Have you every met someone who always appears distracted? Normally, I do not approach people who look too distracted. I don't want to interrupt them so I just skip it altogether. When we are so distracted or busy, we are really missing out on the most beautiful moments of our day. Moments like noticing that a friend needs a hug. Moments like an excited glance when our child does something amazing. Moments that show us the stranger next to us could really use a smile.
Distraction has the ability to swallow every ounce of concentration that we can muster. Distraction is the opposite of concentration and if it is practiced enough, it will become our preference. A friend once confided in me that she had become so addicted to the distraction of her phone that she had a difficult time putting it down at night to sleep. She said she felt jittery without it and her habit of scrolling and browsing had begun to steal her sleep.
When I heard this, it reminded me of other addiction symptoms. Distraction is an addiction, albeit an accepted addiction. There are many things that can become tools of distraction for us. Busyness, phones, games, gossip, television, work, etc. Identifying our own distraction level is the first step in overcoming distraction. If we remember that distractions waste our energy and concentration restores it, we can use our tools of concentration to help renew our minds.
Try practicing things that increase your concentration such as listening to someone else speak without interrupting or trying to dismiss yourself. Or, try sitting down with a family member and play a board game without having your distraction of choice nearby. Maybe turn the lights down low before bed and read a book (with actual pages) 15 minutes before bed. The best exercise in concentration that I have ever done involves sitting on the floor (with no sound around) quietly for 20 minutes with your eyes closed. During that time you can pray, think, meditate--but nothing else. Honestly, this took me weeks to conquer.
This week, try to be available to those around you. Be present. In the moment. Let's see how this improves our concentration and even our well-being!