by: E.B. Johnson
It seems like everyone is chasing happiness, but only a few manage to find it. Why? Do they have some happiness skill we haven’t gained? Was it passed down to them by parents or some rich relative? No. Happiness — like every other emotional experience in our lives — is an inside job. We define what happiness looks like on our own terms, and when we don’t reach it we’re often to blame. Are you allowing distractions to impede your ultimate happiness? Rather than giving up at the first sign of a roadblock, seek to understand yourself and the signs of chaos getting in the way.
Distraction isn't failure.
Have you been failing a lot in life lately? Do you feel you’re just not getting it all done? Or that you don’t have what it takes to build whatever success looks like to you? Whether you’re ready to absorb it or not, you’re not incapable. You have exactly what it takes to create a life that’s entirely yours, but you first have to confront the distractions that are holding you back and sucking through your time.
We have been conditioned by society to look outward for a sense of validation and a sense of purpose. Society tells us that’s important to be liked by others, and that it’s important to conform to their standards. Because of this (and the lessons we take on in childhood) we seek outward validation from the world. Your partners, friends, and family can’t give you that validation, though. You’re the only one who can see your true worth. It’s up to you to validate your own experience here.
Super future focused
Just as dwelling too often in the past is toxic, so is ruminating on the future. When you obsess over things that are still to come, you create an aura of worry that’s both toxic and hard to escape. We can’t control the future, and we can’t predict it. The only thing we can do is make ourselves as powerful as we can in the present moment, and know that we have the strength and abilities to overcome anything the world might throw our way.
A cluttered life
Is your life cluttered? Clutter is the number one distraction we all deal with, and it doesn’t only pertain to our living and working environment. We can be just as cluttered anywhere else in our lives. We can have cluttered emotions, a cluttered train of thought, and even cluttered (and uncomfortable) relationships. In order for us to drag ourselves up that hill, we have to take a stand and set boundaries early on.
How would you describe your current relationship? What about your past relationships? This doesn’t have to be intimate in nature. It can be any relationship that’s important to you. What do you see? When our relationship is toxic or abusive, it becomes a major distraction in our day-to-day lives. We go to work thinking about it, and we come home thinking about. The more negativity we bring into the partnership, the worse things get.
The past is one of the biggest distractions in getting where we want to be in life. Are you living in the past? Are you holding on to grudges? Or ruminating over painful events that you had no power to control? Looking backward — in small doses — can help us get a grasp on our current moment. When we obsess over the wrongs of yesterday, though, we end up stuck in toxic cycles of behavior and belief that keep us in pain and seeking meaning.
Negativity — like it or not — is a distraction. If you’ve got a poor attitude and you surround yourself with negative experiences, situations, and people, you end up feeling low, disgruntled, and uninspired. Negative attitudes and outlooks hold you back. They say, “I can’t,” when you should tell the world that you will. You can’t operate at your highest frequency when your whole life feels like a massive thundercloud.
Limit your distractions so you can thrive.
If you’re serious about getting where you want to be in this life, then (at some point) you’re going to have to make the decision to limit your distractions. Our distractions are saboteurs, hellbent on keeping us stuck and scared where we’re at. Want better relationships? Want a life that’s worth living? Get past the distractions and focus on the action you need to take to be a better person.
1. De-clutter your life
Cluttered lives aren’t peaceful lives — that’s just a fact. Whether your home is cluttered or your heart is cluttered, it’s going to distract you and leaving your feeling frazzled. In order for you to get back on track to happiness, you need to clear out this clutter and create a straight-forward path to success. Be gentle with yourself. This process won’t go slow and won’t come easy, either.
Clear out the clutter in your life. Clear out the cluttered home, the cluttered desk, the cluttered relationships, and the cluttered emotional states. This is the turning point for you. When you thin out the clutter in your life, you thin out the distractions and make room for purpose and new connections.
Sit down and make a list of all the things that are cluttering your life. Start with the obvious: how can you de-clutter your living environments so that you have space to think and breathe? Move on to the more intangible parts of your life. What relationships are feeling cluttered and why? What about your mental state? Do you feel scattered? Do you feel like the pressure of life is getting to you? Little-by-little clear your life through honest action and investment in a deeper healing plan.
2. Cut out your bad habits
When you step back to take a look at the way you do things, you become shocked by how much time and energy you’re wasting. It all comes down to the habits that we set. Are you optimizing your habits to limit distractions? Or do your habits set you up to fall prey to distractions? Some of our habits make the most out of our time and some don’t. For us to have greater focus where it counts, we have to create new habits that help us tackle our goals.
Get rid of the bad habits that are holding you back in life and in love. So many of us are holding on to patterns of beliefs and behavior that aren’t even really ours. We inherited them from others, and instead of questioning it — we keep wasting time!
Now is the moment to take a step back and look at your habits and routines. Are you really making time to accomplish things (and improve your life)? Or are you just treading water and jam-packing your to-do lists? Are you a procrastinator? Do you struggle to plan or think ahead? All of that has to change. Getting rid of the distractions means getting rid of the bad habits that push our partners away or otherwise distract us from our true path.
3. Consider the real world
Distractions are a major upset because (more often than not) they lead us away from true reality. They divert our focus and make us dwell and consider things that aren’t even really a possibility or a factor. We spend so much time worrying about things that don’t exist and never do exist. Instead of spending our time worrying and being upset, we have to root ourselves firming in reality. This is how we remind ourselves of where we’re going.
Don’t make your phone and social media the only focal point of your life. Stay connected to the real, physical world and everything you want to accomplish within your reality. Root yourself in reality and all the real and present tasks you need to accomplish.
Every time you check Facebook or Instagram, you shave time off your day-to-day experiences. You take a few more minutes away from your family, your friends, anything that could be improving the quality of your life. Look at your digital addictions for what they really are — do they provide you with any real tangible benefit? Or have they become more of a distraction than anything else. Note your emotional states before and after using your social. Outside of the dopamine hit, is it making you feel better or worse about your life?
Putting it all together…
On the road to happiness, there are a lot of upsets and distractions that get in our way. It’s up to us to confront these distractions and handle them accordingly — but too many of us allow ourselves to get side-tracked and thrown off-course. Want to finally be happy? Want to build stronger relationships? Or just get what you want out of life? You’ve got to kick the distractions to the curb and focus on taking the action that gets you where you need to be.
Clear the clutter out of your life, no matter what plane it exists on. Get rid of clutter in your house, your relationships, and even your state of mind. Shift your bad habits and see them for what they are. Honestly admitting that what we’re doing isn’t working is an important first step. Root yourself in the real world and don’t be taken off-course by the tempting allure of a life lived digitally. Don’t ignore the distractions. See them for what that they are — a challenge to test how serious you really are. Above all else, though, close the door. When it’s time to make important moves, shut out the people who can’t help you and focus forward. You could conquer the world if you wanted to, after all. Allow yourself to do that my limiting distractions and embracing a new reality.
- Hobbiss, M., Fairnie, J., Jafari, K., & Lavie, N. (2019). Attention, mindwandering, and mood. Consciousness And Cognition, 72, 1–18. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2019.04.007
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