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Here Is Your Daily Reminder to Stop Being So Distracted

We are constantly distracted in today’s world.

We are distracted by our smartphones, billboards, and other people as much as we are distracted by our own thoughts and emotions that flow through our brains and bodies at any given moment.

The word “distract” comes from Latin meaning “to draw or to drag apart.”

So, from what are we being drawn apart?

We might distract ourselves from thinking about difficult situations or from engaging in unpleasant tasks.

For example, I like to watch comedies and laugh when things are bad. Sometimes, I’d rather watch a hockey game than clean up my home office in the garage.

However, there are times that we are distracted from things are that are not difficult or unpleasant but are very important and essential.

  • We have all seen people at restaurants who are on their phones and ignoring each other.
  • We have all seen people texting or using their cell phone while they are driving.
  • We have all talked to people who we can tell are not really listening to us because they are doing something else.

Those who practice mindfulness would say that we are ultimately being distracted from the present moment, which is all that we have.

I am guilty of being distracted as much as everyone else, but what has helped me lately is a quote from Zen master, poet, peace activist and author Thich Nhat Hanh:  “When you are washing the dishes, wash the dishes.”

How can we apply this to real life, everyday moments?

  • When you are washing the dishes, don’t wash the dishes because you want to relax and watch TV—wash the dishes because you may not wash them as well as you want to or you make break a dish!
  • When you are at a restaurant to enjoy the company of another, put your phone away and enjoy the good food and company!  Nothing is so important that it cannot wait until after dinner.
  • When you are driving to get home from work, then drive—being distracted while you are driving can mean life or death for you or someone else.
  • When you are talking to a loved-one on the phone or in person, then talk—give that person your attention.

Simple enough, right? Should be common sense, really.

But with attention spans at its lowest and distractions abound, it seems like even the best of us can use a reminder to be mindful, even in the little moments.

Thich Nhat Hanh said that if we are always distracted, then how can we really enjoy what is right in front of us in the present moment?

If we all could make the effort to really pay attention to each other, what a huge difference we could make in our families, our communities, and in our world.

There are many people online who offer different ways of practicing mindfulness.  Experiment with different mindfulness practices and find one that works for you.  You will find many benefits from developing your mindful awareness.

Victor Manalo

Victor Manalo

Victor Manalo is the Dean of the Claremont Core at CLU. He teaches graduate courses in civic engagement, social welfare policy, practice, and research, human service agency administration, community organizing, and institutional racism. In his own community in the City of Artesia, California, he has served as a Member of the City Council since 2007 and is currently the Mayor.

Claremont Core

Claremont Lincoln University

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Victor Manalo

Victor Manalo

Victor Manalo is the Dean of the Claremont Core at CLU. He teaches graduate courses in civic engagement, social welfare policy, practice, and research, human service agency administration, community organizing, and institutional racism. In his own community in the City of Artesia, California, he has served as a Member of the City Council since 2007 and is currently the Mayor.

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