the illusion of control: distraction and the attention economy

When faced with challenging tasks or moments of boredom, we find solace in distractions. The relief we feel when turning to our phones or other diversions indicates that we are not merely passive victims, but active participants in this process. This raises an important question: Why do we find it so unpleasant to engage in activities we care about, to the point of seeking distractions?

In today’s fast-paced world, distractions are everywhere, and our ability to focus is constantly being challenged. The way we perceive and discuss distraction, especially digital distraction, has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. What was once considered a personal issue of willpower is now understood as part of a larger, more complex system driven by the attention economy.

The attention economy thrives on capturing and holding our focus, exploiting our attention as a valuable resource. With a vast global industry dedicated to distracting us, it’s no wonder that our personal efforts to resist often feel futile. However, the narrative that pits individuals against nefarious external forces oversimplifies the issue and neglects a crucial aspect of our experience with distraction: we willingly surrender to it.

When faced with challenging tasks or moments of boredom, we find solace in distractions. The relief we feel when turning to our phones or other diversions indicates that we are not merely passive victims, but active participants in this process. This raises an important question: Why do we find it so unpleasant to engage in activities we care about, to the point of seeking distractions?

The answer lies in our desire to escape unsettling emotional experiences, often rooted in our limitations as humans. Meaningful work pushes our boundaries, difficult conversations are unpredictable, and boredom arises when we cannot change our current situation. In these moments, our inner voice tempts us to seek distraction as a means of escape from discomfort or uncertainty.

Moreover, the very design of popular apps and websites capitalizes on our cognitive biases and vulnerabilities. Features such as infinite scrolling, push notifications, and autoplay videos exploit our tendency to seek immediate gratification and novelty. As a result, we find ourselves in a constant battle for control over our attention, with the odds often stacked against us.

Most anti-distraction strategies, such as web-blocking apps and personal rules, fail to address the root cause of our discomfort. They focus on denying access to distractions rather than dealing with the emotional unease that drives us to seek them in the first place. While these tools can provide temporary relief, they do not offer a lasting solution to the problem.

To truly overcome distraction, we must first acknowledge and accept that hard, important, and meaningful tasks often come with a certain level of discomfort. Mild feelings of challenge, frustration, or boredom are not necessarily signs of failure, but rather natural parts of the process. By embracing these emotions, we can develop the resilience needed to stay focused on what truly matters.

One approach to cultivating this resilience is through mindfulness practice. Mindfulness encourages us to observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment, allowing us to better understand our patterns of behavior and respond more skillfully to distractions. By cultivating a more compassionate and curious attitude towards our inner experiences, we can learn to tolerate discomfort and resist the urge to seek escape through distraction.

Another important aspect of managing distraction is creating a supportive environment that fosters focus. This may involve setting clear boundaries around our use of technology, such as designating specific times for checking email or browsing social media. Additionally, organizing our physical workspace to minimize distractions and creating a routine that promotes focus can help us stay on track.

Lastly, it’s essential to prioritize self-care and ensure that we are meeting our basic needs for rest, nutrition, and connection. When we are physically and emotionally depleted, we are more vulnerable to distraction and less capable of maintaining focus. By taking care of ourselves, we can build the mental and emotional reserves needed to navigate the challenges of a distracted world.

In conclusion, understanding the complex nature of distraction and our role in it is crucial for developing effective strategies to maintain focus. By acknowledging the limits of our willpower, addressing the emotional unease that drives us to seek distraction, and cultivating resilience through mindfulness and self-care, we can better navigate the attention economy and stay focused on what truly matters.

the hibiscus whisper.

In the dappled sunlight of my office’s garden, a hibiscus flower captures the essence of life’s fleeting moments. Each morning, it unfurls its petals in a vibrant display of ephemeral beauty, a poignant reminder of the transient nature of existence.

Have you ever stopped to admire a hibiscus? Its broad petals boast a palette of blushing pink, while the center—a bold splash of crimson—holds a stamen that stretches outward, dusted with the gold of pollen. This majestic display is a magical artwork, yet, it’s destined to last for just a brief spell. The hibiscus blooms mightily for a day, maybe two, and then, with a grace that speaks volumes, they close their petals, and their time is over.

