Friday, February 15, 2013

Mindless Distractions

{Photo published on web here}
In our culture today, there are many distractions available to us.  We seek out these distractions and make them a part of our daily life.

Why is it that we want to distract our minds?

I believe it is because we are afraid of reality.

Because we are afraid to face who we really are on a regular basis, we distract ourselves with mindless occupations.  Television, video games, iPods, iPads, movies, music, and even books, bring us out of the moment and into another world.

T.S. Elliot said, “Humankind cannot take too much reality.”

I think it is ingrained in our human nature to not be present in reality every second of every day.  We know we have to distract our minds somehow in order to stay sane.  “Mindless” distractions are part of a healthy lifestyle, in my opinion.  In our culture today, however, we have a unique dilemma in which we have many options to choose from to distract our minds.  There are many “mindless” distractions that can be harmful to our well-being.  And, unfortunately, many people seek to distract themselves from reality in a negative, or non-productive, way.

There is a good side and a bad side to this human quirk.  Let’s start with the good so we can end with the bad and be more dramatic.

First of all, memories are a legitimate reason to not be present in the moment.  Memories are a special gift from God.  Our fond memories can ease the sadness of a lost loved one.  Memories can make us laugh when we are reminiscing with a brother or sister.  They can allow us to learn from our mistakes.  And they can enable us to learn from other people’s mistakes, as well.

Second, we can be taken away from the moment via art…art that is good, true, and beautiful, to be specific.  Whether it’s a musical masterpiece from an orchestra or a timeless mural in a cathedral, fine art can take us out of ourselves and lead us to something transcendental of our being.  Often times, this experience can bring us to an ever closer reflection on eternity.  Since it is our ultimate goal to reach a Heavenly eternity, it is good to allow art to touch our soul.

The third and final reason I will list as a “good” way to not be present in reality, is knowledge.  Learning allows us to actualize our potential as human persons.  Learning transforms the person and fulfills them in a way that no other living creature on this earth can be fulfilled.  In order to learn, you must, in a certain sense, rise above the “now” to reach a new level of knowledge.  If you stubbornly stay where you are, intellectually speaking, it will be difficult for you to grow.  And it will be difficult for you to stay satisfied and happy.  In order to learn something new, you must take a leap and leave the firm, understandable ground your feet are planted on.

These three reasons above are just a few examples of how living out of the moment is nourishing for your body, mind, soul, and heart.

Now for the negative side…I think if you just took a moment and thought about your distraction choices, you would be able to decide if it was harmful or helpful to your well being.  Every person is going to have different answers.

Being honest with myself, I know that women's magazines, Facebook, TV, and Tetris are harmful to my overall well-being.  No one else makes me do these things, I choose them for myself.  I know from experience that the results of these activities do not make me a better person.

Remembering that there are other, more beneficial, ways to distract myself will help me make a better choice when I am faced with the decision to “self-distract”.  Sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help myself.

Since I struggle with depression, there are times that I really need to shut down my over active brain and do something light, or “mindless”.  Because, if I think too much, bad things will happen.

Some of my uplifting “mindless” occupations are: knitting, doing the dishes, reading a spiritual book, organizing a closet or room, or meditating.  Not that any of those things are completely “mindless” whatsoever.  Those things just require less commitment and less brain power than, let’s say, creating the budget, or painting a picture.  You get the point.

What are some of your “mindless” distractions?  Can you decipher the harmful vs. the helpful?  Let me know what you found out!

No comments:

Post a Comment