I’ve developed a habit of “home and garden time” where I spend a couple of hours each day outside or do home maintenance projects. It’s also a time where I get clarity for the day or on a particular topic. This morning as I was winding up several garden hoses and placing them on the new hooks I’d just installed, my mind found clarity about a disturbing topic that had been troubling me.
A few days ago I read that apparently America has lost its ability for long-term attention. Not only are its over-achiever citizens under the influence and pressure of the “crazy busy” syndrome, but that, as a result of being constantly connected to technology through apps, email and texting habits, America is considered the most “ADD” on the globe (“ADD” as in Attention Deficit Disorder). Initially I had strong objections to such blanket statements that generalize our entire country and population, including me. Then I looked at my own behavior to see why I was so irritated about the matter.
Frankly, I enjoy using technology to stay connected to the world. I carry my phone with me EVERYWHERE. I have two phone numbers and five email addresses that forward to my smartphone, as well as sending duplicate emails to my computer. I stay updated throughout the day. This system allows me to answer and/or delete emails regularly and not be overwhelmed when I sit down at my desk. If the subject line is uninteresting or if the sender is distributing political, promotional or spam-like messages, I can read a few characters, make a determination of its follow-up value to me, and click the DELETE key in less than three seconds. If the nuisance messages occur more than once or twice a week, I can UNSUBSCRIBE from all future communications. For those email subscriptions that continue to uplift and inform, I eagerly read them before deciding whether to SAVE TO FILE, FORWARD or DELETE.
The arrival of social media has presented a whole new challenge to time management and the feeling of overwhelm. I’m somewhat of a novice in this realm, so I’m sure there are short-cuts still to learn that would make sorting and reviewing postings more efficient. Meanwhile, I limit my viewing activity on these sites. Since I don’t listen to radio news or watch television very often, one online media community comes directly to my smartphone so I can at least know about major events in the world as they occur (as well as how my family and friends are faring for the day). I’ve become quite accomplished at scanning the first few words of text to determine just how much more I want to know about someone’s situation, recipe, activity or inspirational message. Anything more than three or four lines warrants a return visit later in the day.
This “crazy busy” schedule and impatient nature certainly expresses as ADD behavior in me from time to time. But I don’t like labels. And not every area of my life includes technology.
In fact I’m the most serene in those areas that have no high-tech devices in them at all: gardening, hose-winding, meditating, painting, reading (a real book), crafting, etc. These simple activities encourage long-term attention without the short-term distractions of advancing technology. Such tasks, as simple as they might be, have immediate gratification benefits while also creating a solid foundation for something more. They “add” to the life I’m living now…the one I’m building for the future. For example, sorting, winding and hanging the garden hoses resulted in acknowledging how many I have…more than enough to spare and share. (Abundance comes in many forms.) I can ADD to the lives of others by giving them away and find more meaning (and space) in mine!
Through my intention to ADD and to serve, an enduring life unfolds in a very positive way. This new meaning…to ADD to life and have long-term meaning for what I do…is no longer objectionable to my consciousness. In fact I can say with confidence: “I have an ADD- approach to life!” Try this new definition and see if it works for you, too. It’ll only take a few seconds.