Our world is becoming increasingly filled with distraction. Information moves faster, louder, and brighter than ever before. Entertainment, social media, and marketing have never been so prevalent. They beg for our attention and our focus. In so doing, our minds are diverted from more important work.
We would be wise to adopt principles that help us live less distracted.
However, these distractions are easy to notice. We readily admit that we spend too much time checking e-mail, watching television, or playing games on our phone. After all, the battle plays out in front of us each day.
Far more detrimental to our lives are the subtle distractions that quietly surround us. They are not announced with blinking lights or beeping sounds. In fact, they have become so commonplace and ever-present, we hardly even notice their existence. But these distractions take residence in our mind and wreak havoc on our pursuits. And in the end, they keep us from living our lives to their greatest potential.
Consider this list of 9 ever-present distractions that often keep us from fully living. And recognize if any have taken residence in your heart.
1. The Promise of Tomorrow. Joshua Glenn Clark said it like this, “We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for future comfort is the biggest thief of life.” It is not entirely foolish to look toward the future and plan accordingly. However, when we endure our days only for the sake of tomorrow (the weekend, the vacation, or the retirement), we miss out on the full beauty and potential of the present.
2. The Pursuit of Perfection. We ought to pursue excellence and pride in all we do. Our next step forward should be the right next step and it should be taken with as much intention as possible. But doing our best and achieving perfection are rarely the same. When perfection becomes the goal, it becomes the enemy of progress—and in this way, it often distracts us from taking the essential risk of moving forward.
3. The Regret of Yesterday. To live is to experience regret—nobody escapes life unscathed. We regret our actions, our decisions, and our motivations. But no amount of regret can ever change the past and only those who have come to recognize and admit their imperfections are able to move beyond them. Call your mistakes what they are, offer an apology when necessary, and then move on. Don’t allow regret from the past to negatively distract from opportunity in the present.
4. The Accumulation of Possessions. The things we own require our time, our energy, our money, and our attention. Every increased possession adds increased stress in our lives. And yet, we continue to pursue and accumulate more and more and more. But more is not the answer. More has become the distraction.
5. The Desire for Wealth. Those who chase riches have misplaced their greatest potential and traded it to the highest bidder. Our lives were designed for contribution—to provide a positive impact on society for ourselves, our families, and those who live in community with us. Sometimes, our contribution provides financial excess. Other times, it does not. But either way, when our contribution to society becomes chiefly motivated by a selfish desire to accumulate riches, it has become self-focused. And we have lost our opportunity to live it to the fullest.
6. The Need for Notoriety. The life you live is the life you live regardless if anybody notices or not. Those who live lives focused on the need to be recognized for it are usually the first to take shortcuts to get there. Instead, find significance in the eyes of those who know you best—because in the end, that is all that matters anyway.
7. The Pull of Comparison. It seems, by nature, we feel compelled to compare our lives to the people around us. We compare our belongings, our appearance, our families, and our successes. But each time we do, we place our focus and energy on the wrong person. Comparing yourself to others will always cause you to regret what you are not, rather than allow you to enjoy and grow who you are.
8. The Appeal of Pleasure. Many of us are led astray by the appeal and pursuit of pleasure. “Why not?” we might ask, “what is wrong with the pursuit of pleasure?” And I might even agree, at least to a point. But here’s the problem, pleasure is a terrible teacher. The most significant lessons we learn in life are rarely received during times of pleasure. Instead, they are born out of pain. I am not contending that we should seek pain in our lives. But I am contending a life lived chiefly for the pursuit of pleasure, will usually seek it in all the wrong places.
9. The Presence of Indifference. The world is a big place and we have much to offer. Those who choose to live life as a victim will always miss their opportunity to give. Additionally, those who choose to adopt an indifference to the world around them will miss out on their greatest potential. But those who recognize need and seek to do something about it, experience a joy and fulfillment that can never be discovered anywhere else.
Our world is full of distraction—the most dangerous are those we do not recognize.
But our fullest potential requires that we notice distraction—and work diligently to overcome it. (tweet that)