31 Ways To #ChangeState — Day 18: Distract


4:45 Monday

Saint Paul


Hey reader, maybe you notice how I sign off many emails with “Keep your focus!”

(If you’re not on the email list, sign up here, I can wait…)

That’s because what we put into our brain influences what comes out.

But sometimes, we all get a bit fixated on one thing or another.

Maybe we’re returning to that argument with our significant other.

Maybe we’re excited about an upcoming vacation.

Maybe we’re just a bit bored and any thought that enters our brain gets chased by the monkey.

Often, our brain starts on an idea or a story… and when we don’t have a resolution to that story, we keep coming back to it, even if we have better things to worry about.

This is called an “open loop.” Our brain desires closure, and if we don’t get closure, we keep replaying the ideas in  our heads.

In these situations, your focus is working against you!

So we have two options here:

  • You might need to be distracted from a single event (past or future), or
  • You might need to force your focus onto a distraction until that distraction is resolved (closing the loop)

If you’re stuck in the second of these two options, your best bet might just be to close the loop. Find out how the story ends if that’s really what’s keeping you distracted. There might not be any other solution until this memory fades.

If you’re trying to remove your focus from an event that’s coming or has already happened, you might need to create a distraction that will deeply engage your senses and brain.

A distraction that works well for me is writing.

Specifically, listing the ideas that keep racing through my brain.

You see, those ideas don’t want to be forgotten… but maybe this isn’t the time or place to work on them. By writing them out, you’re giving yourself permission to unload this info from  your current working memory.

Like a computer, when you free up your memory and your brain’s processing power, you can get more work done.

Maybe writing isn’t the best option for you, or for this situation. Perhaps a few minutes playing a game would be better, or shuffling cards, or working on an art project, or going for a walk to burn some energy.

The more deeply engaged you are with any topic or idea or activity… the more you’ll stay on that single idea, and not return to… whatever it was… that… you were trying to distract yourself away from.

See? We’ve already forgotten it.