If you want to be entertained, all you have to do is make a decision. You open an app or game on your phone, or you turn on the TV, or you go to Netflix or Hulu or YouTube. There are any number of websites designed solely to kill time and keep a constant stream of different pieces of information coming at you. As soon as you get tired of something, you can immediately replace it with something new.
This isn’t good for us. I have noticed in my own life that my attention span has been getting worse as time goes on. When I was young, I could spend an entire day reading a book and be perfectly happy. These days, I find it challenging to read the same book for more than half an hour or so. I have this constant need to be extra stimulated. I’ll often have a TV show or movie playing, and be doing something else on my phone.
As I constantly work to improve myself, it’s becoming clear that this is something I need to start working on. The most obvious way that I can think to improve my ability to focus is by focusing more.
Mindfulness is a concept that has been around for a long time. You might have heard of mindfulness meditation. This is one of the simplest places to start, and it’s something that I’ve been practicing occasionally for a few years now. It involves sitting (or laying, or standing, or walking) silently and observing yourself. Observing your body, your thoughts, your feelings. Anything that comes up. Observing, and letting go.
It’s helpful sometimes to have a single focal point, something to keep coming back to. The most common one is your breath. Focus on your breathing. Whenever a thought comes up, you acknowledge it and then let it go as you come back to the breath.
I’ve found it very helpful in the past. Even now, when I’m in a situation where I notice I’m getting frustrated or overwhelmed I will focus on my breathing and try to let everything else go. But, admittedly, it’s not as effective for me as it could be. Because I don’t practice.
The more time you spend practicing mindfulness, the better you get at it. When I was able to practice on a regular basis, I noticed that I was a calmer person overall. Slower to anger. Less likely to be overtaken by a strong emotion. It’s something I want to get back to.
In order to find any peace or happiness, you have to accept things as they are.
Let me give you an example. There are situations in my life right now that are hard for me to accept. I spend time and energy worrying about them, and wishing that things were different. But worrying and wishing don’t do anything helpful. And I make my life much more difficult by struggling against things that I can’t change.
When I’m mindful, I can take a moment to experience my feelings and thoughts fully. I feel my anxiety, and my frustration. I observe the thoughts I’m having, and remind myself that they’re just thoughts. That I don’t have to let the negative emotions or stressful thoughts take over. They’re not me. Once I see them as passing experiences and not my identity, I can let them go and come back to neutral.
What we can do
Going forward, I’m going to make time in each day to be mindful. Whether it’s meditation, or just turning off all my media and allowing myself to be quietly present in whatever task I’m involved with. Reading, writing, working on my motorcycle, or doing household chores. Anything you do on a daily basis can be done mindfully. It’ll allow you to calm down, and accept your situation as it is. And with that will come peace.
Thank you all for reading. If you have anything to add, or experiences to share, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
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