THE BLOG
01/11/2013 11:22 am ET Updated Mar 13, 2013

What Is All This Distraction Doing to Our Brains?

It is important for us to realize what too much multitasking can do to our brains, like reducing our intelligence, dropping our IQ, and causing us to make more mistakes. Some interesting brain research from Your Brain at Work by David Rock tells us that to focus more effectively, we must retrain our mind for uninterrupted concentration.

The most unique and amazing skill of the human brain is our ability to focus on a problem long enough to solve it. Sitting around cruising the Internet or texting all day long is not good for our brains. We lose our ability to focus for any length of time by seeking out constant distraction, even if it feels good at the time.

When we multitask endlessly, our brain circuits devoted to deeper thought or concentration are not getting developed, according to Rock's work. The results of this behavior will become ever clearer as the brains of the next generation develop.

After reading that brain research yesterday and then writing a post, I spent some time observing my own thought patterns. I found that even when I was not distracted by any outside diversions like other people, television or the Internet, I still lacked overall mind discipline, especially when it came to remaining in the present.

Even when I tried to focus on the present moment, my mind kept naturally straying back to some time in my past or worrying about something in my future. It was then I realized my daily mantra must be: "Be here now." I even began saying those words to myself out loud to help me concentrate on the present, but it was not easy. The thought occurred that I would like to begin to exercise my mind, much like exercise for the body, to discipline my mind to remain in the present for longer and longer periods of time.

The mystery for me is that I find my present life to be peaceful and soothing, with few big worries, so why would I "choose" to distract myself with bad memories from my past or future potential problems? Why would I focus on that? Why does my mind seem to naturally seek out problems rather than soothe itself? Can I train it to focus more readily on more positive, creative endeavors?

This is my future quest then, to soothe my own mind with a new "be here now" attitude, focused more on gratitude for the present, and cut down on the many silly distractions I face daily.

For more by Laura Lee Carter, click here.

For more on unitasking, click here.

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