We live in a world of distractions. All day, every day we are bombarded with opportunities to be distracted. And, as I’ve recently noticed about myself, many of us choose (whether we’re conscious of it or not) to distract ourselves on purpose and to escape from life in various ways.
Given that most of us are going to be distracted on a regular basis, consciously or unconsciously, it’s important that we take a deeper look at how and why we get distracted and do what we can do to start distracting ourselves in healthy ways and for healthy reasons.
Due to the fact that life can get quite intense and stressful, and many of us have come up with creative ways of avoiding certain feelings, situations, and activities that are challenging for us (i.e. things we’re scared of or uncomfortable with), we tend to distract ourselves in various unhealthy ways.
Whether our personal version of distraction involves food, TV, alcohol, a “smart” phone, drugs, drama, confusion, over-scheduling, taking care of everyone around us, or anything else – we often engage in unhealthy habits (like these and others) and do so for unhealthy reasons (because we don’t want to stop, feel, and deal with the intensity of our lives).
Healthy distraction, for unhealthy reasons
Once we become aware of our unhealthy patterns of distracting ourselves (as mentioned above), we can start to replace some of these negative behaviors with more positive ones. I like to call this “productive procrastination.” Some examples:
- We re-organize our desk instead of making those scary phone calls
- We clean up the house instead of working on the creative project that we’ve been thinking about
- Instead of rushing to the refrigerator when we get stressed out, we head out to the gym or on a bike ride to relieve some stress
- We curl up with an inspiring book or watch a touching film that makes us feel better
These and other things can “distract” us in more positive ways and have less of a negative impact on us in the long run. However, if we engage in these “healthy” activities simply as a way to avoid dealing with our lives, feeling certain uncomfortable emotions, or engaging in what’s going on around us in an authentic way, there is still another level for us to reach.
Conscious, healthy distraction
The ultimate goal of this process is for us to be able to choose to “distract” ourselves (i.e. get out of our heads, let go of our negative worries, and take a conscious break from the day-to-day stress of life) in a truly healthy way. When our motivation is positive (i.e. we’re not avoiding anything, but choosing consciously to take a break), the outcome and experience of our “distraction” is more likely to be healthy and beneficial.
If we’re going to live a life of growth, meaning, and fulfillment – we need lots of healthy breaks and rests along the way, especially when things get hard. If we don’t take these breaks, it’s easy to let worry, fear, negativity, doubt, and the daily pressures of life take over, almost without us even noticing.
Here’s a long list of some simple things you can do to “distract” yourself in a healthy way.
- Watch inspiring movies
- Walk in nature
- Play with children
- Read inspiring books
- Help others
- Spend time with people you love
- Take classes or workshops
- Listen to inspiring music
- Sit and do nothing
This list could go on and on. Take a moment to reflect on these and other things that you can do that will have a positive impact on your life right now.
It’s not so much what you do, but why and how you do it. When we take some time to consciously “distract” ourselves in healthy ways, we interrupt the negative, unconscious, and habitual patterns of our minds and our culture that often get in the way of us experiencing the peace, joy, and abundance that is naturally and authentically around us and within us all the time.