Livingstone here. When I set out to write this blog entry, I changed the topic a couple of times. Not because I was indecisive, but because I was trying to figure out what was most important to me. When you blog at this level without many people around, you tend to think of yourself first.
But I came to something universal and that is being distracted. Happens to all of us, me included. it used to be much worse, but I have found some Masonic elements that have helped me cope and even thrive as someone who gets distracted easily.
Distraction is the divided attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention onto the source of distraction. Distraction is caused by: the lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; or the great intensity, novelty or attractiveness of something other than the object of attention. Distractions come from both external sources, and internal sources.
As you are noticing, I like to quote exactly what the scientific/dictionary definition of something before I discuss it. You would be surprised how much noise is created just by colloquial terminology modifying the existing nature of a word.
So how does Masonry help with being distracted? In several ways.
Masonry is an education system that also heavily intertwines God in it’s learning and teaching system. For most of you, this is a bewildering concept. And it’s a concept that will gets it’s time in a blog entry. But what masonry does, in an intelligent way, is use the power of God in us to make change in powerful and fundamental ways.
It is no secret that religion and the belief of God can move you. You’ll see me say this often but it bears repeating, every single time. Now the big question is, what is the education?
One the the first things you learn in Masonry is to subdue your passions. It’s a very open ended statement without clarifications. Some people will be annoyed by this. Don’t be! Be freed by this. This is up to your interpretation and only yours. Because all the brothers in Masonry are on the level with each other and no one is father, this judgement is entirely up to you.
So how does “subduing your passions” then relate to distractions? Because we have MANY passions in life. They are all over our room. They are around us at work. Ask yourself, do you ever get distracted by something you don’t care about? The answer…is no. Of course not. Passions are things you care about. And not just care about, but REALLY care about. Maybe to the point where the thing you are passionate abut controls you as opposed to you controlling it. In my book, that is what passion means.
So essentially what Masonry is saying, keep the things around you that control you to a minimum. Subdue them. Take control of yourself! You are a person of character and merit. You were put on this earth by God. You are not prisoner of the world but someone who will change the world! What I have learned in an environment of learning and building, that I must switch myself. I must must re-wire countless centuries of cultural and social conditioning to become someone who will “build” the world. Easier said then done. Let’s continue on.
Since this charge has been put on me, I now feel like I have a purpose to reach it. There is great value in charging someone to change and grow. It makes the problem something you can fight. Instead of a shadow that can stay just out of your eyesight, it becomes a manifestation of something larger that you can now see and now engage.
Being distraction is something that you must face, head on. I am charging you now. You, as one of the select few out of this world who are reading this, must subdue your passions. Take control of yourself. And you can and you will. Make this vice of yours real. When it becomes real, you can finally destroy it.
1. Find ways to keep your energy levels at a nice and healthy medium. Not too low where you lose focus and can’t stay engaged, but not too high where you frantically are hacking away at something and missing things. Drink tea, coffee, energy drinks, and take naps at key and targeted times. Sneak away to nap in your car if you need to. Keep your levels as close to zero as possible. Not above or below.
2. What thoughts are getting into your head? Ask yourself? There are things that get your angry. Or make you depressed. Or whatever. Get them out. Easier said then done. How?
3. Cut information out of your life. All those news article, pop psychology stories, and even cat photos need to go. Your brain needs to be brought to zero. Starve it of information that not just triggers your emotional response, but ANY type of response. Clean it out. Now some of you may work in the arts or news and feel that you’re hamstrung. My response. “Subdue your passions”. It is open to interpretation. Instead of waiting for someone to dictate the answers to you so you can thoughtlessly follow, take command and think through the best way to approach this. Be your own general and take a long hard look at what is acceptable and what isn’t. If it doesn’t have a strong reason for staying, cut it out. This also applies to posters on walls, trinkets, keychain dodads, etc. Stimuli no more. Now you may be thinking “Hey Livingstone, you’re robbing me of my identity! How will I stand out now and let people know who I am through the different things in my life!?”. Think this statement through for a moment? Do you really need these icons and other elements to let people know who you are? Or do you think your character, personality, worth ethic and the things you do will show that? Again, this is up to your interpretation for the extent you want to go.
4. Only do things that are relevant to your life. What can you live without? What can you subdue in your life? What are the superfluous elements of it? Ask yourself, and then take charge and fix them. God is watching you and God wants you to succeed. You can do it.
5. Google ways to cure distraction. There are a million of them on the internet. Your work is going to take time. A building isn’t built in one day. And imagine your mind is a building, like how we Masons will sometimes envision our minds. And building your mind isn’t going to take a day either. So calmly and clearly put your head down and just keep working at it. And map out a blueprint beforehand of how you’ll do it. To just haphazardly construct something will eventually make a structure that just falls apart.
So these are my Masonic self-improvement tips for today. I hope this helps and I hope your life is more robust and rewarding for it.