Have you ever stopped to think…

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By Martha O’Regan
And forgot to start again? When I saw this bumper sticker many years ago, I laughed out loud with a response of “yep, all day long.” How many times a day do you get distracted by all the “bright shiny objects” that continuously vie for our attention? Do you get to the end of a day with that to-do list still full? And, who doesn’t walk into a room and wonder “why did I come in here” and have to retrace your steps to remember? Or, is it just me?
The truth is, we live in a world of information and stuff overload and our brains are so jumbled with conflicting data from so many “experts” or too much stimulation from all of our technological gadgets, making it difficult to focus, even when we desire it. Unless we are living on a deserted island, we all have the propensity for one of the many “alphabet soup” syndromes labeling our inability to give undivided attention to a specific task. Understanding how the brain works helps to create methods to teach ourselves ways to focus our attention on what is important for a healthy, joyful life, ultimately eliminating procrastination and self-sabotage.
Every morsel of information that we are exposed to through our five senses, goes into the brain and either begins building a new neural pathway or gets connected with one already formed.  If we repeat or receive that info continuously, that pathway gets more grounded and familiar, contributing to our behaviors and patterns — good or bad.  So, just by living in our current world,  we are continuously bombarded with too many bits of unimportant, unfiltered, and nonsensical information that just gets jumbled in with the other bits of the same, never really taking hold, resulting in confusion or deficits in our attention.  If we could periodically “defrag” our brain like we do with our computer, we could clean out or organize the bits of data that are just floating around in there.  But, that hasn’t been discovered … yet.
In the meantime, one tool we all have is self awareness. Becoming aware of each moment allows us to focus on just that moment, not the other gazillion moments on the horizon. Start by tuning into those times when you feel overwhelmed, scattered or unfocused and just note where or how you feel it in the body.  Then, allow yourself to stop for a moment, close your eyes if practical, take a deep breath and just be in gratitude for clarity and focus. Continue this process until you feel less scattered or a direction reveals itself to you. Quieting the mind allows that little voice in our head, often referred to as our inner wisdom or higher self, to be heard. I call it a “Divine Download” and am always grateful because I know I could never have come up with most of them on my own. This self awareness exercise can be repeated hundreds of times a day for as many days as is needed to create its own neural pathway, to become a part of who you are. Once you have mastered that layer, you are ready to tune into the next then the next and before you know it you will be enjoying your life more, accomplishing more things than you ever dreamed possible. As always, have fun with it because remember, life is only hard until it isn’t — you decide. Live Well … Have Fun!

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