Written by Paul Penner Tuesday, 25 November 2008 13:57
Every day, I face distractions that try to keep me from what I want to accomplish. Can you relate to that?
Imagine rushing through morning chores to make an important meeting in another city, and receiving an unexpected phone call informing you that the shipment you ordered will be arriving within the hour and must be unloaded immediately. I would classify that as a major distraction.
According to the meaning provided by Wikipedia, a distraction is “the diversion of attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention onto the source of distraction.
“Distraction is caused by one of the following: lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; greater interest in something other than 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 (physical stimuli through the five senses), or internal sources (thought, emotion, fantasies, physical urges).
“Divided attention, as in multi-tasking, could also be considered as distraction in situations requiring full attention on a single object (e.g., sports, academic tests, performance).”
Wikipedia’s explanation of distraction is quite thorough. However, I began to lose interest when I read the part about having greater interest in something else. I initiated another search on the Web for other material on this topic.
Who said men aren’t good at multi-tasking?
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the word “distract” this way: “to turn aside: Divert. To stir up to confuse with conflicting emotions or motives.”
I like that definition. It’s short and less distracting.
Men are easily distracted. Think of this scenario as evidence, men: You are watching a football game on television at home, your team is four points behind on fourth-and-goal with two seconds to play in the game; try listening to your spouse while she recites a litany of crises involving babies and smelly diapers. Not to mention, a small herd of bugs and creepy, crawly things are coming out of the cabinets and freaking her out. Meanwhile, the pet is having an “accident” on the new living room carpet.
You really want to be there for the mother of your children, the love of your life. And yet, those two seconds of that ballgame cry out for attention!
You turn away from the television for a second to calm her down. In the meantime, the quarterback hands off to the running back and he dives into the end zone.
“Oh! I missed it!” you utter in frustration. “Couldn’t you have waited a few seconds longer to tell me about your day?”
OK. That was an extreme example. One’s spouse is more important than a silly ballgame on television, and men would never treat their wives that way, right? Yeah, we men know the real answer to that one.
That’s not to say all distractions are bad. Some are healthy and beneficial. Who doesn’t appreciate taking time out from an intense focus on a difficult problem to enjoy a favorite beverage or leisurely activity?A short break can do wonders on one's ability to gain a better perspective on the task at hand.
On the other hand, some healthy distractions may become harmful if not carefully controlled or managed.
Sports fit into this category. Generally, sports is not bad or harmful on its own, but when we overemphasize secondary and collegiate sports programs, combined with the pressure to win at all costs, sports detracts from its primary educational function.
Unfortunately, parents encourage this overemphasis in the early years of their children. If one doubts this, I recommend reserving a weekend or more to do a little “parent watching” when T-ball season begins next spring, or when the summer youth basketball season begins.
Another area where otherwise good activity has the potential to become an unhealthy distraction is religious activity. That’s not to say that successfully managing church-related programs, teaching or serving on committees is not a good thing. In fact, our community would benefit even more if more people practiced during the week what they profess on Sundays.
Religious activity becomes an unhealthy distraction when the primary focus centers on the activity in the church and not on the Creator who deserves our adoration and devotion. Every breath we take gives life to our bodies. Without God’s power, grace and mercy, we would cease to exist. Does that not motivate us to want to know who God is and why he loves us so much?
Back to the football game and the men that love to watch it. It’s a matter of knowing what’s really important and what we choose to make important in our lives. Though watching someone engaging in sports activity is not proven to be a healthy exercise, engaging in physically demanding activity is.
Religious activity may generally be healthy as well. The distraction begins, however, when we make those activities our primary focus. We lose the opportunity to teach our children the best way to focus on the truly important matters in life that brings greater happiness and fulfillment than anything else.
May you have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!