For about a year now, I’ve tried quitting. Quitting is great, I’ve become quite good at it.
I’ve quit things like gluten, meat, processed food, data plan on my phone, hot showers, TV & other things. The great thing about quitting is that it gives you a new perspective on your everyday life.
Each time I quit something, I feel like exploring & discovering myself a little bit more.
And I guess I’m not the only one feeling this way. Seneca & The Stoics (sounds like a garage rock band) have praised minimalism a long time ago as a way to uncover lasting happiness.
“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. ” ― Seneca
On a more personal level, I’ve found out that one of the most accurate measurement of happiness is how you handle your own company without distractions.
Yet enjoying our own company without distractions is getting harder everyday. The attention war is raging and giants are competing with us for our time. Accordingly, I’ve decided to quit things like mainstream news, Playstation, TV shows, Facebook App & buying things I don’t need.
When I recount my adventures (I feel like Indiana Jones exploring the Great Temple of Myself, for real), people often tell me that I should enjoy life instead of quitting things. It bugged me because I actually enjoy life. As a matter of fact, my life’s never been more entertaining since I cut out most distractions.
It got me thinking. Am I being too serious? Perhaps too extreme? I found out the question might be elsewhere.
“Are entertainment & distraction the same things?”
I strongly believe they’re not.
Distraction is about being withdrawn from the present moment towards an external focus. It’s about avoidance of self, of now.
Entertainment is about doing something fun, something new, something light, in a mindful way.
Watching one episode of a TV show is entertainment. Binge watching a whole season in a weekend is distraction. Having a drink with friends is entertainment. Getting drunk until 6am every friday & saturday night is distraction. The same goes with food, sex, technology, etc. You get the picture.
Yet our society often tricks us into thinking they’re the same thing.
On the path towards mindfulness we also struggle with the distinction, as we tend to associate entertainment with lack of focus & guilt.
I see it this way: Entertainment is like flowers on the roadside. They make the road more pleasant. But if you stop too long to enjoy them, you forget where you were going. That’s distraction.
Make it about the way, not the flowers.