It’s late at night.
The room is dark, and you feel achingly lonely.
As you lie there contemplating existence and wondering how life can feel so hollow sometimes, you suddenly hear the sweetest whisper next to you say, “Just touch me. Please touch me. I’m dying to feel your soft caress.”
AND THAT’S HOW BABIES ARE MADE, KIDS.
Just kidding. They come from storks. After a week long drug-binge at their nudist colony.
Whoa. just kidding again.
*Get it together, Callye. You’re sounding like a crazy person.*
Your phone. Your phone is what I’m talking about. That is the naughty temptress beckoning for your sweet touch. I guess I could have been more direct rather than leading with awkward email erotica, but what’s the fun in that?
The other night, as I was lying in bed, avoiding sleep … as one does… I was very much hearing the sweet whispers of my phone. It does such a good job reminding me of all the ways I can distract myself.
I didn’t need to be asked twice, so I very quickly grabbed it in order to use my go-to app (imgur, for those who are curious). The point of apps like this is for enjoyment. Mostly mindless enjoyment, but enjoyment no less.
Yet instead of paying attention to the content (much less enjoying it), I found myself restlessly swiping to the next post.
I scrolled down to the comments on one post in particular, and I saw someone link a youtube clip of a comedian I really like. It was a 3 minute clip -- a clip I knew I would find hilarious, a clip that was already linked and only required one tap of my finger to play -- yet my brain was like, “Three whole minutes? Nahhhhh, you don’t have time for that. Keep swiping to see what’s next.”
YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT, brain? Oh, you mean it’s 1:45 in the morning and NOW ALL THE SUDDEN you’re worried about time allocation? Ha. Good one...
And it was in that moment that I thought, “Wow. I don’t even want to be entertained. I just want to be distracted.” The whole premise for me using the app instead of sleeping was that it would provide some sort of pleasure. Yet when I’m given the opportunity to have a guaranteed pleasurable experience (ie: watching the video clip), I’m too disinterested and impatient to indulge it.
I’m so locked into the habit of seeking that I don’t allow myself the pleasure of enjoyment.
I consider myself a pretty mindful person, yet I can so easily fall into the trap of wasting my time and energy through a series of meaningless distractions. And distractions I will aggressively seek out, at that.
So what’s a gal/guy/stork to do with this awareness? This new found knowledge that distractions have become your adult pacifier?
Practice mindfulness. That’s what.
Yes, you’d like to eventually get to the place of not indulging the distractions as much, but before that, you’ll have to start paying attention. On purpose.
Start asking yourself what motivation is behind your behavior.
As you mindlessly reach for your phone… Pause. Notice. Ask “why?” As you desperately search for the remote to hit “Continue Watching” on Netflix after 4 solid hours of binging on a TV series… Pause. Notice. Ask “why?”
Sometimes your answer might be, “It’s bringing me lots of enjoyment.”
Cool. Then go for it.
And sometimes your answer might be
“I’m in lots of emotional pain right now and can’t handle it.”
“I have a task I’m putting off.”
“I’m not sure what makes me happy, so I don’t even know what else to do in this moment.”
Or, my personal favorite, “I’m wandering aimlessly through life, just buying time until the day it ultimately ends. Oh no… despair is creeping in! Abort mission! Soothe anxiety! Find a distraction!”
Or, ya know, whatever your own answers happen to be.
You might still decide to distract yourself. Cool. Go for it. At least you made the first step by being aware of your actions.
And puh-lease, for goodness sake, don’t go on a personal guilt trip if you end up distracting yourself or forgetting to pause and question your motives. Guilt is dumb. It’s probably only useful 1% of the time, which means 99% of the time it’s not serving you and your energy is better spent elsewhere.
If you happen to curb the temptation to distract yourself though? Awesome! That means you paused. Noticed what you were doing. Figured out what thoughts or emotions you were avoiding, and redirected your energy to something more useful, engaging, or pleasant.
Let me be clear that I don’t think distracting oneself is bad. In fact, it can be a healthy way to cope with things at times. So it’s not like I’m proposing a life of constant awareness, focus, and productivity. It’s only when you start to see your tendency towards distraction as being a negative force in your life that you might want to consider challenging it.
So there you have it. Cell phones and storks are where babies come from.
Wait. That wasn’t the point of all this.
So as a wrap up, I’ll just say that I cannot wait to eat some delicious food for Thanksgiving! That was totally unrelated, I know. I’ll blame it on my cell phone though for giving me ADD.
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