It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in late summer, and you were at your parent's home, back in the garden. You looked around and smiled. You really miss the place. The trees, the green grass, the view to the valleys, the swing just a couple of meters away. You turned your head back to the table and saw your whole family was there. You haven't seen them for a year now. The conversation you'd hope to last a while only lasted an hour before everybody was busy on their cellphone. Well, except your old parents who by then already disappear inside the house. Maybe taking a nap. You let go a little sigh. Then the silent went on.
We all get distracted. The question is, would you bounce back or bounce backwards?
That scene, my friend, was my Harajuku Moment (Chad Fowler created this term as he decided he will act to better his health). I was holidaying in Indonesia at that time. When I was with my family, I realized that everybody (except my old parents), was having a cellphone. That also includes my two-year-old nephew and grandniece. There was no conversation after all the excitements of seeing each other again ran off. Why are they so addicted to distraction? Their cellphones?
ADDICTED TO DISTRACTION
The first thing I felt? I was revolted. How did we all get to this point? I was scared and started to feel unreasonably sad. Is this how it’s gonna be every time? No more quality time, no more rich talks, no fulfilled feeling? Is this how I will remember my family reunion? Tons of photos but shallow memory? Plenty to say to these unreasonable people. I needed to let them know that this is disrespectful. As I was becoming a bit angry, something hit me. I wasn’t any better.
I was one of them…
I was always in denial that I used my cellphone excessively. After all, more than half of the population are using it. It has become a new norm. Everybody I know owns a cellphone. Most of these people are on social media. Heck, even my little nephew has his own Instagram account. I remember my nieces used to have an iPad before I knew what the iPad was. To finally have my own Ipad was an exciting moment! It was in 2012 and my sister gave me an Ipad for my birthday. I was excited and told myself I was gonna make that thing useful. It ended up being a toy. Yes, a toy. Useless freaking hours playing that stupid Candy Crush. Fell in love with Pinterest the first time and kept pinning… and pinning… and pinning until three in the morning. If I wasn’t on my iPad, I would be on my cellphone or my computer. I was always… connected.
Distraction and excuses will always be there. Opportunities won’t.
THE SADDEST PART OF A BEING DISTRACTED
After a while, that new norm, the habit to always connect, started taken a toll in my relationship. However, as I said, I was in denial then. It wasn’t that I ignored him when we were together. But the constant checking did enough job to spark the disagreement!
The first time he pointed out, his words were like winds to me. I might have said ‘Nah’, or ‘You were right’, I couldn’t remember anymore. But he kept pointing, and there was the time he gave up. But obviously, it bothered him so much. It didn’t take him long to point out how seriously addicted I was to distraction, how I was on my phone all the time.
Up until that Indonesian holiday, my responses were varied. I told him it was only in his mind, and he was exaggerating. There was a time when I simply said that he should just respect it. (Come to think of it, appreciate what? Bad habit?).
One way to boost our will power and focus is to manage our distractions instead of letting them manage us. -Daniel Goleman
TIME TO WIN THE WAR
INTRODUCING: MY THREE STAGES OF REVERSE HABIT
I created the term of my own, which act as an affirmation for me. To change a habit is not easy, but it’s doable. It just has to start somewhere. So these were the stages I went through and the metrics I used. You are welcome to copy these methods for your own battle.
Question: But why should you stop when everybody is doing it? It’s normal in the modern world to always be connected.
Answer: Because this behaviour isn’t making any positive impact, at least in my relationship.
Question: But what happens if you disconnect and something terrible happens to your family so far away?
Answer: If something really horrible happens, they will call, not text. There is no need to keep checking messages that aren’t there.
Question: But you live in a fast-paced world. How if you miss any crucial information?
Answer: Seriously, you are not some hotshot CEO in Silicon Valey. You are one of the masses. Any information that you are missing today will still be there tomorrow. If it’s even relevant to your life.
Back then, I had a lot of questions. The purpose of that exercise was to “force” my logic to work. I tried to break the reasoning behind the pattern, which mostly deductive ones.
Our habit is something that has been formed for quite some time, and our brain recognizes its formula.
After I felt confident that I could alter all the deductive logic to be more aligned with my reality, I moved on to the second stage.
METICULOUS JOURNAL OF BEHAVIOR
- I couldn’t wait in line without getting my cellphone out.
- If I had a book with me on the train during commuting, I would still use my phone at the end.
- The notification was on. When there was nothing on the screen, I opened each and every chatting app.
- Checking email too frequently.
- At night, I would scroll and scroll on Pinterest (one of my most favorite app) for hours.
- My cellphone always comes to the toilet with me (oh come on, who doesn’t?), ended up spending a longer time than I had to.
- FOMO (the fear of missing out), so I was very active on Instagram.
- Opening Facebook regularly became an excuse to check on family members.
- If Candy Crush would give me money for every minute I spent on it, I would be a millionaire by now.
- I felt uneasy and guilty consciously and subconsciously because I knew deep down that I was wasting my time.
- Unable to prioritize and keep my schedules.
- My mind jumped quickly from one thing to another when I worked.
- Regular headaches and neck pain.
- Becoming defensive and very reactive
- Horrible mood swings, I was not on my normal PMS.
- False alarm of anxiety attacks from getting agitated too easily.
- Procrastinate a lot, so nothing gets done. The house was always a mess. It was chaos.
- The focus was a stranger. I hit my head, hit my toe, can’t remember some lines that I read. I felt that something was wrong with my head.
- Trouble sleeping, and it really decreases my productivity in all areas of my life.
- I started comparing myself to other people on Instagram.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FLAWS
Are you addicted to modern distraction?