You don’t have to be an expert to see that life in the 21st century is no easy thing to navigate. It’s especially difficult when you’re constantly bombarded by advertisements, notifications, billboards and commercials. Every day when you wake up and go out into the world, someone is trying to catch your attention. And your attention is the most valuable thing you have. Your attention directs your actions and habits. Your actions and habits make you who you are.
I know it sounds crazy; “Why would someone try to ‘steal’ my attention? What does that even mean?”
Regardless of what you believe about humans, we are terrible multi-taskers. You can really only pay attention to one thing at a time. Advertisements are created to push to the front of your attention. Social media is engineered to be addictive. Your attention is what advertisers pay for. They want to get their ads in front of your eyeballs. Ads on your news feed are catered to you based on your likes and browsing habits. With only 300 likes on Facebook, the algorithms know you better than your own spouse. If you like 10 things a day on Facebook for a month, Facebook probably knows you better than you know yourself.
Attention is currency. The things in your life are only as valuable as the amount of attention you pay to them. You spend your time and money on the things you think about the most. Social Media is engineered to form behavioral addictions with a ruthless amount of efficiency. Advertisers spend a lot of money making sure they get as much of your attention as possible and your behavioral addictions ensure that you keep coming back for more. They exploit your natural weaknesses and tendencies to get you to buy things you don’t need.
So how do you stop this?
One solution is mindfulness.
According to merriam-webster mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”
What exactly does that mean?
When you practice mindfulness, you are widening the gap between stimulus and response. If you can live in that gap, you can truly be in control. If there is no gap between stimulus and response, this means that you aren’t actually making any decisions. You are simply reacting to things that happen to you. When your behavior is reactive, your brain will fall back on your habits and your behavioral addictions.
Your mind is like a muscle. When you practice mindfulness, you are exercising that muscle. This gives you the ability to be more mindful in your day to day interactions, to be non-reactionary and to be rational with your decisions. It widens the gap and it allows you to take better control of your life.
My recommendations to you are as follows:
- Meditate every day (Even just one minute counts)
- Read Dan Harris’ books
- Learn about habits. (That isn’t just a word that means you are prone to do something often.)
- Listen to Joe Rogan and Jocko Willink
Forget everything you think you know. If you think the lens that you view life through is the only lens, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re wrong. There is always a way to make things better, no matter your situation.
Find your way.
As humbly as they come,