A Distraction Hack

The Biggest Distraction

It’s easy to get distracted these days. There’s little respite from the media. If you’re even a touch obsessive, it’s hard to turn off the TV …if only for fear of missing something. It kind of reminds me, as I’ve said before, of the scene in “A Clockwork Orange” where the guy is forced to watch what they wanted him to see.

The problem with TV is it kidnaps at least 50% of my focus. This is okay when I’m folding clothes. But any activity requiring more than 50% focus, like reading directions, cleaning the litter box, paying bills, talking on the phone, or especially reading, is half- baked with the TV blaring in the background. In fact, talking on the phone becomes a battle of the talking heads if I happen to be watching a News channel. 

Bottom line, there are many things vying for my attention, and it’s become increasingly more difficult to focus. I’m at the point I need to memorize my morning and evening routines so I don’t leave out a step.

The Magic Elixir

So, what’s the magic elixir to cure my lack of focus without a drastic reduction in TV? After all, this isn’t Lent. I don’t want to actually give up TV. I just want to be more efficient.

The answer, in my mind, is Meditation. Meditation trains your brain to focus. It’s like a magic pill, and it’s free!

They say if aspirin came out today, no one would be able to afford it. We tend to take it for granted, in the same way we water down our respect for freebies as potent healing modalities. In this way, we’ve drunk the kool-aid.

Meditation is a freebie…a potent freebie, and one of the benefits is an increased ability to focus.

Not only is it easy on your pocketbook, it’s an easy process. You simply find a quiet spot, set a timer for 5 minutes (if you’re a beginner), and focus on your breath or a word, such as “one”, or any word that won’t lead you down a trail of other thoughts.

Of course, other thoughts will interrupt you because the brain is always percolating with thoughts. That’s what the brain does. You’re simply harnessing, or in other words, training the brain by limiting it to one thought, or one focus, for a brief period.

This is your mental gym. It requires concentration. But the benefits are off the charts. And one of the coolest benefit is how meditation beefs up your immune system

In my next blog I’ll explain how, and go over the other benefits. 

So powerful…so cheap…so cool!

Stay tuned.

Austin, Anyone?

 Texas Adventure

Ever been to Austin? I recently visited the city. This was a first for me. I’ve been to Dallas, but as far as I can recall, that’s the only place I’ve been in the state of Texas. Yes, I’ve been to the Houston airport, but that’s as far as it goes. So, maybe it was time to visit the Texas capital.

Texas is a proud state. In high school, a fellow classmate, who I believe had lived in Oklahoma for her entire life, announced that she was moving to Texas. I remember her exact words. “Once a Texan, always a Texan!” How, quickly, I thought, she changed her allegiance. So, there’s obviously an allure as well as a deep sense of pride and privilege connected with living in this state.

But, hey, I was just a random tourist passing through…or should I say “we” were just passing through. By this, I mean both me and my money. After all, I left a hefty amount of cash in Austin…at least, hefty by my retired teacher standards. I added to the coffers of the hotel, several excellent restaurants, as well as several trendy shops in the area.  

I left with several Tee shirts and a pair of new glasses. They’re in the genre of the elderly, but fashionable, lady known as Iris…you can find her on Netflix…thick, black glasses that definitely make a statement.

We also went to Milk and Honey for massages. We needed these after hoofing it around downtown Austin. 

The Duck Tour

Tourist wise, we took what’s called a Duck Tour. This is where your vehicle leaves the city streets and drives right into the water. I was hesitant to take this adventure after reading about the Duck Tour fatalities in Branson, but I was assured they no longer use the military style boats.

My first clue this Duck Tour thing was mainly for kids was when the driver started handing out “duck quackers”, as these clickers are called. Strangely, he didn’t give a “quacker “to me or my cousin. Maybe we looked too ancient to even bother wasting a “quacker” on…or maybe it was my curled upper lip that dissuaded him…whatever.

Diary of a Foodie

I like to think of myself as a foodie, although my love for McFlurries probably discredits this moniker. However, it was in Austin I experienced probably the best food of my life to date.

In case you go to Austin, it’s called Hestia. They serve you with individual servings shared by the group. With each serving, my cousin made this noise that sounded like pure bliss. I’ve never heard her do this at any other restaurant. At first I thought she’d bitten her tongue or hurt herself in some way, but I quickly realized she was in a state of culinary ecstasy. I had to concur.

The only not- so- great experience was in an establishment, which will go unnamed, that served really, really hot food. It must have been an Aries restaurant. I’m usually sensitive to spicy foods, but this was spicy on steroids. One taste was all it took. If there hadn’t been a pitcher of water on the table, I might not be here to write this blog.

Yes, the Covid was rampant during our visit. But we wore masks, and in spite of that, had a wonderful time.

So, even though I’m not a fan of Austin City Limits, the trip was a blast.

The Right Thing To Do

A Point of View

I read an interesting article this morning in the Epoch Times written by George A. Rivera. This particular essay was from a column devoted to the next generation. In other words, advice from those of us who are little long in the tooth to the up- and -comers.

In this article, he discusses doing what’s right simply because it’s the right thing to do. “Of course,” you may think. “Isn’t that a no-brainer?”

When the question was posed to his granddaughter, she had other ideas. These included to avoid getting in trouble, to get a reward, and to please others. 

Although these are all bona fide reasons to do what’s right, he reminded her that the only reason to do the right thing is because it’s the right thing to do.

 The other reasons are born of external motivations. Isn’t this, many times, the reason we do the things we do, and is there anything wrong with this?

Our Motivations

 In my mind, absolutely not. How many of my students would have studied for my Civics test if they knew it wouldn’t be graded? How many of us would go to work each day without the extrinsic motivation of a paycheck? So, getting a reward is an understandable reason to do what’s right.

What about not getting in trouble? That’s a valid reason. After all, only masochists intentionally cause themselves pain. Oh, and of course, teenagers, who use those years to experiment with risky behaviors, only partly because the human brain doesn’t totally develop until the age of twenty-five. Until that age, thinking ahead to the consequences of one’s actions may be considered only briefly, or not at all. Insurance companies who insure young drivers know this.

Doing what’s right to please others can be linked to getting a reward. There’s nothing wrong with this. 

But doing what’s right because it’s the right thing to do…ah, that falls into another category. This is what we all aim for. 

A Moral Dilemma

I remember when one of my students found some money on the school grounds. He was thinking about pocketing the money. This turned into a class discussion. 

“But nobody is claiming it. We don’t know who it belongs to,” he reasoned.

“Yes, “ I responded. “You don’t know who it belongs to, but you know who it doesn’t belong to.”

End of discussion. Taking the money to the front office was doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do. But this higher ordered thinking sometimes takes being exposed to advice from someone with more exposure to life than you. 

It’s the gift you give to the up- and- comers.