Stopping the Flywheel Mind

Earlier this year, I wrote a post called Endless DistractionI detailed how I was in the habit of always checking or reaching for my phone. I also touched upon how these mindless (or programmed) activities take us out of the moment (put away the phone when you are in the presence of your children). A little later, I wrote a post, Too Busy to Arouse Your Soul, in which we offered a couple of suggestions to get out from under the weight of the too busy mindset.

 

Today is a slightly different spin on those earlier posts. Not too much has changed for me personally since I wrote those. However, I am in much more control of the impulses that drive my phone use. This post is an examination of the current state of my mind. See, I still have too much to do. I am still strongly drawn to checking my phone for texts, emails, news, and whatever social media apps I use.

 

I have observed an unsettling pattern of late. My brain will not stop racing. It is always on the go…to the next thought, next worry, next thing to do, or the next problem to solve. There is little to no stillness even when I have no external distractions. Let me unpack this a little bit. My mind seems to be in a holding pattern of unrest. I have gone so long now in trying to get everything done that my mind is always seeking or moving to the next thing. It is much like a flywheel continuing with its own crazy momentum. I seemed to have taught it to be this way, and now I aim to stop it in its tracks!

 

It stinks, and here are some symptoms that you may share the flywheel mind:

 

  • Does your mind endlessly loop on a worry?
  • Do you have trouble thinking one thought through to its completion without jumping to something new?
  • Are you quick to self-judgment as you remember things you have missed or recognize an expectation you did not meet?
  • Do you feel like your mind is going to crack if one more thing gets thrown your way?
  • Do you ever think, “once I get all of this done, then I can relax and be happy”?

Well, here is how I am personally going to slow down and stop my flywheel mind. Over the next thirty days, I will follow these two approaches to get back to sanity:

  1. Meditation. For at least 10 minutes a day, I will sit in stillness with no external distractions. 10 minutes might not seem like a lot, but science supports that this is a great starting point to quiet the mind.
  2. No more multitasking. I will make a tremendous conscious effort only to do one thing at a time. All of my focus will be centered on my current task. When distracted, I will recenter around my chosen task. Multitasking trains the mind to be habitually unfocused. Dr. Travis Bradberry said this about it:

“Focus on one thing at a time. Focusing completely on a single task is a big risk—the risk of failing at something to which you’ve given your all. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable. The alternative—multitasking—is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully. When you spread yourself too thin and chase after every bright, shiny thing that catches your eye, you’re missing out on an important opportunity for personal growth.” To read the full posting click here.

In thirty days I will report back with how my experiment worked. Hopefully I will have retrained my mind how to rest, focus, and be at peace.

Peace of mind is a habit and more valuable than my worried to-do list. It is ok to stop racing….there is no finish line to cross. Peace is the way.

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Ben White via Unsplash

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