A couple of months back, the New York Times ran a series of articles with the above title – all about the manner in which road accidents are almost invariably the result of a loss of focus or, in plain English, not paying attention. Again, I notice that Loughborough University in the UK has recently published research that indicates the extent to which we are distracted from what we are supposed to be doing by the modern phenomena of texts and emails. The research indicates that the vast majority of emails are replied to immediately – often within six seconds. Experts suggest that these distractive influences have become almost a modern obsession that can degenerate into pathological ongoing distraction.

What were you supposed to be doing when you were interrupted by that text or email? How important is the text or email that you’ve just received? Does it directly relate to what you’re paid to be doing? Does it have anything to do with your top priorities in life? Do you even know what you’re top priorities are? This is the muddle-headed behaviour that has normal people wandering aimlessly from one day to the next – wondering why life isn’t absolutely great. I’ve news for you, life will never be great until you do all the important things that you have to do each day – and completely ignore the distractions that are getting in your way. You’re wasting your time, wasting your precious energy, throwing your life away. But hey, no worries, it’s normal, everybody’s doing it.

I’ve more news for you – everybody’s mad – and I’ve studied the research that proves it. Nearly eight decades of psychological research proves that people are unable to focus on what they’re doing, unable to pay attention to what is actually going on, doing their routine tasks habitually and mindlessly, going through the motions when it comes to what we call living. Constant distraction, inability to take the actions that will make your life better, inability to even appreciate and experience the here and now – that’s not living, it just about qualifies as existing.

Unfortunately, the research that I have already mentioned, together with a vast body of work stretching all the way back to 1936, proves that we are built to be distracted – why God alone knows! – but we play host to up to 50,000 random thoughts each day. Many of these thoughts are no more than stupid distractions. However, many – including those that we’re not particularly aware of because they arise from the depths of our subconscious mind – are toxic, defeatist or, worse, downright self-destructive. Indeed, research shows that the normal adult when left in a room with nothing to amuse them, will degenerate into a jabbering heap of negative distraction within a twelve or thirteen hours. Not only are we built for distraction, we are built to err on the negative side of distraction. This negative mindless state of mind is, unfortunately, our default setting – the normal mind is no better than a virus-ridden hard disk. Many, or perhaps most, of these viruses infected our system during our childhood years – when we were young and impressionable, when we open-mindedly took on board all manner of nonsense that was foisted upon us by our normal parents, our peers and society at large – work hard to be a success (rubbish), you’ve got to better yourself (no you don’t, the inner you is pure perfect energy), life is full of ups and downs (yes, but you don’t have to go up or down with them). And now, years later, not only are you still subconsciously listening to all that crap – you’re being bombarded by texts and emails and actually enjoying not doing the things that might make your life better.

For the good of your own life and what it could truly be, you’re going to have to learn how to pay attention – not in a general sense but in a very particular sense. You’ve got to pay attention to now – it’s the time and place where the real world is, the only time and place where life can be fully lived. You’ve got to train your mind to become single-mindedly focused on the task in hand, whatever that task might be. This simply means seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting what’s actually currently going on, whether you’re doing a job that you don’t like (a useless distractive thought), playing with your kids, playing golf or simply sitting watching the world go by. As you “come to your senses” you will be able to recognize a distraction for what it is, recognize what is truly important and what most importantly should be done. In paying attention, you will be properly equipped to just do what needs doing and, in doing so, realize that you alone are the one who can take real action to change your life. Your personal effectiveness, your success, your life are in your own hands – grab a hold.

Author's Bio: 

Willie Horton has been enabling his clients live their dream since he launched is now acclaimed two-day Personal Development Seminars all the way back in 1996. His clients include top leaders in major corporations such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Merrill Lynch, Wyeth, KPMG, G4S and Allergan together with everyone from the stay-at-home parent to sports-people. An Irish ex-banker and ex-accountant, he lives in the French Alps from where he travels the world as a much sought after motivational speaker and mentor. In 2008 he launched Gurdy.Net where is self-help seminars are now online. For more information visit Willie Horton’s Personal Development Website Gurdy.Net