Tag Archives: distraction

The Secret to Creating Loving Close Ties

By Linda Newlin


Most of us need and want more connection and closeness with those in our lives.  However, we have many things that keep us separate and distant from them.

What creates closeness and loving connections with those we love?

There are many theories and methods people have touted as keys to creating loving and close relationships, but I am reminded today by my own 10 year old wise one about what is the #1 thing that creates closeness for him.  Continue reading




Sorry, to interrupt. But. Can you hear it?

Sure you can. Don’t fight it. Don’t deny it. Own it. It’s been poking and stoking you for a little while now. Can you feel the relentless tapping and rapping? The kneeing and the freeing of you?

Teasing and breezing right by you, like a butterfly tornado, faster and faster, trillions of flapping wings, an infinite number of times over, until it finally gets your attention. And it never gives up, because we both know that it already gets you. It knows, that you know, that I know, that you know, the deal.

Yes, now you are letting it, and getting it. Continue reading

12 Steps to Cultivate Laser-Like Focus

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 3.02.13 PMMost people attribute living life in distraction to stress and busyness. No matter whose fault, the external or the internal, not being completely present because you are multi-tasking or ruminating about what’s next on the list can lead to critical errors in judgment and careless mistakes. You might even notice that when you are distracted, you are more accident prone. And everything takes longer to do because distraction feeds directly into procrastination.

Distraction usually happens inside out. A daydream or a worry dominates the real, present moment. To stop being absent, begin to cultivate the habit of focused attention during the good times, the lighter days with less to do, because you want this alive and alert mindset to become a reflex action when you are stressed. Stress makes you revert to habituated pathways, so make good focus your go-to mindset. A Zen saying states: Be master of your mind rather than be mastered by it.

12 Steps to Cultivate Laser-Like Focus:

  1. Clean out the clutter both mental and physical. Clutter obscures goals and confuses problem-solving.
  2. Make up your mind to be aware. When you find your mind wandering, observe it and don’t judge. Simply bring yourself back to the moment.
  3. Bring your attention back to your breath when you feel distracted. Relax your breathing into deeper, slower and shallower breaths. Breathing deeper oxygenates your brain to improve focus.
  4. Words are very powerful. They can trigger stress by bringing on a negative mindset, or calm you down and remind you to be present to the task at hand.
  5. Have a phrase prepared in advance which accomplishes this relaxation response for you.
  6. For most people some sort of exercise triggers mindfulness which then transfers to activities of daily living. Exercising is like a moving meditation and promotes focused attention to all other tasks.
  7. When you are involved in conversations, start to really listen. Listening attentively is great training for a sharper focus.
  8. No matter how mundane, reinvent the task at hand with enthusiasm to make it new. Imagine how the task is a step to accomplishing a major goal, can heal a nagging thought, or promote a pathway of discipline.
  9. Cluster all the single tasks that are in proximity of each other – either physically like in the same neighborhood or mentally because they require the same kind of analytics to achieve them. This is the antidote to multi-tasking.
  10. Don’t gobble your food or eat on the run. Practice eating mindfully. Live in greater awareness regarding all things.
  11. Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. Distraction begins in the land of shame and guilt.
  12. If you daydream a lot when you drive, attend class, or do your work, set aside daily time for daydreaming. If your daydreams are distracting you, maybe they are trying to tell you something. Once you identify the message or see a pattern, your focus will quickly improve.

Are You Really That Busy?

Our society is preoccupied with busyness. Tim Kreider’s, “The Busy Trap,” as published in the NY Times on June 30, 2012, has brought the issue to the forefront, provoking hundreds of readers’ responses. For some, busyness is a sure fire strategy to create time for the self, “I wish I could, but I’m too busy to go out with you.” This excuse is a more polite form of saying no and works well to create less stress and more leisure.

However, for others busyness is a sinister self-driven strategy to elevate one’s status as an important person who is always needed whether at work, social obligations or children’s busy activities. For this role one must be tied to the cell phone, an important prop, even during vacation or sleep. And for most of us busyness is a stressful coping mechanism to escape personal unhappiness – to avoid thinking about who we are and where we are going with all this.

Can you tell the difference between a high energy person who lives intensely, fully present, and the nervous, stressful energy of someone always living in the future for what’s next on the to-do list? If you fall into the latter category or know someone who does, it usually means living in distraction and in fear of one’s own quiet company.

The symptoms of a busyness addict:

  • Dramatic vocabulary: “Crazy busy,” “Frazzled”
  •  Irritability/pessimism
  •  Physical symptoms of stress: Pain, fatigue, insomnia
  •  Feeling guilty when you have nothing to do
  •  Highly critical of the self and others
  •  Cravings for sugar and fat
  •  Feeling unappreciated
  •  Hungry for compliments
  •  All activities – even fun and sex – viewed as accomplishments
  •  An artificial version of the self/wearing a mask over one’s identity

How to avoid robbing yourself of time and energy: Here are 10 questions to help you disconnect from busyness and reconnect with the self:

1. What makes me happy?

2. What do I enjoy doing when I lose track of time

3. What energizes rather than depletes me?

4. What helps me serve myself in order to better serve others?

5. What do I need to clearly communicate to get others to help me?

6. Why do I always judge/criticize others?

7. Do I know my “intellectual capital”?

8. Do I dare to be outrageous by changing up my predictable routine?

9. Can I separate who I am from what I do?

10. Can I explore what it takes to be the opposite of who I am?

photo by: gcoldironjr2003

What You Should Know About Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking in our technology-overloaded lives is a given. Many of us still believe in the myth that we are more productive when we multi-task, but research studies prove us wrong. Single tasking, one focused assignment after the other, is the most effective method for accomplishment.  Daily juggling dilutes, depletes, depresses, and oh that stress! Then why do we still multi-task?

There are three basic reasons for multi-tasking:

1. Technology overload  plays havoc with focus and increases the need for distraction to self-soothe

2. The more you multi-task, your brain gets used to the habit.

3. Multi-tasking gives you emotional rewards.

Professor Zheng Wang from Ohio State University observed college students who were studying and watching TV at the same time.  He concluded that the students seemed to be wrong about their perceptions regarding the positive feelings they received from multitasking. They were not being more productive like learning the material for the exam; in fact, watching TV impaired their studying, but they did feel more relaxed and entertained; Wang labels this as emotional satisfaction.

Surveys show that multi-tasking is here to stay even if it impairs productivity. This is analogous to those endless to-do lists we adhere to which ultimately leads to stress, exhaustion and a spirit-depleting lifestyle.   However, this stressful habit which pulls us in different directions can be changed with awareness.

5 easy steps to greater productivity:

  1. Get back to basics, the ABC of things when you are doing more, but accomplishing less. Stop, breathe and simplify your execution.
  2. Find a hobby that is restorative because you are passionate about it. You will re-habituate to single-minded attention by letting your brain sense how good it feels.
  3. Create a technology free zone in the bedroom. Sleep is an important single task – so don’t dilute and multi-task. Turn your cell phone off while you sleep. The artificial blue light wakes up the brain and the ping of a call, text or email is disruptive to sleep. Don’t wake up with a sleep deficit because you will be stressed as soon as your day begins.
  4. Reset your natural rhythm periodically during the day. This can be as easy as going outside, opening a window or keeping a plant on your desk.
  5. Be aware that you are not the best gauge of how impaired you are cognitively. You might be overriding fatigue, burn-out, distraction, and the inability to finish projects.  Don’t accept chronic stress as a norm. You don’t always have to run and juggle at the same time. Put one foot in front of the other in your life’s journey.
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photo by: ryantron.