We live in a world full of distractions. Sometimes it feels hard to work with focus for any significant amount of time. My brain wonders, twitter beckons, and I suddenly feel hungry for my fifth snack over the last 3 hours.
My friend and teacher Michael Hyatt recently gave some superb tips on how to maintain our focus. His thoughts prompted me to explore Jewish wisdom on the topic.
What I Discovered
It seems we are not the first generation to experience distractions. It is a human proclivity.
I also came to realize that focusing in the moment is truly a spiritual act. We can use the tools and techniques of the spirit to become masters in the art of living.
Here are a few of them:
1. Remember to take breaks: The Sabbath is one of the most wonderful tools for maintaining focus. It forces us to take a long break once a week.
I am always able to get more work done in six days than in seven days, because the Sabbath day is a time to recharge. The energy gained from rest helps me become much more focused during work. It may seem counter-intuitive, but 4000 years of history suggest it works.
2. Remind yourself of why you need to focus: The great twelfth century sage Nachmanides said we miss some of the most important moments in life because we have not prepared our hearts for them. Part of focusing in the moment is preparing for it.
Think about it this way: If you are going on a major travel adventure, do you prepare for it ahead of time? If so, you realize how much more you get out of the trip by familiarizing yourself with what to expect and where to focus your attention.
There will always be surprises, and that is part of the joy of travel. Yet, the more we prepare, the more we get out of our experience.
The same is true with major projects for work or home. There will always be surprises. And preparation helps us to deal with them and maintain focus in the moment.
3. Listen: We all know people who are simply waiting for their chance to speak. They are not paying attention to what you say or what is going on around them. If all we are doing is waiting to speak, our mind will naturally wonder when we are not.
Listening, however, can keep our minds engaged. Michael Hyatt advises us to be “fascinated by other people.” When we are, we listen and focus and respond appropriately.
How Moses Got Focused
Jewish tradition said that many people passed the Burning Bush. But only Moses paused, looked at it, and took the time to listen to the voice of God coming forth from it.
When we listen–and listen truly–we can enter into the moment. We pay attention to what needs our attention.
We need to remember that listening depends as much on the heart as it does on the ears. Using them both makes us artists of the spirit.
To get free weekly spiritual inspiration from Rabbi Moffic, click here.