. The environment was perfect? Bets on me! I was mentally anywhere but in my room. I was worried about tomorrow’s presentation, visualizing myself in the conference hall, when suddenly a man with a nasty smile asked me a tricky question, but I failed to answer him. Everyone looked at me with pity on their faces. How embarrassing! Luna left the bed with a quick jump, interrupting my out-of-the-world imagination. It hit me like a thunderbolt.
Am I using my mind, or is my mind using me? And if my mind is using me, who are its helpers? I am living in a world that has lost the art of concentration. No, it is more. Am I part of a world that is well on the way to losing the art of being human? It seems We’re stuck in a cycle that our brains didn’t evolve for, so we’ve come up with a number of distracting tools to help us escape. A vicious Circle, don’t you think? It seems that while we are frantically trying to appear tolerant, to be the good guys, we seem to be completely losing sight of our core human values of compassion, charity, respect, fairness and the ability to stay focused with integrity in the here and NOW.
Let’s look deeply into the mirror, a soul conversation if you like. So, if it is as many sages have been trying to teach us for decades, that the true center of our power lies in being, what is it that distracts us so much and separates us from our true human superpowers – Our Nature – and how can we overcome it?
Distractive Dystopian World
Let’s start with a very simple question.
Why am I so addicted to my phone?
A rather deep explanation needed to answer this.
She is game. She lets me play when I am bored.
When I am sad. She sings songs to me.
She gets me hooked. There always something new popping from her.
The more she’s loaded. The interesting she gets.
She’s not demanding. In fact, she encourages me to sit on the couch all day.
In the last two decades, humanity has witnessed tremendous advancement in technology and science. If a time traveler from past see our world, he won’t believe his eyes. Is this magic? While there are splendid progresses, one cannot fathom but question, is there a dark side to this, are we missing something essential? As I dive deep down the rabbit hole, it appears clear what challenges we face. The legitimate question arises in my mind: Can our spiritual progress as humans still keep up?
Many of us are constantly connected to their phones, laptops, or other devices. The obsession with an endless stream of information, which can be both useful and distracting. It seems we are always expected to be responsive and updated, which can be stressful and contribute to feelings of distraction. Moreover, in the race of knowing anything and everything it can be difficult to disconnect and take a break from the constant stream of information and stimuli.
As an allegory we see Tik Tok, as one of the most downloaded apps ever where users may scroll through content indefinitely for a constant dose of dopamine and distraction. Designed to be carried away by the rush of endorphins. The fact that the typical app video lasts only 21–34 seconds only compounds the issue. The price is high: A disturbed reward system and its consequences.
Is it possible that Tiktok, Facebook and other big players’ design nurtures addiction to maximize profit and its ability to manipulate people’s views, emotions, and behavior and spread conspiracy theories and disinformation?
The ever-increasing penetration of social media into every aspect of our lives, from how we conduct business to how we spend our free time, and the constant reminder of the importance of staying connected has a severe effect. It’s done the opposite of making us more productive and focused by separating us from the natural world and introducing us to a concept known as multitasking: Constant availability of information, lack of boundries and a pressure to be constantly connected.
Researchers have shown that spending time on social media is associated with more narcissistic tendencies and worse self-esteem. Collectively, materialism reveals our want to escape our essential selves in pursuit of an ideal. Our thoughts and attitudes have become more egotistical and shallow. While it may seem innocuous in the short term, it clouds our sense of identity. It affects our perspective of others and ourselves if we do it often. Promoting narcissism and putting monetary success and status above happiness and self-worth is the result of glorifying a society of wealth and competition.
Saturday Night is Horrendous
Picture yourself on a Saturday night in a room filled with little firefly-like lights generating a very arousing ambiance. You are browsing through a stream of series on Netflix in quest of any decent level dopamine-triggering character that may make you feel like the protagonist of your own constructed fantasy.
You know what’s in store for you: a mindless two-hour scroll that leaves you feeling exhausted and listless, but then you stumble into an intriguing television show and find yourself glued to it, so you stay up late watching it, and your melatonin levels begging you to stop. Congratulations, Netflix just controlled your Saturday night, or should I say you strangled it for them?
Generation Z in Peril
It is a sinister time in our life. The next generation is constantly in peril. Infants and young children who spend too much time in front of screens show signs of developmental delays, including a diminished ability to focus and empathize.
“Brain Matters” is a documentary directed by Carlota Nelson. She discusses the dangers of infants and young children consuming too much media and the need to give them opportunities to engage in activities away from screens. How much screen time is appropriate for children, and what effects do screens have on developing brains?
Neuroscientists who investigate the effects of screen time on young children believe that screen viewing before 18 months of age has lasting negative effects on a child’s language development, reading skills, motor skills, and short-term memory.
Many would argue that digitalization allowed people to connect, relate and share and therefore helped them expand and strengthen their in-person networks and interactions. However, a recent study politely disagrees. The study analyzed the social media behavior of more than 1700 people between the ages of 19 and 32. The researchers discovered that individuals with high social media use felt more socially isolated compared to those who spent less time on social media.
Exposure to screens causes the brain to produce dopamine, which has been linked to a decline in self-control. According to research, time spent in front of a screen has effects on the brain’s prefrontal cortex that are analogous to those of the drug cocaine.
