A thought for the weekend…

Sometimes I feel bombarded and overwhelmed with choices and what could sometimes be termed as distractions. I know just this week as my teenager was talking to me about her day, I was checking the emails on my phone. I heard her trail off and quickly I apologised for not listening. Interestingly her response was not said in a cruel or malicious way, but it was “It doesn’t matter, it wasn’t really that important.”…that was an “ouch” for me!

Photo credit: thepathbetweenthe stars.wordpress.com

Photo credit: thepathbetweenthe stars.wordpress.com

I watch my children and see them sometimes struggling with focusing as there is so much going on around them.  There are so many choices, opportunities and things to do! How does one choose which is the most important?

James Clear on his blog this week makes some observations about distractions in relationship to the author  R R Martin  and his way of writing on a very old word processing system…The point made is that this system has no advertising or unnecessary buttons!

“But maybe what we really need is less. Maybe what we really need are fewer distractions and more focus. Maybe what we really need are a few carefully chosen constraints that narrow our energy onto what really matters rather than compiling a bunch of resources that pull us away from what we actually need to do.”

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This weekend may we find time to notice the unnecessary.
This weekend may we be brave enough to say no to the unnecessary.
This weekend may we put some restraints in place so we can be available to the present!

Blessings for the weekend.

R x

The difficulties of focusing!

One of my boy’s is in the middle of telling me how difficult it is to be in charge of the lunch time cricket game and my phone beeps, letting me know a text has come in. Do I look or not? That is the question.

My daughter is telling me about her maths test when the phone tone rings. Do I look and answer? That is the question.

Another of my boys is dragging his feet getting ready for school as he had missed the early morning cuddle in bed and ‘please can I sit on your lap for awhile?’ But the clock is ticking, there are school times to be met and I haven’t checked my emails. Do I just check quickly? That is the question.

Arghhhh! What to do and I have only been out of bed for 1 hour!

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Photo Credit: mylifefitness.com

“Attentional skills are fundamentally under siege today. Never before in human history have there been so many seductive distractions in a person’s day, in a given hour, or in 10 minutes.” Daniel Goleman

It seems, that to focus on the person or task in front of us is getting harder and harder.  Research and science is finding that there is the need to actually make the effort  to ‘cultivate more strength to detach our attention from that thing that is so tempting over there and bring it back to the person in front of us.’

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Photo Credit: ascrewsloose.com

As time goes on and technology is becoming even more a part of our lives it seems that our connection with others is being damaged to some extent , threatened by the fact that ‘we’re together but we’re not together. We’re alone together.’

Daniel Goleman is actually ‘worried about us as a species, particularly the young as they have never had to summon up the effort it takes to focus.’

‘Focus: the hidden driver or excellence’ is his new book and from an interview I followed, it is certainly thought provoking. The link for the interview is here.

indexThis lack of focus has many implications. Focus it seems is the key to a fulfilling life. It attunes us to the goodness that we experience every day, so that those experiences can contribute to a deeper sense of fulfillment or happiness.

Focus or the term ‘cognitive control’ is the ability to keep your mind on one thing and ignore distractions. Cognitive control in childhood has been shown to predict life success, life earnings and savings, home ownership and even elements of health.

This ‘muscle of attention’ ie. focus actually speeds up the ability to develop all other emotional skills, it is that important.

So, if focus is so important Goleman asks the question, ‘Why are we not teaching it explicitly in schools?’ I then add to that, as a parent ‘what am I doing to teach my children to focus?’
Focus is something we can control. We need to be helping our children to focus on feelings and focus on the task at hand. It was found that just counting our breathing can make a difference. It was found in a year 2 class that when they did this daily, they became better learners and were more alert and calm.

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Photo Credit: spookmag.com

As adults we need to be helping to remove distractions so kids can focus. But then, we need to not just remove them, but help kids to learn how to have the control to ignore,  because many of these distractions are not going to go away.  It is a daily challenge for adults and children to ‘resist the pull of electronics and stay with the human world.’

I have found this information challenging. As a parent and teacher how can I help kids to learn this cognitive control/focus? The concerning aspect is that lack of  focus seems to have many negative implications. But the encouraging aspect is that it can be taught.
How do you go resisting the pull for yourself and your kids? I would love to hear from you.

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Photo Credit: thebuddhistcentre.com

Thought for the weekend!

I have had a ‘hairy’ day! (For want of a better expression.)
But then, let’s rephrase that,
I have had a good day with patches that were hairy!

It is a subtle change of thinking for me, but what a difference it makes!

May you have a weekend where you are able to focus on the sweet things among the not so sweet, the warm things amongst the cold and great love and tenderness in the difficult moments!

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photo credit: carldavidweb.com