Ever notice how ones “personal bubble” becomes smaller the more tech acceptant he or she becomes? We are a society wrapped up in our own personal activities. Consider the number of things accomplished each day, and all of the personal bubbles that briefly intersect. Because of technology, it is possible to fit so many things into each personal 24-hour bubble. Instead of using these extra timesaving to savor what one has or to build deeper relationships with others, societalorms push people to fill each day with more things to do.
It seems society has become so self-absorbed, that there is little time left to enter into anyone else's life bubble. Most of the people we interact with daily are people who bubble happens to intersect with our own. Pay attention the next time you are out with a group or in public, notice that few, if any people are “visiting” or actually interacting w / each other. People are constantly scanning their phones or electronic devices. So full-attention, which used to be shared with a real person in your presence, is now diluted if exist at all.
The rub is, it happens so subtly, many may not notice how personally disconnected they are to real people. Consider which feels more comfortable, to text or email someone, or call or visit them? That is not to say technology is bad, it makes life easier and when used in sensibly, is practical to have around. A smart phone is handy when someone needs to look something up, get in touch with someone while away from home, or while alone and waiting. However, more and more people are compulsively scanning them ALL the time and in the presence of “live” people who are worthy of ones full attention.
This is creating a generation of fragmented thinkers who find it hard to engage in only one thing at a time. As such, it becomes important to become aware of these minority habits. They slowly begin to blur the line between what is a useful tool and what can be lead to fragmented personal interaction. The urge to be constantly distracted or entertained is actually conditioning the brain to need it. That means each time someone chooses to check their phone while doing another activity or while interacting with a live person, they are actually feeding the reward center in the brain that makes a person desire an activity.
Psychologists call this a “soft addiction.” Soft, because while it is not unhealthy activity, it is being used in a way that can become harmful to ones health or sense of wellbeing. Just as the brain can become conditioned to desire and seek out fragmented thinking, it can be conditioned to become focused and more directed. This is known because of the research done on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive, being the mental process and behavior, being how people act, through instruction and practice or “therapy,” people can train their mental process to direct their behavior. CBT teachers people to become aware of their thought processes and how they affect behavior.
Once aware of thoughts, they can be directed versus accepted. While someone may not have a choice what thought pops into his or her head, there is always the choice about, on what the mind will buy or “meditate.” Meditate, is not a mystical practice, it simply means to focus ones thoughts onto something. Most people do this daily without even realizing that is what is occurring. When someone worries, he or she is meditating on a possible negative exit. When someone daydreams, he or she is meditating on a desirable outlet. When someone gets lost in thoughts of “what used to be,” he or she is meditating on the past. This shows just how easy meditating can be.
People use old familiar patterns to meditate unconsciously. Awareness, allows a person to direct their thoughts consciously to something that will benefit their wellbeing. Being fully present in the moment, or mindfulness, is a habit that can be purposefully cultivated. It means to focus your full attention to the person or activity at hand and not allowing yourself to indulge in distractions, such as a wandering mind or scanning your phone. Practicing mindfulness leads to refined thinking and allows someone to better deal with life stressors.
Time, attention, and relationships are vital components of good health. To enrich life, be mindful of how you spend your time and attention. Widen your personal bubble, and leave more time for intersecting with those you enjoy, not just those traveling in the same circles. Promote focus and begin to discipline behaviors that fragment your thinking. Psychological disorders such as ADD, depression, and bipolar disorder can be triggered and heightened by certain behaviors. For someone predisposed to these conditions, certain lifestyle choices can make managing them more difficult. Anything that takes away from mindfulness or encouragements fragmented thinking can enhance the symptoms of these psychological issues.
Choices made in chaotic thought, often do not promote healthy living. Things like eating well, getting enough rest, and purposefully exercising come from directed thought. When you are not doing what you know would benefit you, it is often a thought problem. Thought change starts with a desire and is developed through repeated practice. Here are five steps to help improve your thought life:
1. Awareness- catch yourself not being in the moment
2. Evaluate-discover what behaviors are affecting your thoughts
3. Planning- develop a plan to purposefully redirect your focus
4. Intervention- implement your plan to refocus your thinking & limit distraction
5. Practice- repeat moment to moment, day by day