From Distracted and Distressed to Focused and Fulfilled
“Whenever we look around the world, we see smart leaders — in politics, in business, in media — making terrible decisions. What they’re lacking is not IQ, but wisdom. Which is no surprise; it has never been harder to tap into our inner wisdom, because in order to do so, we have to disconnect from all our omnipresent devices — our gadgets, our screens, our social media — and reconnect with ourselves.”
― Arianna Huffington, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder
Maybe this sounds like you? On a daily basis you are bombarded with images, information and messages that can leave you feeling exhausted and deficient. Your compensation for this exhaustion is to do more, do it faster and re-prioritize to the current emergency.
Your work flow, your very thinking flow, is constantly interrupted compromising your ability to focus and be present to what is truly important.
In this VUCA environment you’re living in a constant state of vigilance while your stress soars and your relationships suffer. After a while, you begin to wonder what it is you’re doing and why it matters. This kind of busyness is taking its toll.
How did we get here?
In November 2017 the APA (American Psychological Association) released the results of its survey on stress in America. The report indicates that the greatest significant increase in stress in the report’s 10-year history. American stress levels rose from 4.8 to a 5.1, on a 10-point scale, between August 2016 and January 2017. Much of the stress comes from our political and economic climate.
The media messages you receive encourage you to buy more stuff, be more beautiful, strive for that powerful title, live in a bigger house, all while leaving you feeling deficient — the “not enough syndrome” combined with FOMO make a devastating combination.
Technology plays a role in our state of mind and health. We are forever connected through any number of apps, networks and “hacks”. Rarely do people intentionally choose to shut off their phone and turn off their laptop. Even when sleeping many of my clients keep their phone turned on near their bed — just in case. With every beep their sleep is disrupted making them less capable of handling the challenges of the new day.
With immediate access to information, some useful, most not, our minds are overwhelmed, clouded and distracted. The massive amounts of information that we are exposed to take a toll.
In a study conducted by researchers at the University of California-San Diego, researchers claim that people are inundated with the equivalent amount of 34 Gigabytes of information on a daily basis — enough to overload a laptop within a week.
Some notable statistics are:
- People receive about 105,000 words or 23 words per second in half a day (12 hours) (during awake hours).
- When you add images, videos, other online media we reach a volume of 34 gigabytes of information per day on average
- The total consumption of information from television, computers and other information was estimated (for the U.S.) to be 3.6 million gigabytes.
- Traditional media (TV and radio) continue to dominate the daily flow of information with about 60% of hours’ consumption.
What does this mean?
We have a shorter attention span than goldfish — at least that is what a survey by Microsoft supposedly concluded. Indications are that the average attention span has fallen to eight seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000. (Note: The validity of this survey has been debated but it makes for a colorful reference).
Imagine how much energy and brain space are being taken up by everything that is coming at us. No wonder so many people are exhausted. No wonder we make mistakes (small and large). No wonder we experience mental health issues and the health results of chronic stress.
More importantly, in our busyness and overwhelm we forget about true human connection, showing compassion, and authentic and meaningful dialogue.
A Tiny Egg and A Big Pause
During one of my “down the rabbit hole” searches on the internet — a perfect personal example of ingesting too much useless information — I discovered someone who made it his mission to do something about this constant state of busyness and distraction.
Oscar Bonilla Jr., the founder of The Thinking Egg and one of the most successful Kickstarter projects I’ve come across, is a man with a mission. It seems his idea resonated so deeply that they were funded in less than 48 hours. To date, his project is among the top 35 in Design & Tech on Kickstarter (from the 750+ live campaigns), 580% (and counting) over their funding goal with 1600+ supporters (and counting) from around the globe.
I felt like I’d found a kindred spirit.
In my work I often suggest to my clients that they use a kind of totem or reminder to bring them into a mindful state. Creating something so aesthetically pleasing, portable and simple was impressive. I was curious enough about The Thinking Egg that I contacted and interviewed Oscar for this article. I’m sharing a bit of our conversation here.
Me: Why do you think you are having this kind of success with your project?
Oscar: I believe people are just relating to being bombarded (maybe even feeling like the person in the first 25 seconds of our campaign video) with what we’re saturated with in this day and age. Having a physical, tangible reminder to slow things down, in a simple and symbolic design, is something people seem to appreciate.
I also think it’s because people want to be part of a community composed of individuals that desire to slow things down, be more mindful, present and overall more aware in our day-to-day.
Me: What do you see going on for people that suggested that they would need a Thinking Egg?
Oscar: The glorification of being busy seems to be the pinnacle of our societal structure. The more you do, the better, the more successful you are. What I’ve discovered about that thinking, through my own personal burnouts, is that slowing down allows you to understand what is important and necessary and leads you to drop what isn’t.
Me: I see this with my clients as well. There are so many urgent and important things to do and they are all valid. But without the ability to discern between what matters and what I call “noise” they are apt to make bad decisions, to create tension when it’s unnecessary and to damage important relationships.
Oscar: I think many people (including myself) are holding the overdrive button of, “do, do, do”, without fully knowing what the hell we’re actually doing and why we’re even doing it. Having a tangible tool that you can actually touch and carry with you reminds you to slow down and connects you to your Why. It has been extremely helpful for me.
Me: Given your Kickstarter success I can see that others think the same way and are looking for something simple and uncomplicated to be that touchpoint that moves them from mindless action to mindfulness and presence.
Me: Essentially what does the Thinking Egg do and why do you believe it matters?
Oscar: The Thinking Egg is a useful tool to help remind us to slow down, be more mindful, present and overall more aware in our day-to-day. Having a tool to remind us to do so brings clarity and comfort in what we experience daily.
Moving from Human Doings to Human Beings
Yes, life’s busy and yes, life’s complicated. We all have many roles and responsibilities but we’re losing sight of what really matters in life.
Whether you’re a CEO or a young professional, whether you’re in business or you’re a teacher or a stay at home parent, you experience stress and feel the effects of this constant digital connection and information overload that aggravates your peace of mind.
It’s time to disconnect, if only for 30 seconds. It doesn’t take a month at an ashram. It only takes a few seconds, consistently each day, to pause and reconnect to yourself and to what truly matters to you.
In a world hungry for new solutions, new perspectives and better human connection, each moment that you pause and connect to yourself enhances your creativity and your ability to lead and live with intention.
There in that moment of peace and inspiration you’ll rediscover your purpose and enhance your wellbeing so you can be present to all the challenges and gifts life has to offer.
Alicia M. Rodriguez is a writer, storyteller and catalyst for personal growth. She provides multi-discipline coaching for multi-dimensional individuals. She works with individuals who choose to consciously create a life that resonates with their heart and mind. www.aliciamrodriguez.com
CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE DOWNLOADABLE COPY OF 59 WAYS TO QUIET YOUR MIND >>>> These are simple things you can incorporate in your life to become more mindful, focused and peaceful at any moment.
If you’re one of those people with the busy syndrome, please consider supporting Oscar and The Thinking Egg; visit his Kickstarter Campaign page now and gift yourself or someone you care about with a moment to pause.