How Painful Are Your Distractions?

The headline made me chuckle about the prevalence and pain of workplace and life distractions: Tourist walks off Australia pier while checking Facebook. The tourist had to be rescued by police because she couldn't swim. And get this... when the woman was retrieved from the water 20 minutes later, she was still holding on to her smartphone! I had to smile when a Constable being interviewed about the incident said, "People need to pay more attention while using social media around water." If the article wasn't bizarre enough, the comments by readers were even more surreal. People freely spoke of hitting lamp posts, falling off curbs, and even putting their hand in a stranger's back pocket!

Distractions have always been a part of life, but in today's technology-obsessed society, they are more common than ever. I have several blog posts on the topic. Fighting distractions was also the impetus for my book, Getting to It. And while we might laugh at bumping into a wall, missing a chance to get on an elevator, or tripping over something in front of us, they are reminders of a more serious problem-we just aren't living in the present moment.

Recently, in a restaurant, I sat close to a family having lunch. Other than responding to the waitress, they never talked to each other-for the entire meal! Even while eating they had their mobile devices close at hand. At one point I even saw one of the children look at their mom and dad longingly for a moment, and then returned to their electronic adventure. What a missed opportunity for the family to connect. I so wanted to offer the words from Dr. Spencer Johnson's book, The Precious Present: When you have the precious present, you will be perfectly content to be where you are.

This dangerous trend has even found its way into my home. A few nights ago I noticed that while sitting in the living room, every member of my family was on an electronic device AND the televsion was blaring as well. The irony-we were all seeking to connect with others while disconnecting ourselves from the people right in front of us.

There is so much to experience in every moment of life. I'm not talking about productivity or getting better work results-I'm referring to just enjoying being IN the moment. Last week I spent two hours at a dinner table enjoying conversation with good friends. And not one of us checked our phones. It was just fantastic.

As we move full swing into the holiday break, my hope is that you give yourself the gift of the present moment whether it's time with family, friends, or even when you are alone. It might not prevent you from falling off a pier, but it WILL ensure that you are ready to enjoy all that the present moment has to offer.