An attraction called distraction!

Your real competition is your distraction– Anonymous

 

If you are reading this, amidst your deep immersive work, you shouldn’t be. This would seem weird coming from the guy who sent you this in the first place.

 

The achilles heel of our times: Staying focused and distracted by a lot of ideas.

 

We are living through a crisis of distraction. Plans get sidetracked, friends are ignored, work never seems to get done. Why does it feel like we’re distracting our lives away?

 

Donuts taste great when we are eating them. But we feel like shit some time after. We get a bit of short-term pleasure and long-term pain.

 

The two primary motivators of changing our behavior are:

 

Avoiding pain &

 

Experiencing pleasure

 

All the attention management strategies in the world will not work unless we feel the pain and the opportunity cost of distractions.

 

If anything, the world is becoming a more distracting place. Technology is becoming more pervasive and persuasive.

 

We all suffer from the shiny object syndrome. The thrill of the chase. And the after glow.

 

Our biggest obstacle is fighting our addiction with social media and the mobile phone.

 

Wasting time online, ironically consuming content about how to be a more prolific, successful creator.

 

Digital distractions create somewhat of a paradox. We get to avoid the pain of focusing on something that matters to us. And the dopamine hits we get from checking our emails or scrolling through our Instagram | Facebook feeds. That gives us a lot of pleasure.

 

But that little boost of pleasure becomes painful when we realise that we’ve wasted time on something that prevents us from accomplishing our real goals.

 

It’s hard to change anything until our motivation is strong enough. Before we can deal with our addictions to distraction, it is important to uncover our motivations.

 

A donut called distraction.

 

ENDS

Power of Darkness: Switch Off to Switch On!

Please forgive the almost oxymoronic nature of the blog’s caption. We all think that no power leads to darkness, isn’t it?

 

The world owes a lot to Benjamin Franklin, the scientist who invented electricity. It’s human to want light and warmth. God’s first recorded words, according to the Hebrew Bible, were: “Let there be light.”

 

The night has a dark side; literally and metaphorically: ghosts, scary monsters, robbers, the unknown. Electricity’s triumph over the night keeps us safer as well as busier.

 

But whatever extends the day loses us the dark. Our always on, 24-7 culture has phased out the night, so much so that we treat the night like failed daylight.

 

Night and dark are good for us. As the nights lengthen, it’s time to reopen the dreaming space. Have you ever spent an evening without electric light? You would have noticed that when the lights are on, we are all in conformity mode. Saluting the default template, playing it safe, keeping up with the Joneses, effectively talking about our outer lives. Living the expected.

 

It’s different when we are sitting around a fire or candlelight which is when we begin to articulate our feelings. Our inner lives. We speak subjectively, argue less, there are longer pauses. Noticed? Or you could not see it in the dark?

 

To sit in isolation in darkness is curiously creative. We have our brainwaves , best ideas and Eureka moments in the dead of the night and the moment the light comes on we are thinking projects, deadlines, groceries, bills…

 

The famous “sleep on it” when we have a dilemma we can’t solve is an indication of how important dream time | darkness is to human wellbeing.

 

Food, fire, walks, talks, dreams, cold, sleep, love, slowness, time, quiet, books, seasons – all these things, which are not really things, but moments of life – take on a different quality at night-time. Creativity, like human life itself — begins in darkness.

 

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
— Mary Oliver

 

Switch off to Switch on!

 

ENDS

Doing by Undoing

What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?..echoed W H Davies in his seminal classic poem ‘ Leisure ‘. And he ends by stating,  A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.

The biggest lie we’ve been told is that ‘ productivity is all about doing ‘.

Working is Not Productivity. The message once(and even now) was loud and clear. Relentless self-optimisation was a way to cope, but is it really? Humans are NOT search engines !

There has been always something obscene about the cult of the hustle, the treadmill of alienated insecurity that tells you that the moment you stop running for even an instant, you will be flung flat on your face.

Productivity is not a synonym for health or safety or sanity. I will go onto add that frantic productivity is actually a fear response. It’s a fear response for 21st-century humans in general and millennial humans in particular.

Productivity, or the lack of it, has become the individual metric of choice for coping with the international econo-pathological clusterfuck of the Corona Crisis.

Have you taken the path not trodden, step into a void and, by design decide NOT to do anything? And then witness something strange happening? Ideas begin to flow, collide, offering solutions, relief, succour, insights, inspiration, closure..

Our best work will come from undoing—from slowing down and giving ourself time and space. The Japanese call this vacuum ma—an empty space that’s intentionally there. In Hebrew, the same concept is called selah. The word appears 74 times in the Hebrew Bible as a direction to stop reading, pause, and contemplate what just appeared in the text.

There is no preamble or drum roll when ideas arrive. There is no parade. If it’s big, it is not going to wield a megaphone and yell from the rooftop. At first glance, the big thing actually looks quite small. If there’s no void in your life—if your life is full of constant chatter—you won’t be able to hear the subtle whisper when it arrives.

Banish the FOMO that if you slow down, you will get left behind. What you would do is use less energy, you’ll go faster, and you’ll go deeper. The pedal-to-the metal mentality is the enemy of original thought. Creativity isn’t produced—it’s discovered. And it happens in moments of slack, not hard labor. Yes, counter to popular thinking, but true.

During those moments, it may appear like nothing is happening, but appearances mislead. Still waters run deep. As you stare out into the nothingness, your subconscious is hard at work, consolidating memories, making associations, and calibrating a new math while marrying the new with the old to create unexpected combinations.

So, don’t avoid the void.

Mute down the noise, just for a little bit, throughout the day. Give yourself permission to lounge in bed after waking up. Put yourself in airplane mode. Sit and stare at the ceiling. Wander aimlessly through a park.

Allow interior silence to oppose contemporary chaos.

Sink into the rhythm of no rhythm.

Step into the void—where all things that never existed are created.

Relentless self-optimisation is NOT a way to cope. Humans are NOT search engines !

Charles Richards on productivity: “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One person gets only a week’s value out of a year while another gets a full year’s value out of a week.”

You’ll find that taking your foot off the pedal can be the best way to accelerate.

Ends.