This natural cycle of the hibiscus is a mirror to our own lives. Like the flower’s brief day in the sun, we too have our moment—fleeting and precious. But in the hustle of everyday life, amidst the digital whirlpool of notifications and distractions, do we remember to embrace the limitedness of our existence?

Think of the last time you truly felt that you lived in the present. When was it? No matter at home or office. Think broadly over let’s say a span of last six months of your life. Can you recall the sensation of being utterly immersed in the now, without a thought for the past or the future? That’s what the hibiscus does every day. It does not lament the setting of the sun; it simply blooms with all its might, here, in the present.

Our resistance to life’s impermanence often manifests as suffering. We wish to hold on to things, to people, to moments, willing them to remain constant. But everything changes. The child grows and leaves the nest. The mirror reflects a version of ourselves that has evolved with time. Work brings challenges that test our sense of capability. When plans go awry, we feel the strain of unpredictability.

Yet, what if we drew inspiration from the hibiscus and its acceptance of the cycle of life? What if we saw the beauty in the passage of time, in the evolution of our lives? Could we not then appreciate the present with a more profound sense of joy and gratitude?

Embrace the lessons of the hibiscus. Let it teach you to cherish the moments you have. When you feel the weight of change, remember the flower’s effortless embrace of life’s rhythm. Consider the possibility that the very impermanence we fear is what lends beauty to our existence.

As you walk by a hibiscus, or any flower that catches your eye, allow yourself a moment to pause. Observe its beauty, knowing that it is here for just a short while. Let this knowledge not sadden you, but awaken you to the richness of the present. Like the hibiscus, may we too learn to make our days count, to fill them with life, to bloom where we are planted.

In the end, the hibiscus doesn’t just teach us about impermanence—it reveals the art of living. By accepting the transient, we can find true peace. By living in the moment, we can discover genuine happiness. Let the hibiscus’s tale be a gentle whisper to your soul: live fully, love deeply, and embrace the fleeting wonder of now.

timeless touch

As I sit here holding my baby’s tiny hand in mine, I am struck by the realization of just how fast time passes. It seems like just yesterday that this little hand was gripping my finger just sometime after his delivery, and now it is already so much bigger.

timeless touch – Original photography and edit: The Border Of a Mind Studios

But it’s not just my baby’s hands that are growing so quickly. It seems that every moment of every day, my child is changing and developing in some way. From the first tentative steps to the first words spoken, each milestone is a reminder of how quickly time is passing.

As I hold my baby’s hand and look into those bright, curious eyes, I can’t help but wonder about all the experiences and adventures that lie ahead. What will this little person grow up to be? What will they achieve and accomplish in their lifetime?

So as I hold my baby’s hand and marvel at how fast they are growing, I am also filled with a sense of determination to make the most of every moment and to cherish every precious stage of their development. For as fleeting as these moments may be, they are the building blocks of a lifetime filled with love, growth, and discovery.

Wish you a happy and fulfilling year. Let’s value moments more.

“Koko”

My son has nicknamed the robot “koko”

As I watched my little son play with our cleaning robot, affectionately nicknamed by him as “Koko,” I was struck by the intense curiosity in his eyes. He was fascinated by the way the machine moved and how it was able to pick up dirt and debris from our floors.

It occurred to me that this innate curiosity is a reflection of the human spirit and our constant desire to improve the world around us. From the earliest days of human civilization, we have sought ways to make our lives easier and more efficient. We have harnessed the power of technology to perform mundane tasks, to communicate with one another, and to explore the world.

But it’s not just the practicality of these innovations that inspires us. It’s the philosophy behind them. The belief that with hard work and determination, we can create a better world for ourselves and future generations.

As I watched my son play with his “Koko“, I was reminded of the importance of this philosophy. It’s the driving force behind every technological advancement, from the wheel to the smartphone. And it’s the reason we will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, seeking new ways to improve the quality of life for ourselves and those around us.

keep going

Sometimes it feels that nothing remarkable is occurring in your life, while the rest of the world appears to be on a perpetual vacation in beautiful, unusual, foreign places. So you go about your life, day after day, week after week, month after month, with the same sense of inadequacy and ordinariness.
But I implore you to keep going, whatever, face each day front on, silently, acceptingly, calmly, and occasionally, suddenly, unexpectedly, and miraculously, something good will happen, making all the dismal days seem absolutely okay.

