There’s plenty of opportunity, convenience, fun, and entertainment to be enjoyed courtesy of the modern world. Especially its assorted technological and social innovations. But, it’s also absolutely the case that the sheer abundance of distraction, entertainment and the overwhelming flow of information in general that now surrounds us. Well, it can contribute in a major way to chronic stress, anxiety, distraction and uncertainty.
Often, a person’s life may look more or less idyllic from the outside. But when push comes to shove, it turns out that the individual in question is constantly scrambling back and forth to try and balance and make sense of their everyday challenges. Many of us exist more or less permanently in a state of chronic distraction and unease.
Of course, life is naturally complicated and tricky. However, there’s a lot of evidence that it becomes more manageable if we are able to find some peace. In other words step back from the mindless distraction that confronts us on a daily basis.
The writer and academic Cal Newport argues that this freedom from distraction not only allows us to do meaningful “deep work”. But also improves overall quality of life. Plenty of research has been done showing that things like social media addiction are real, and can cause serious problems for our sense of well-being.
Here are a few tips on how to find peace away from all the mindless distraction.
Check in with yourself – Establish daily, low-tech “unwinding” rituals
If you find yourself feeling constantly stressed out and distracted. Then it’s pretty likely that you’re not allowing yourself enough opportunities during the day to “unwind” and properly check in with yourself.
If you go straight from work to binge-watching TV series’. To then watching a random collection of videos on YouTube. Followed by crashing into bed far too late, you are giving your mind very few opportunities to actually centre itself, and enjoy a moment of pause.
To counteract this, you need to establish daily, low-tech “unwinding” routines and rituals. Moments where you can actually catch your breath, get in touch with yourself. Relax a bit in the absence of constant background noise.
The specifics of how this routine plays out will depend on your own interests and preferences. You could pick up some goods from Euflora, if that’s your thing, or you could spend some time reading a book, meditating, doing some gardening, or working on a DIY project.
Either way, make sure that you have these routines in place, and act them out on a daily basis – especially when it comes time to wind down for bed.
Put Deliberate Obstacles in the Way of Your Tech Use
Easily the number one source of distraction in most of our lives today is the various forms of technology now in our homes. From widescreen TVs, to computers, laptops, electronic tablets, smartphones, et cetera.
In his book “Irresistible,” the writer Adam Alter looks at the phenomenon of electronic technologies, and especially Internet programs, being addictive. Among other things, he lists plenty of research evidence that shows that many of these systems – and especially social media platforms – actively practice psychological manipulation techniques lifted straight from the gambling industry. They do this to get past people’s individual willpower. The goal is to make them spend as much of the time interacting with the sites as possible.
The bottom line here is that the reason you might spend three hours a day on your social media profiles, is because those platforms specifically target and appeal to the lowest, most animal-like parts of your brain. Thus bypassing your more conscious and thoughtful side.
Keeping that in mind, it’s not difficult to see why using willpower alone to limit this kind of distraction is often a very difficult, or even fruitless, thing to do.
If you want to silence these sorts of distractions, you should look into putting deliberate obstacles in the way of your tech use, so that your own willpower is backed up by external help.
Set a web blocker to run during certain times of the day. Get rid of your TV altogether. Or delete your social media profiles.
However you go about it, your life is much more likely to become positive and distraction-free. Provided you use the power of intentional environment-design to help you out.
Focus More on Your Own Life and Environment
It’s really easy to be completely obsessed and caught up in the large-scale cultural and political happenings of the day. Especially when you’ve got media sources both online and offline constantly filling the airwaves with information. Painting some pretty troubling pictures of what’s going on.
Of course, it’s good to have some idea of what’s happening culturally and politically in your neck of the woods. But, as a general rule, it’s important to realize that becoming overly obsessed with those things is only likely to cause you frustration, distraction and worry.
Political and cultural trends tend to develop slowly, and change slowly. It’s difficult to properly pin down the many factors that go into influencing them. What is certain is that you have much more power to manage and make a positive impact in your immediate vicinity than you do on a larger scale.
Make a point of focusing the majority of your energy and attention on your own life, your immediate environment, and the people close to you.
By making a success of your own business you can dramatically change your own reality. You can impact your local community in positive ways, too.
By reaching out to relatives and making the effort to do something special for them on their birthdays, you can dramatically change the course of their day, their mood and maybe even your whole family culture.
Perhaps organizing your own home and refining your own dreams and goals for the future, you can unlock vast wells of potential for your own future.
However, by arguing over politics on Reddit, or watching the news for hours every day. You’re only dissipating your energies and making your life worse as a rule.
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