Oh, sorry, did I distract you? Were you doing something important? Listening to music? Watching an absorbing TV show? Talking to a friend? Meditating?
Please, excuse me and go right on with what you were doing. Unless . . . . .
Perhaps you were anxious about being at loose ends. Feeling depressed. Experiencing physical pain.
If “Yes” is the answer to any of the last three, then please welcome the distraction!
“Why should I welcome it?” you ask. Because distraction from anxiety, depression, and physical pain is a very good thing. Science1 and experience tell us so.
Consciously or unconsciously, we are always making choices on how we focus attention. Is it on work at hand or a pleasant diversion? Is it on the pain or immediate concern that is blocking everything else out? Is it on what we feel we should do rather than what we want to do?
Finding a cause that provides a space to develop our own interests, contacts, and awareness of our own potential for “world-fixing” leaves less time for focusing on negative aspects of life. Becoming one of the “fixers” can yield results that range from alleviation of anxiety, depression, and awareness of physical pain to making them actually go away.
When aging brings inevitable changes that challenge us physically and emotionally, engaging in efforts to bring positive change is always a “win-win.”
1Jane McGonigal, SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2015).