Distraction and not paying full attention to your interactions is the cause for the vast majority of your arguments, disconnections and misunderstandings.

One of the big problems is that our larger world is set up with distractions GALORE so it’s harder and harder to stay in the moment with our thoughts and feelings.

One of the big culprits for distraction is your smartphone and social media. 

In the 1940s B.F. Skinner famously developed his theories on Operant Conditioning and Behaviorism at Harvard. His theory was that our behavior is determined by consequences (either reinforcements or punishments). These consequences make it more or less likely that the behavior will occur again.

In Skinner’s lab he found that if pigeons were given food every time they pecked a button, they pecked a lot. If they were only sometimes given food when they pecked a button, they not only pecked much more, but were frantic and compulsive about it! 

Skinner’s research found that these intermittent reinforcements are the hardest to extinguish. This means that the behavior will persist long after you stop giving the reward. 

All this intermittent reinforcement is the science used behind things like Slot Machines and Chuck E. Cheese (which is basically Las Vegas for toddlers). It’s also the science behind all social media, apps, and advertising. The fact that you can access all of these things on that little phone you carry around adds up to trouble. 

Addiction Technology Expert. Dr. David Greenfield, says:

“Smartphones are basically slot machines that we keep in our pockets.”

Here’s the big problem. Every time you get a text, social media update, likes, follows or other notifications, your brain sees this as a reward. This means that every single time one of these things happen, you get a dopamine release. Dopamine controls the pleasure centers of your brain. 

Whenever Dopamine is released it makes you feel good and want more of whatever’s giving you that dopamine boost. This is why you want to keep eating, have more sex and stay on social media platforms. 

It’s time to get serious about focusing our attention on the people we love and who are important to us.

Here are my top 5 tips to stop being distracted and to start connecting:

Tip #1: Take the Test 

Are you a smartphone addict? Dr. David Greenfield, the director of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, has developed something called the Smartphone Compulsion Test so you can know for sure. 

Tip #2: Disable Notifications and Download a Tracking App

First thing first: go into your settings and disable your phone’s notifications. (Yes, all of them). 

After you’ve disabled your notifications, I want you to give yourself a reality check about just how much time you’re truly spending with your lover smart phone. 

You can do this by downloading one of these awesome apps that monitor your usage:

Tip #3: Go Old School with Your Alarm Clock

Get your phone out of the bedroom. There are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t sleep with your phone and I don’t have time to list them all here. For now, you need to know that using your phone within an hour of bedtime leads to poorer sleep quality and more insomnia. So get a “real” alarm clock and leave your phone somewhere else. 

Tip #4: Success is Scheduled 

Schedule discrete chunks of time throughout the day to go phone free. Try leaving your phone at home when you go out to dinner or leave it in your car for a few hours when you go to work or class. When you’re home at night, leave your phone in a different room so you can spend more quality time with your partner or kids.

Tip #5: Be Mindful Baby

The real way out of all of this is to be present in your moments! It’s time to make mindfulness a habit! 

Resources and Links:

My book, Be Happily Married, Even if Your Partner Won’t Do a Thing

Stop Phubbing and Start Connecting

The One Big Mistake You Make When You Text Your Partner


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