Similar to the effects of substance abuse, the pleasure and reward cycle triggered by screen time can have a detrimental effect on your life.
Battle against Distractions
The war against distractions is real and against unlimited diversions in the modern world. And so, what should we do? The plan is to create a space with zero tolerance for distractions or the things that lead to distractions. You can’t hide under a rock and hope it all goes away because there is this modern-day thing called socialism and human interaction.
Therefore, one should revisit the basics when at a loss for direction. Simplify, idiot-proof, and streamline whatever you can.
The Fundamentals-We forgot
Adaptability and evolution are serious concepts that go hand in hand in every era. Adjusting your behavior to fit in with the accepted standards of today’s chaotic world without succumbing to its influence is adaptability.
Continually growing in wisdom, stature, and character. Intensifying the quality of your life. Establishing oneself as a formidable adversary. An impregnable castle made of iron is the evolution of your existence.
The secret to unlocking these imminent abilities is to FOCUS.
Focus is the doorway to your mental processes, including perception, memorization, understanding, deduction, and choice. If we take concentration out of the equation of life, our cognitive abilities will suffer in every respect…
The book by Jack Canfield, “The Power of Focus,” answers our problems related to procrastination, aimlessness, and inefficiency. When we put the book’s suggestions into practice, we may banish the obstacles holding us back from reaching our full potential. A balanced state of mind is the first step.
How to Win against Distractions?
How to maintain constant focus? It’s a part of our everyday lives, so it’s not as taxing as it seems. The issue here is that we need to: familiarize ourselves more. To put the spotlight back on ourselves, it might be helpful to work on strengthening our connection with ourselves. Verify that our visions and goals are in line with what it is that we think, talk and do. It lies in simple rules of Recognize, Shift, and Rewire.
1. Recognize – when the mind starts to wander
The first step toward any journey is recognizing why the journey is required in the first place. Recognize your current lifestyle and your thought pattern. Be mindful of what you are consuming. You are not a robot. Life is about finding the balance between rest and active engagement in daily activities.
Cut multitasking. By juggling several tasks at once, we trick ourselves into thinking we’ve accomplished a lot. It’s a great way to make yourself less productive, less focused, less attentive, and more overwhelmed and confused. And decreased output often results in emotional exhaustion.
Put away any interruptions. This device on your hand can manipulate your decision, change your perception, and hinder your success. Put down the phone if you’re in the middle of anything crucial, even if it’s simply a typical task. If you spend six hours a day on Facebook (or any other social media), it’s time to get it to the bin. If you are addicted to your device to the point where leaving it for more than two hours makes you feel anxious, buy a cellphone locker and lock this beast.
2. Shift – Concentrate and revive.
It may mean giving your undivided attention to the task you’re working on. Even if it is washing the chores, watching your steps as you walk down the road, or talking to your friend. I mean to be totally there. Not 5 min before or ahead. Start with smaller tasks like brushing your hair or sipping your morning coffee – tasting and inhaling every sip, to more advanced tasks like preparing your presentation or doing a physically tough job.
Find solace in nature. Having plants in the workplace can improve air quality, boost employee morale, and enhance productivity. During downtime, it may be taking in the scenery, focusing on how your body feels or listening to the sounds of nature.
3. Rewire – To make it a habit
I have good news and bad news for you in one word. Neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity. Our mind is very adaptable and receptive to change. If I were to send you to a remote island, where there is no internet, you have to hunt for food, and the weather is completely opposite to your home town’s, after some time your brain will adapt to this new environment and stop fighting it. The same is true for our current distractive world. Our mind has accepted and adapted to this hustle and bustle culture because that’s all we feed it. It’s time to change the recipe.
Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to rewire and adapt itself according to your lifestyle, environment, and experience. If a certain type of environment and the societal norm has altered your mind always to wander and roam, then a custom-designed environment can encourage your mind to go back to its natural state, that is, pure consciousness and concentration. Meditation, exercise, and traveling to new places are expert ways to encourage new and healthy brain cell connections.
Be aware and meditate. You don’t have to meditate for hours or move to a city far away to get meditation’s benefits. If anything, meditation introduces us to the most basic, simplest, yet important part of our life. Breathing. Meditating for as few as 5 min each day can calm your nerves, reduce stress, and introduce you to introspection. As part of the process, we start focusing on our breath and our being.
Exercise your mind. Science tells us that brain training exercises can improve adults’ cognitive capacities, especially their capacity to focus. The learning process, selective memory, processing speed, and problem-solving ability are all bolstered by playing these kinds of brain training games. Games like chess and puzzles are perfect illustrations of this principle.
There is an inexhaustible list of strategies for regaining concentration. Still, the most important is to rethink and realign our objectives. As the epidemic confined us, we had time to consider our values and how we define freedom. As a result, many of us could spend more time with our loved ones, return to simpler forms of entertainment, and rein in our excessive consumption. The decisions we make every day have an impact on the environment; therefore, we should prioritize long-term well-being above instant gratification. Focus on alignment inside yourself. We can resist the urge toward constant materialism and egocentricity at this very moment. Even if Paradise is unattainable, we can repair and safeguard the world we’ve created.