One of the biggest time wasters we have is the addiction to distraction. While being distracted is not always a bad thing, it is when we become addicted to the distraction as a means of avoiding our problems that it becomes a problem.
Do you find yourself mindlessly checking your social media streams throughout the day? Do you notice yourself snacking on food and not even recalling the flavor? Have you ever spent an entire day just staring at a TV and wonder where the time went? All of these are fine in moderation, but if you find yourself always in a hurry and in a constant battle for more time in your day then you may have a problem with distraction.
We seek solace in our addiction to social media, perfection, gossip, and shopping. Then there are the usual addictions to drugs, alcohol and excessive eating. Each of these addictions triggers the brain to release a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is the molecule behind all of our sinful behaviors and secret cravings. We thrive on the feeling that dopamine gives us. It just feels good, we get a high from it and we become momentarily happy from it. After a stressful day at the office, nothing feels better than a glass of wine or binge watch a favorite Netflix show while consuming a bag of chips. The dopamine numbs the mind from the build-up of cortisol (the stress hormone) that we had accumulated throughout the day.
Like all things in life, when we don’t achieve the right balance, we get ourselves into trouble with our addictions. When we allow our addiction to dopamine hits overcome our ability to dig down and solve our problems, then we become even more stressed out because the problem never really goes away, it just gets covered up. Then as our problems mount, we seek even more dopamine to numb the pain of the ever-gathering cortisol. This self-defeating cycle can put us in the cross-hairs of mental and physical illnesses.
In order to get back your time and make the time you spend in your life more meaningful; ask yourself if what you are doing right now consuming or creating a quality of your life. When you can label everything as one or the other, you will find over time that you will become more conscious of the things you do. Of course, if the addictions you have in your life are legitimately harmful to you or anyone else, it is always best to seek professional help. You need not fight alone! But for the lighter things in life, finding the balance between the distraction of consuming versus the production of creating is the key to bringing more meaning to your time.
ACTIVITY – Write down “You are seeking distraction!” on a piece of paper and place it near where you seek your distraction, somewhere where you know you will see it. If your cell phone is your distraction, place a small sticker on the screen to remind you of your distraction. Keep that reminder visible for the next week. Reflect every time you are becoming distracted at just how much you seek it and learn from it.
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Yves Doucet, CEO and Culture Coach Dovico
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