How much of your life is a distraction?

Daily Distractions

“To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see everyday, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.” - Theodore White

There is some fleeting and empty comfort felt from this consuming.


The traditional meaning of the word entertainment has to do with having guests and providing them with food and drink. Perhaps this is the best form of entertainment, as there is a good deal of human interaction. We are in need of this social interaction. However, as entertainment migrates quickly toward electronic sources, this human factor falls out. We are then left with the more contemporary definition of the term, where entertainment becomes any form of “providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment.”

The central premise here is that any form of entertainment, social or technological, can be a form of a distraction. We as humans have many different parts of our brain. There are the parts that want and need to be social. There are the parts that like to hear sounds; take music for example. Then there are parts of our brains that want to be alone.

When we are alone, we can feel the feelings that are inside of us. There is an entire world that only becomes acknowledgeable during these times. Many people cannot handle this. They dread feeling these feelings. They lead a life of running in the other direction.

Anything that takes you out of the present moment is a distraction. These distractions can be anything from technology, television, news, music, sports, or any mind-altering substance.

Television opens us up to mindlessly consume advertisements that are interjected by corporations. Technology allows a thing like television advertising to take on a whole new level. Some ads go with you everywhere; take ads on your cell phone for example.

When you are engaged in your mobile device, there is no chance that you can be in the present moment. News, sports, and music are just forms of media that reside on this new influx of handheld technological devices.

This arrival of new media forms does not directly influence brain chemistry. What about substances that may distract us at a molecular level.


Drugs are always an interesting discussion. The term in and of itself has many bad connotations. However, in society, today “legal” drugs do arguably more damage than any illicit drug ever has.

Take for example alcohol. It is seemingly allowed so that we can all cope with the things that we think we cannot change. All things stressful build up throughout the week.

We have ever more demanding bosses, and everything on the television makes the world look like it is “going to hell in a handbasket.” On Friday you uncork, and by Sunday you have forgotten about all of the things that happened last week. You are now stricken by the anxiety of the coming week.

This cycle repeats, over and over again. What you didn’t notice was that all of the most relevant and shocking news stories usually appear on Friday afternoon. This timed press release is so that you will forget about it by Monday.

Perhaps alcohol in moderation is fine. It is the transition from wanting a certain amount for a specific time, to needing something that is the real slippery slope. As David Foster Wallace mentions "Most problems in my life happen when I confuse what I want with what I need."

When any substance use becomes a coping mechanism, it is a distraction from what is underneath. That is when we get into real trouble and not only perpetuate our cycle through our lives but readily pass it along to our children and people around us.

Alcohol is only one example of a distraction from a drug. Some drugs are both external and internal to our bodies. If we check our phone, and we have a notification, we get a small dose of an opioid like chemicals. Opiates are a highly addictive substance that our very own body makes. [1]

A rush of many neurochemicals including opioids are triggered by anything that makes us feel good. Being with people we love, eating food, exercising and social media notifications all stimulate a neurochemical response. [1]

Knowing about neurochemicals is not the end all for addiction and distraction. People are highly complex creatures that form habits based on rewards, surroundings and other things like morals and values. [1]

With our sophisticated surroundings, we must be cautious. We must consciously place our efforts on things that matter to us. We must first figure out what it is that is meaningful to us and then pursue it with a vengeance. Without the sense of contributing to something significant, it is easy to slip into a cycle of addiction and depression.

Things can become seemingly worthless as we continually pursue hedonistic pleasures with diminishing returns. This view of this sort of reward overuse is not a pessimistic viewpoint, but rather a cautionary one.


Let's take a step back and contemplate the very phenomena of possessing something. Property can range from actually having something held firmly in your hands, to the way in which we speak.

People think that they can possess other people. For example “I have a boyfriend/girlfriend.” Do you? No. The “I have,” implies possession. In reality, there is someone who as of the last time that you saw them, happened to be more interested in you than any other person, or at least more financially, emotionally, or sexually entangled with you.

People want to possess people because it makes them feel safe, it makes them feel like they will have this person both now and in the future. The critical thing to note is that the only thing you have is the present moment when you are with this individual. That is why it is essential to be there and acutely aware of that current moment in time that you can enjoy with them.

There is one more critical item that perhaps more than any other item people try to possess. This highly sought after commodity is the notion of money.

Every notion that we have of money in the twentieth century is that of ones and zeros in a computer. Many people stash all possible cash and do anything in their power to gain more. Money is the enabler for dissatisfaction, corruption, substantial power gaps and struggle.

We spend our lives slaving to “get” this money, to save it and store it in an institution that in and of itself is looking to make money. So we spend our lives being miserable to "possess" something that is little more than a figment of our imagination.

We must be careful not to get too caught up in possessing any one thing. In the end, there is nothing that we can possess. It all fades away. The most important thing is the present moment, the here and now because that is all that you have. Times of entertainment, drug use, and possession all come and go. Sometimes you can do more of it, sometimes less. Discontent only arises when you want what it is that you do not have.