From an early morning stroll

unfathomable

Life is very brief than we think. Living our best life does not simply imply traveling and acquiring expensive goods. It also means living up to our potential, which means doing the things we want to do someday now rather than putting them off for later, taking chances, taking risks, appreciating what we have, surrounding ourself with people who bring out the best in us, discovering new things about ourself, and doing what makes us happy every single day. Living our greatest life is subjective; we all have various definitions, but ultimately, it is about attaining new levels of self-growth and falling in love with life in full awareness that the life is transitory in nature and we won’t be here for long. How do you want to be remembered?

intangible sway

You may believe you have no influence in this world. Yet, someone hears a tune on the radio that makes them think of you. Someone has been lost in the pages of a book you suggested to them. Someone on the bus recalled a joke you told them and giggled to themselves. Someone put on a shirt and felt stunning because you complemented it. Someone has a recollection of you that makes them smile. Someone is sipping a drink from a cup that you gifted them with. Someone now loves themselves even more since you made a casual remark that made them feel wonderful. Never underestimate your effect; your fingerprints can’t be removed from the little acts of kindness you’ve left behind.

Holding Ehan’s hands on a calm morning of the weekend | theborderofamind.com

gradualist gains

I’ve always experienced and perceived that organic and holistic growth is always incremental and gradual instead of a sporadic leap. Incremental, constant progress over a long time frame is the recipe for the mastery of a craft, purposeful, fulfilling education, powerful aquisition of skill sets, learning something totally new (like learning a language, for example), etc. Small successes aggregate to produce massive change over time. Although the outcomes may not be spectacular right away, they will be long-lasting. And the accumulation of multiple modest gains is sometimes as potent, if not more powerful, than efforts to make large jumps. The same is true for personal change. People who make a difference always begin slowly, one person at a time. It is not completed entirely at once. It’s done gradually.

“And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world. “

– Beth Clark

place in the world

My mind these days typically revolve around the lil one and the experiences to be kindled. If he’s the earth, I’m the satellite of moon around him. Often as we grow older, the beautiful soul of a child with fierce demeanor and curiosity to explore dwindle away in the chaotic flood of normalcy, notions and routines. The round pegs in the square holes are always cast away. Curiosity is the arsenal of discovery and learning. Rose Wilder Lane once told that curiosity is the hunger of the human mind. In my vision of this initiative, I had expounded that one of the salient aspects of this corpus of writings has always been to kindle this childish curiosity we are born with. As I pen these words, that’s telling that I yearn for that inquisitiveness. I’m writing and working on art to keep the fire and flame afloat. Boundless curiosity and open minds are doors to a sea of depth, broadness and reason. One way of staying alive is to ensure that this is not being robbed off our souls. God bless.

Ehan pondering on the aquatic universe | principal photography & styling: theborderofamind.com

.. “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”

Mae Jemison

encrust

Encrust | Video

23 Apr 2022 – Time flies. It’s been one year. The little one who used to lie down with a smile on the craddle is now crawling and moving around. The year that passed has been one of trials and the little one really has been a hope, direction and solace for us. The clock of one year came about fast as we count the little milestones and look at awe on how he’s exploring the world around him. I fondly remember the day when I held him near the window and he was wrapped in a blanket sleeping most of the time and with ocassionaly priceless teethless smiles and glances and the lovely fossette on his cheeks when he smiles. So much development is packed into the last year as I write this. Ehan is now tinkering and exploring the details of the toys around at a much more deeper level now. He’s much more attentive towards the birds at the balcony. His little teeths are propping up. His little brain inside his fluffly hair is growing and his personality and emotions are slowly taking shape. With the will of God, as he grows up and blossom, and we celebrate each momentous milestone in awe and gratitude, this note would serve as a memory of my thoughts in this transitory phase. We love you, Ehan. Ever grateful to Almighty for all the blessings. Thank you Just Bakes by Parvathy Gosh for the beautiful artistic cake.

Encrust