Here’s how to resist distraction and be less reactive:
- Control your context: You can’t react to what’s not there.
- Stay calm: Stress makes you dumb. Stress and reacting leads to dumb behavior.
- Think about your goals: Get Stoicism, mindfulness and dopamine on your side.
- Make a deliberate decision: When you do, your brain is better able to resist no-no’s.
You don’t have to react and answer that text immediately. You don’t have to react to that delicious smell and eat all the cookies. You can pause, stay calm, think about your goals and decide to do the right thing.
We’re all so afraid of being bored that we run to any distraction that presents itself.
But when we truly engage with the world and focus on our goals, we’re never bored. And as David Foster Wallace said, “If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.”
Your Reactive Brain*
- Your brain does not want to waste energy, so it is always abit lazy
- So in our free time, we don’t do what we enjoy but what is easy
Everything is demanding our attention. We’d like to make a plan and follow through or accomplish goals undistracted but the world seems to be (is) working against you.
Your lazy brain is happy to just react to that relentless bombardment of stimuli coming its way. But when you just react, you don’t usually make the best choices. And while you’re definitely doing something, you’re rarely achieving your goals.
- When you are reacting, you are not in control of your life. Your environment is. It seems like we are saying to the world “please tell me what to do!”
- Technology has only made it worse
If a person gave away your body to some passerby, you’d be furious. Yet, you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along, so they may abuse you, leaving it disturbed and troubled — have you no shame in that?
Control Your Context
- *Overeating: It’s rarely due to hunger and more due to context. We eat more if the food is nearer to us
- So if you need to get work done, make distractions harder to reach
When you have fewer things to react to or you make it harder to react to them, you’ll be less reactive.
- Staying calm is important in making good decisions in the heat of the moment. All the emotion is not going to help
- Stress takes the rational part of your brain (prefrontal cortex) offline
Think About Your Goals
Where is this action leading? Do I want to go there? …This thought which has arisen, is it helpful? Is it serving me or others in some way or is it not? Is it just playing out perhaps old conditions of fear or judgment or things that are not very helpful for ourselves or others?
Thinking about your long-term goals when you’re tempted by distraction gives your brain a sense of control and can release dopamine which will make you feel better and more motivated.
Make A Deliberate Decision
- Taking the time to pause and make a decision can stop you from engaging in bad behaviour
Instead of getting overwhelmed, ask yourself, “What’s one little thing that I could do now that would move me toward this goal I’m trying to accomplish?” Taking one small step toward it can make it start to feel more manageable.
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