Treat Your Attention With Respect
Recently, I’ve been running into more than a few people who don’t pay attention. For example:
- I needed to connect with a friend. I texted her that I was available to talk all day except at 10 am, 2 pm and 3 pm. She replied okay, then proceeded to call me at 2 pm when I was already on the phone.
- I was at the bank drive-through a while back. I sent the teller the check that had “For Deposit Only" stamped on the back, along with my company name and account number, and a completed deposit slip.
When he received it, the teller asked, "Did you want to cash this?"
- I asked my chiropractor if she offered nutritional counseling for vegetarians. She said, "Oh yes, I can cure you of vegetarianism." She proceeded to tell me all the amazing things she could do for me once she helped me start eating meat. She went on for at least five minutes.
I didn’t say a word because I didn’t ask to be "cured" of vegetarianism. I simply asked if she offered nutrition counseling for vegetarians.
Consider the Lilies
I notice a lot of things going on around me. As a writer/actor, I think observation lives in my bones. It’s a natural part of who I am. Well, that's half of it.
The other half is probably because I don’t always have my nose in a screen or buds in my ears. I spend my work days in silence, without music or other distractions. I'm the person who could spend hours happily tending to my plants. I'm the one you see leisurely sitting on a bench at Starbucks, watching people go by.
My family thinks I have an amazing memory, recalling details of events, what was said and more. The truth is, my memory is average. However, my ability to pay attention is exceptional.
But I notice that when I'm avoiding something that I don't want to do, I tend to run to technology. The proper term is self-medicating.
Today, we're connected 24/7 so we can see our shows or listen to our music or chat with friends or stay on social media so we don't miss out. While I like to stay connected with friends and family, I also like to connect with God, with nature, with myself.
I like paying attention to my heart and my thoughts because that's where all the juicy, delicious parts of life live. Excessive amounts of time on my devices stifle that easy flow, so I stay off them as much as possible.
Plus, if I'm constantly distracting myself with input from others, how can I ever be able to consider input from myself? My own thoughts, my own ideas, my "aha" moments, that still, small voice that speaks clearly and succinctly.
It's All About Respect
"Treat your attention with respect." That's what Dr. Cal Newport said in this TEDx Talk entitled Quit Social Media. He shows how distracted living affects our well-being, physically, emotionally and mentally. The results are significantly more serious than I realized.
While he specifically addresses social media, I believe all electronic devices can create the fragmented attention span that reduces our ability to concentrate.
Personally, I don't care what the statistics say. I stay off technology simply because it feels good. At the end of a day of silence or no screens, I feel refreshed and energized.
So what do you think? Is technology creating new levels of distraction for us? If so, how are you handling it? Let me know on my Facebook page.
Be #True, and have a Refreshing and Productive Day!