How I increased my attention span

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I know this might come off as boasting or trite. But the most valuable thing we as individuals have is our attention span. Our ability to give our full attention to one and only thing in front of us. Amidst the tumultuous waters of multi-tasking and constant binge tapping of alerts, social conversations – our attention span is dying. Dying by million distractions.

A few weeks ago – I started doing couple of simple things. No big plan, I just thought I would do some simple things to make myself less distracted. Here is the list of things:

0. I meditated for 15 mins every evening.

1. I stopped using my laptop or phone at least 30 mins before I went to bed.

2. I read an actual dead tree book for those 30 mins and then simply went to sleep without worrying about what happened on FB.

3. When I wake up, I didn’t jump into my phone – which usually starts of as, what’s the weather going to be like and then like 30 mins later I know everyone’s status on FB.

4. I didn’t check my personal email till noon.

5. I didn’t check FB when I was bored. I read something interesting about my field of work.

6. I jumped straight into work as soon I got to office.

This was all new to me and somedays really hard. But I kept at it. Not sure what’s going to come off of it.

After like 7 days, I realized few things.

1. My concentration while reading a book or writing code, spiked up. I was able to focus on one thing in front of me for more than 30 mins, without being physically interrupted.

2. To my fascination, whenever I read long articles – like from longform etc, I was *actually* able to finish the article in one sitting.

3. When I interacted with my daughter, I was not hiding behind my iPhone, I was able to pay full attention to what she was saying. Oh what a fascinating mind is of a 4 year old!!

That’s it. Nothing major. I wasn’t aiming for this level of focus and concentration but I think what I did actually helped me build it.

Why I think Parenting is tiring

Parenting I think is a moment by moment minute or minimum impact decisions for which your whole brain has to use immense resources to compute and decide on each of them. Parenting is deciding what is good for your child every moment. It’s tiring because there are many times that you yourself don’t know that something is good for your child or not. Added on top of that, the behavior you might be prescribing or expecting of, in your child goes completely against what you might believe or it could be something that you think it’s good because some expert thinks so.

Parenting is a profession where you practice it, as you learn it and you become expert when it’s already too late. Maybe useful for nephews or grand kids!

Parenting is a lot about doing exactly what you believe in and setting examples to your child but often what we say, what we believe and what we do is so in-coherent that it hurts to see that we are sending mixed messages to our own child.

Parenting is tiring because in essence it’s a minor step in the grand scale of this social conditioning, this retrofitting of a free flowing wonderful creature into tiny slots and shapes of order, structure and behavior.

Parenting is tiring because you sometimes get that glimpse of your own conditioned self – preaching, pontificating and trying to convince your child about ideas, theories that you don’t believe in.

That’s why I think parenting is tiring. I am not saying it’s bad or good (it’s your call) but it’s my observation. It’s a multitude of unexpected and unseen challenges. One that makes me feel extremely thankful to my parents and have high regard and respect for other parents.

Thankful

thankful

Today as I walked back from work, the wind was just right. The light was just right. The sky reminded me of the times I spent in Singapore. Those over long working days that end up in open sky market bar with great food, drinks and friends. It reminded me of where I was and where I have reached. It reminded me of all the crazy hard work that went into me during those times. It was all fun. Writing code, getting drunk, writing more code. I miss those days. That evening where after a long day of work, me and my buddy would sit down and talk about everything under the sky.

It also made me feel very thankful. I am thankful for the life I live. I am thankful for the people I work with. I am thankful for great friends I have. Looking back I see a long string of memories wound tightly around me. Looking back I reflect on the minutes, hours and days that made me what I am today. Every day I thank *Universe* for where it has gotten me. If there is a hidden hand that maneuvers our lives, I feel it tonight. I feel how it’s shaping my thoughts, my feelings and my life. I feel how much I am blessed.

I am Thankful.

Perfection is a shackle

I struggle with perfection. It’s especially true when it comes to my work. I start to learn something new and then see how others are doing and then set myself up for achieving that stature and shackle myself with that perfect image of what I need to be and then I struggle. Every mis-step I take after that hurts and every lapse – I judge myself forcefully. It’s been going on in my life for a very long time. I have this perfect, pristine self-image which I have made myself a slave of. I struggle carrying that image in my head and shoulders and I crumble.

As I journaled today I realize that I need to step back and take a look at how I put myself in misery and how I can break out of it. As I started to write I realize that the only way I can do it is:

  1. Grateful – Be grateful of the opportunity provided. This would change my attitude and mindset.
  2. Make it small – break down the task at hand in smallest piece possible and work on it
  3. Failure is ok – I can fail and it’s going to be ok
  4. Trust – trust my intuition
  5. Expectation – expect great experience.

Look Up!

I love this video. Somehow this guy has managed to put this so well!! “We are a generation of dumb people with smart phones”

I could say that not to look awkward on BART without digging myself in my cell phone – I end up closing my eyes!

I notice that the speed at which people walk now a days is how fast they can like the things on their facebook wall! The amount of time we spend at red light is how many text messages we are reading and sending. It’s kinda sad.

I love what this article talks about how we don’t know any more about just purposeless walking – -http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27186709

And added to that this book really shaped about what I think about how technology is disrupting families.

Big Disconnect

Fallacy of Self-Discipline

There is a voice in my head which dictates, identifies and categorizes every moment of my life what I am experiencing. It feels like it’s the ultimate self-discipline which is basically controlling my life. I seem to try to copy and perpetuate this pattern in other parts of my life. Like, learning something new, acquiring a new skill. I tell myself that the only way to do that is to be self-disciplined and follow it through. But over the years I have come to realize that this is an illusion. A perpetual carrot dangling in front of me. It’s never final, reached or done. This inner voice makes sure of it. Every time through self-discipline I reach a goalpost or milestone – I find it automatically advanced or moved – thereby creating a void in my self. And every time I resort to stronger regiments and strong promises I increase the size of this gaping hole.

The alternative to this has been suggested to live in the present moment. To accept that all the answers that I seek are in me (or us) and will find a way to me if I make myself present and listen. But my self-discipline seeking mind converts even this one into a self-discipline activity – like “I need to meditate more”, “I need to read up more of Eckhart Tolle” etc. This not only adds to my void but makes peace of mind elusive.

Accepting myself as is the greatest gift I can give to myself in this moment.

Content and Pattern

The conscious mind loves content and sub-conscious mind works on patterns. We love to keep engaged with stories and theories around us and that’s the part of Conscious brain. The sub-conscious however though excels at pattern recognition and most of the time is extracting patterns from the the content that is being fed through the conscious mind. Like anything else in our lives, we need a good balance of these two.

I feel like in this link happy world and facebook shares – we get bogged down by a lot of stories. A lot of them unnecessary. But we read them, we talk and chat about them. What it does however is it kinda creates this fog in conscious part of the brain. This further creates confusion to sub-conscious as it’s not able to extract concrete patterns out of it. This results in sub-conscious mind creating contradicting patterns. Which actually hurts us more than anything.

I believe checking out facebook (a lot) is like death by 1000 cuts. It’s slow but eventually the brain goes numb. I am not against FB in specific but in general how this social media sharing is used in day to day lives.

I feel what meditation does is basically stops the content to the conscious mind for the amount of time and thereby gives subconscious mind a opportunity to sort out stuff. And I think there are many other activities that we do – something deep like that happens. Like when we say the morning sun took my breath away. It’s doing more than that.