The Distraction

There are apparently books written about how to form habits, how to break habits, how to do things smarter, and so on, but I have yet to see anyone connect the dots between habits, efficiency, and life. Not just life as in a pleasant or interesting existence, but life as in the limited time we have on this earth. That clock that starts counting down from it’s first tick to your last breath. That’s the life that we need to connect to these habits that we unwittingly adopt in our lives as we try to figure things out.

Some consciously form habits out of mundane tasks to reduce the mundanity, while others do so out of compulsion in their desire for order or routine, or more accurately, predictability. Neither appeals to me. For me, my habits are constantly evolving because doing the same thing in the same way for any extended period of time gnaws at my sub-conscious forcing me to wonder if I’m beginning to stagnate or not. For me, establishing routine or forming a habit lasts only as long as it takes me to find an easier or less complicated way to do it. In other words, I’m lazy.

I’m too lazy to do in five steps what I can do in two steps. This is what I believe drives me to want to create order out of chaos, or to want to introduce efficiencies even in places where good enough is good enough. While it is tiring at times to find myself constantly distracted by wasteful efforts, I’ve recently realised that the more efficiency I create in the unavoidable mundane activities, the more life I have available for growth, or experiencing new indulgences, and so much more. And that is the connection that I believe we miss.

We miss the point of how much life we’re wasting while taking the time and effort to do in five steps what could be done in two. Sure, if  there are other joys or benefits obtained from the long winded approach while achieving the outcome, then find six steps to do something that would take two. I guess I do that when I go on holiday. I’d much rather take the scenic route than to get there as quickly as possible. However, the peace and tranquility, and the beauty that I am able to enjoy when I take that scenic route is what makes my appreciation of the destination that much more enduring.

So perhaps that is really the point that I’ve been trying to articulate. I guess it ties in with being purposeful in everything that you do. If there is no purpose, then you’re on auto-pilot and you may as well cash in your chips instead of stealing oxygen that could be put to better use by someone else. Of course such a callous view is easily dismissed at the thought of your mundane routine providing others with comfort in the predictability that you bring into their lives. The sceptic in me screams blue murder at the thought of it because I’m loathe to believe that such predictability is truly comforting. It’s limiting, maybe assuring, or possibly even remotely encouraging or aspirational, but certainly not inspiring. Damn, I guess even that point could be dismissed by the fact that sometimes the negative outlooks of others inspire us to be the opposite.

So I guess we are the vicious cycle, aren’t we? Every annoying habit, every curious quirk, and every inspired moment feeds the cycle that feeds itself, and in turn feeds our curiosity or complacency. That’s all good at a macro level, but hardly encouraging at an individual level because it implies that the stagnation of some is necessary to inspire others. I would hate to realise later in life that my inspiration stemmed from those that achieved too little rather than from those that achieved much. I would therefore rather be distracted by the aspirational sights rather than the depressing ones.

Alas, it seems that even in contemplating these distractions I have been distracted from the point of this post to begin with. The point I set out to make is simply this. If we pursue life aggressively in the desire to want to live as much of it as possible, we’ll probably find ourselves reducing the effort and energy expensed against the necessary, while our pursuit of efficiency and the elimination of redundancy in everything we do will become the focus of our life which in turn will spawn benefits for those around us in ways we never considered. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma associated with a restless soul because the complacent and lethargic nature of the masses finds itself at odds with such an existence.

With that in mind, I choose to be anomalous. I choose to be the anomaly that distracts others enough to make them question what may be wrong with me, which inevitably leads to them contemplating what is truly right with them. (This post still seems to fail at making a meaningful point.)

Zaid Ismail

Author, life coach, and mental health activist. We need to change the narrative from disorders, illnesses, and survival to accountability, understanding, and thriving.

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