Sunday, March 10, 2013

Multi-Tasked and Overstimulated

My thoughts before a big race are usually pretty simple. I tell myself: Get out of the blocks, run your race, stay relaxed. If you run your race, you'll win... Channel your energy. Focus. ~ Carl Lewis

     Have we lost our ability to remain focused? I don't remember a time in my life where the minds of so many people are so scattered. It seems to be very difficult for people to remain intent on one thing. To get people to bear down and focus on a dilemma or a project is a difficult task these days. Within and without, people seem to have no sense of direction. Better yet...they have no sense of purpose, and yet I find that these two thoughts...focus and purpose are connected. How can one maintain a pursuit upon a 'purpose' when their mind cannot remain focused? How can you ever find a purpose in life if you cannot discipline the mind? When one slows down for a moment (if you can), its not difficult to see how upside our society has become. Earl Nightingale said, "You become what you think about." and if this is true, well then, what are we?

     We have become a society of multi-tasked and over stimulated people. We cannot seem to live unless our lives are inundated with some type of stimulation. Look around, what do you see? The next generation, and even our own are caught up in this technological vacuum. Cell phone in one ear, iPod in the other, eyes fixed on the computer screen, or the Ipad, doing homework with one hand while text-messaging someone with the other, and don't forget the television is blaring in the background.

     In the documentary, Digital Nation, they researched this 'new' phenomenon that has overtaken our nation, and in fact, the entire world. I found it interesting how they studied students who were considered multi-taskers. Within themselves, these multi-taskers felt like they were very focused and well able to maintain the myriad of objectives in their lives. Yet, after being put through some test, it was quite clear these students actually lost their ability to remain focus, even though they 'thought' they were very focused and able.

     You see...multi-tasking overloads and burdens our system. Everything in the media, every television program, every movie, every music CD, every computer program, every phone app, every video game is designed to give us higher and higher levels of stimulating responses. None of these exciting things are necessarily bad. What is bad is that they are unrelenting. It is a constant bombardment of the mind. A continual 'harassing' of the brain. There is no downtime.

     It is a no win situation, a catch 22 if you will. The eyes of men are NEVER satisfied. The more we overload the pleasure center, the higher the barrier goes. So we seek greater and more pleasurable activities to get over that barrier to the pleasure center. We become hedonistic in our pursuit of pleasure. Our happiness is defined by the level of excitement in our lives. Then pleasure itself becomes unpleasurable. Overstimulated minds reach a place called anhedonia, which is an inability to experience pleasure.  The truth is excitement is not happiness and true happiness cannot be found in excitement. In fact, excitement is the ultimate drug. It is excitement that people are seeking after when engaging in any destructive or addictive behavior.

     To me, in our society , its painfully obvious, many are having trouble remaining focused. Not only do I see it within myself, but as a teacher of young teenagers I see it on a daily basis. As a marathon runner I have had to learn how to remain focused and keep to a training plan for eighteen weeks, and this is not easy, especially in the middle of the training plan. Eighteen weeks of trying to remain steadfast toward a goal would prove difficult for some and overwhelming for a few. I see many caught within this crucible of pleasure and focus. In this instant gratification pleasure oriented society, we want it all. Not only do we want it all NOW, but we want it all, served our way and in our time. But this is not a true picture of life. If the truth be known, we have lost some precious things in this overstimulated culture. The things of meaning have become mundane. Books are boring. To read their words takes focus and concentration of mind. Many would rather read a quick quote covering a picture than take time to read a blog. The outside world has become a threatening place. No longer can the soft breeze of a summer wind stimulate a person enough to be a pleasurable event. To get someone to take a walk in the rain is next to impossible these days. Hobbies of the hands and mind have given way to video games that rob the brain of imagination. Individual creativity is falling to the wayside as we lose touch with the world around us.

     Life seems to be turning into a virtual reality game! BUT this is your life. This is my life. Within our grasps is the way to true victory! I hope and pray, in the weeks ahead, as you and I are tossed to and fro in this epic battle to find our purpose. We can 'see' the power we give up when we remain connected to this need for stimulation and so disconnected from reality. When you feel the crux of all this over stimulation fall upon your mind, THAT is the time to step outside its power. Go for a run. Go for a walk. Ride your bike. Sit in the sun and read a good book. Let’s pursue toward a reality of a life beyond society’s pressures and feel the power that comes from leaving ‘normal’ behind!

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