Learning how to deal with daily distractions is essential to success.
Sun Tzu once said: “All warfare is based on distraction.” This quote is not only meant for war; it is meant for daily life. We must be ready to combat the warfare of our days with action. How do we do this? We learn to distract ourselves from the negative and to focus on the positive. When you focus on the positive, you are better off when a bad day comes. This is not without error; there is a flaw to this equation, and here is why.
When we distract ourselves from something negative, we let it trap itself in the subconscious. There is a concept called: “euphoric recall,” which is a term heard most at rehabilitation centers. The concept is this: when a drug addict recalls all of the good about a situation and never the bad (such as remembering how good the high felt but forgetting eating out of the dumpster or living on the street), the brain is doing this to protect us from trauma. The brain does this for us: it allows us to forget the negative to avoid negative consequences. If you think of nothing but the bad, your brain’s synapses will alter, and before long you are scarred for life.
So how do we distract ourselves without causing a mechanism of subconscious harm? We must begin to realize that we have to distract ourselves rather than choose to forget. There is a big difference. When you distract yourself from something negative, you are able to recall it later on without harm. If you choose to forget it, you will cause trauma on a very deep level, and that is dangerous to both yourself and to others, often leading to Post-Traumatic Stress. The following will give you some input.
Step 1: Remember It!
Step 1 is choosing to remember the action or scenario in question. If someone angrily honks their horn at you on a day that has already been horrible, do not act against it. Rather, take a mental picture, then do something to distract yourself from the situation. Turn on the radio, start singing, hum, whistle…anything that will take your mind off of the situation will gradually tune out the anger of that person, and in turn, the anger in you for being victimized will dissipate. This is Step 1.
Step 2: Recall & Smile
Step 2 is to recall it later on. Give yourself two hours before you recall the event. This is enough time to negate your emotional charge and be able to remember the instance at a point when you are at home, maybe relaxing. Think about the moment, and smile. When you smile, your body recognizes this! It sees that you are displaying an act of happiness, and automatically your emotions will change (see this blog entry for more info on smiling for well-being). This, in turn, will let that negative event become associated with something happy, or something less negative.
Step 3: Pivot & Change
Do this for 10 days. Distract yourself from every negative moment in your life, but choose to remember it 2 hours later, or when you are in a comfortable place – at home, in your office, etc. Now, smile or laugh (both work) and begin to think about how silly that scenario truly was. Most of our daily hassles are essentially based on stress that has no real purpose. Next, pivot and change: think about how you would deal with that situation positively next time it happens. Chances are, you will face a similar situation at some point in your life. By using this sense of behavioral modification, the next event will instead cause you to feel happy because your mind has adjusted to associating negative events with a smile!
Behavioral modification is a sector of work I specialize in. What it comes down to is, learning that the human being is a programmable creature and can be trained – even in the event of emotions. When you want to feel happy, associate moments when you are already happy with an action. A smile is best because we all love to smile. When you feel you are having a bad day, simply recall a happy event and smile for 2 minutes. Look at yourself in a mirror while doing so. The body and brain will begin to sync and before long, every smile you make will cause a positive shift!