I’m simultaneously watching the Vikings game, a series on Netflix, and reading, as well as keeping an eye on my smartphone for game and social media alerts. Read: I live a distracted life.
Over the last few months I’ve been pondering my attention to and presence in my day-to-day living. More often than not, I find myself trying to manage too much at once. Not necessarily multi-tasking but more multi-focused. Guess what? It doesn’t work so well.
Last night I was sharing with (possibly lecturing) Oldest Son on recent personal decisions. I questioned whether some of his choices were really driven by his personal character makeup or if they had simply become habits. I was really pleased with my momentary parental wisdom until I realized this morning that I need to ask myself the very same question.
So much of what I do is because I’ve gotten into the habit of doing so. Drinking water and exercising routinely are two I feel pretty good about. Living a distracted life by habitually giving limited attention to a number of things at once is not so great.
Over the past 2 months (minus today obviously), I have been forcing myself to try more often to pay attention to the issue of the moment without letting anything else in. It’s been surprisingly difficult. For example, I am a life-long reader. I enjoy everything about books and can’t get enough of them. However, I no longer just read. I read while monitoring my phone and checking one thing leads to another and another until I’ve lost an evening wondering what I even looked at and why. I am most surprised to discover I now have difficulty reading without constant interruption.
Right now I can’t tell you the score of the game, the next suspect in my Netflix drama, or the key moment in my book without “rewinding.” Not a very smart way to go through life.
I’m only making one New Year’s Resolution for 2018 and I am going to start now. I intend to live a focused life attending fully to whatever requires my attention that moment/hour/day. I will hear people when they speak to me and I will respond appropriately (even if that is respectful silence) because I will know what they said and be able to read the emotion on their face.
I suspect I may even lose my coffee cup and phone less frequently simply by paying attention. Cheers to 2018 and getting in better touch with the things and people that matter in life!
“Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step and the road will stretch out smooth before you.” Proverbs 4:25-26 (MSG)