Getting Prolific, Day 17: How to Forget

How do you prevent the psychological fires from even starting?

Multiple people have told me recently that if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.

My response to this is:

Well, then stop paying attention. Look less. Invest your energy elsewhere. Just because this world is a parade of horrors doesn’t mean you have to jump in and start twirling a baton. You can maintain a serene distance from the majority of life’s commotion if you learn to strengthen your blocking mechanism.

Doing so is easier than you think, but rarer than you realize.

As an example, did you know the average smartphone user receives close to fifty app push notifications per day?

Every one of those pop ups can deactivated with the push of a button. Takes five seconds. You could never get another one again if you really wanted to.

Now, setting this boundary isn’t difficult from a technical perspective. But the problem is, people’s fear missing out is too strong. Because something important might happen.

By not checking your device before going to bed, in the middle of the night, or the moment you wake up, major shit will have done down, the world will pass you by and leave your rotting carcass to die alone.

It’s funny, there’s an entire merchandising line dedicate to this very sentiment. You can now buy shirts, mugs, posters and other high quality products printed with the phrase:

If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.

Terrific. Now you can announce to the world that you have unhealthy boundaries and make unwise emotional investments. Definitely something worth bragging about.

Listen, our attention is the scarcest resource we have. It’s nonrenewable, and we are throwing it away like toilet paper.

If you’re feeling caught in the machinery of the world’s maladies, try strengthening your blocking mechanism.

Look less, forget more, try softer, ignore better.

Remember, it’s called paying attention because there is a price for doing so. It costs you something every time you dole out a parcel of your energy. There are so many pointless little things that take up more psychic space than they should.

And so, it may be time to admit that you can’t afford to look at some of the things you used to. Consider that an acceptable loss. Say goodbye to old attentional investments like the clothes that no longer fit and move on with your life.

Another helpful tip is writing the following question on a sticky note and keeping it in a visible location:

Will you definitely use this information for something immediate and important?

Most of the time, the answer is no. If there were ever one universal disqualifying filter, this question would be it.

Getting in the habit of considering the possibility that you’re about to make the wrong emotional investment is a skill that serves you in every area of life.

As my therapist once told me about managing anxiety, nip the distraction in the bud, head it off at the pass and kill that monster while it’s still a baby.

You’ll prevent most of the psychological fires from even starting in the first place.

With practice, once you’ve strengthened your blocking mechanism, you’ll be astounded at just how many reserves of energy remain.

Those resources can be freed up for more life giving purposes like creating things.

Do you respect your mind enough to know that almost everything is a distraction?

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Author. Speaker. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. CEO/Founder of getprolific.io. Pioneer of Personal Creativity Management (PCM). I also wear a nametag 24/7.