Perhaps it’s just a sign of the techno-driven, get-everything-now times we live in, but the fact is that more and more of us are guilty of “distracted living,” and we don’t even know it. Worse, we don’t understand the profound negative impact our distracted lifestyle has on the quality of our lives.
It’s so easy to get lost in the “must dos” of the day. Must get the laundry done. Must take Spunky to the vet. Must pick up the groceries. Must meet with our daughter’s teacher. Must remember to buy batteries. Must get back with the tax guy on that thing he wanted. Must deal with those moles that are taking out the back yard again. On and on it goes. Busy rules the day. The problem is that busy sometimes ends up ruling your life and that my friend, is a big problem.
The Similarities Between Distracted Driving and Distracted Living
If I mention the concept of “distracted driving” to you, your mind quickly visualizes the dangers involved. When you’re behind the wheel, and you let anything distract you – from phone calls and texts to setting your Spotify to your favorite playlist – the consequences can be anywhere from a minor fender bender to a major accident involving bodily injury or sadly even loss of life. Distracted driving is dangerous, so you just don’t do it. Period.
Whether you realize it or not, distracted living comes with its own set of consequences, not the least of which is allowing your whole life to pass you by without ever discovering what you were here to experience or what you were here to contribute.
What Is Distracted Living?
Anytime you’re not living your life with clear intention, you’re in a state of distracted living. Every time you are not paying attention to what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you get off course. For the texting driver, an accident will likely ensue. For the distracted human being, a life unfolds that scarcely resembles the life we intended to live.
Instead of Staying Trapped in Distracted Living, Start Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the key to living a life of intention and purpose. Mindfulness is simply training your mind to pay attention to what’s actually going on rather than staying stuck in your distracted thinking. Mindfulness changes everything. If you’re open to it, mindfulness will work miracles in your life.
Mindfulness means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It is cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention, intentionally, in the present moment, and then sustaining that attention over time as best we can. In the process, we become more in touch with our life as it is unfolding. – Jon Kabat-Zinn, noted expert in the field of Mindfulness and Meditation
Keep the Big Picture of What You Want in Your Life Clear in Your Head at All Times
I didn’t say it was easy, because that laundry still needs washing, and you’ll still need to buy groceries, and sweet little Spunky still needs to see the vet.
The difference in mindful, intentional living versus distracted living is that you perform all the seemingly mundane tasks in full appreciation and awareness of what you want for the big picture in your life. Instead of getting lost in your to-do list, you gain a greater sense of fulfillment in and around the simple tasks of your life. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the pile of to-dos on your plate, you stay in appreciation for the gifts that these to-dos represent in your life.
You honor each moment and remain present to the blessings it brings. You become thrilled that you not only have clothes, but you also have the ability to keep them clean. You’re thankful that you have ready access to groceries and the means with which to purchase them. And, you’re so grateful for the sheer joy that little Spunky brings to your life.
If you remain in distracted living mode, the burdens of the day will overwhelm you and send your spirit in a downward spiral. Day after day of this will take its toll. It will rob you of the joy and fulfillment that you deserve to experience in your life.
Remember, the cure for distracted living is to get off autopilot and pay attention. Stay mindful of where you are in each moment. Be deliberate about what you intend to create and experience in your life. This won’t happen by accident; it requires regular reflection and review on your part, but it’s worth the effort.
Need Some Help to Break Your Distraction Habit?
If you need a little help, as many of us do, there are a number of great teachers on mindfulness that will guide you along your journey.
Tom Cronin is hosting a new free program through MindValley called Mindfulness: Accessing the Stillness Within
I also highly recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work, Mindfulness for Beginners as well as Adventures in Mindfulness. In addition, Joseph Goldman has a great program on Mindfulness. Finally, Eckart Tolle offers some incredible work on the subject. I highly recommend his program, Realizing the Power of Now.
We’ve also written a few more articles related to this subject, so be sure to check these out: 5 Ways to Get Calm Fast When Your Chattering Mind Won’t Shut Up and Why Overthinking Could Ruin Your Life.