Your Monkey Mind's Favorite Toy

Atualizado: 26 de Out de 2019

Have you ever took some time to stop and look at what was going on with your mind? In these modern days, with our always-connected-always-available life, our thoughts keep moving from one topic to another in a frantic way - just like a monkey would do on a tree. Seeking for distractions and pleasant experiences for the senses, the beast inside our heads consumes a considerable amount of energy in its nonsense quest. The problem is the monkey needs to satisfy the hunger for sensorial stimulation, and technology provides a wide variety of toys to play.


Feeding the Crazy Ape


There is a wide variety of products and services that can provide the necessary ingredients for fulfilling the necessity of being distracted with sensations. Streaming services like Youtube and Netflix, for example, were engineered to make binge-watching sound natural. Social networks offer a page with an infinite feed of information that someone can scroll up for hours. Companies also design products in a way that they are so comfortable and enjoyable to use; we can not help ourselves in not overusing them. One of the most known and widespread are smartphones. They have become our monkey's favorite toy.


What can we do to calm the monkey?


Despite all the mess, It is still possible to tame the monkey and take back control of your life. And you do not even have to ditch your phone. Although, in some cases, a digital detox may require that you keep away from electronic devices for a determined period of your treatment. There is no one-rule fits-it-all here, and every case is unique. Besides the singularity involved, the following tips are useful to calm any monkey:


1 - Remove or Cut Down Notifications


Notifications are one of the most distractive forces created by technology. Every time you switch your focus to your smartphone because it beeps, it takes time for your brain to recover your concentration on the previous task. Therefore, I recommend you evaluate each notification and think about how important it is for you and if it is worth being interrupted by that piece of information. You will be surprised by how unnecessary they are most of the time. For this reason, remove them, and you will thank yourself later.


2 - Keep You Phone Away From Your Sacred Moments


Any person needs good sleep, nutritious eating habits, and regular exercise to stay healthy. Contrary to what most people think, these activities require focus and dedication. Studies show that merely having your smartphone around and visible to you is sufficient to reduce your concentration skills. Hence, I recommend that you create a golden rule for yourself or your family to keep your smartphone away from rooms linked to these activities when they are happening. It will give you the chance to go deeper into your workout session, enjoy dinner with friends, and that decent night of sleep you deserve.



A portrait of a troubled monkey.


3 - Access Your Social Networks Only On Your PC (Or Quit Using Them)


Let's get real: social networks are not the best way to connect to people. I mean, if you want real relationships - not the superficial and phony ones - the only way is meeting people face-to-face. But if you have a better reason not to let go of social networks, I suggest you access only on your computer, never mobile devices. The idea is tablets and smartphones are always an easy way to lose control of your time and to stay hooked sitting for hours and hours.


4 - Schedule Your Device to Enter "Do Not Disturb" Mode


There is a stupid rule of thumb nowadays that says we do not have the right to be unavailable. Unless you are a robot or do not mind having any privacy whatsoever, following this rule is a recipe for neurosis. So, please, do yourself a favor and learn how to use the "DND" feature on your smartphone. You can find instructions for Android phones on this link. iOS users can follow this link.


5 - Keep Games Out of Your Mobile Device


Games are fun! Some are even clever and educational. But I still think you should keep them out of mobile devices, leaving the fun to game consoles and computers. You will find it much easier to control how much you are playing because you are creating a contextual separation in your mind between "time to play videogames" and "time using my phone." Moreover, you can even save some bucks not having to buy that fancy smartphone, because you will not be gaming there means you might not need that super high-end config, and an intermediate one might be just fine.


Conclusion


Life is much more interesting than the symptoms of a crazy monkey inside your head: distraction and disconnection from your self and the world around you. But it can only be enjoyed at its most if we stop the monkey inside our mind from draining our energy and maintaining us distracted and disconnected. Even though it can be a daunting task, it is entirely attainable, and there is nothing wrong about asking for professional help when we find ourselves in deep trouble.


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