power in words and pictures

Diversion Can Drive You to Succeed

Diversion Can Drive You to Succeed

“The mind ought sometimes to be diverted that it may return the better to thinking.” ~Plato, Phaedrus
What is on your to-do list?  Is there any chance you’ll get it all accomplished today? “No,” you think, “not if I keep running into people who want to talk to me.”  It happens when we are in a hurry, doesn’t it?  Going to the store with a list in hand, clearly, on a mission, friends we haven’t seen in a while or strangers who need a little conversation can slow us down. It can be enough to make a person want to stay home, but does that really help you accomplish what you need to do? Seeing people, having conversations, and laughing a little are things that can make us feel better, and they might be just what we need to, as Plato says, return to better thinking.

I had an article to write, pictures to edit, a website to update, and someone asked if I could meet them for lunch. Feeling that I’m behind on my ‘to-do list,’ taking time out for lunch or coffee tends to send me into a panic that I’ll never accomplish the things on my list. After so many times of this happening, you’d think I would remember that it usually ends up being a good thing, but I forget.

Experience has taught me that when I take the time to enjoy life, things have a way of getting done when they need to be done, and I am a much happier person.

Enjoying life isn’t the same as ignoring responsibilities, of course, kind of like trusting that God will take care of your bills doesn’t mean you don’t need to get a job. Enjoying life means recognizing that taking a break could potentially improve your thought process, alleviate the boredom that might put you to sleep, and present you with a fresh outlook on a project or life. How do we make that time, though? We must be intentional, for starters, planning for the possibility of what we sometimes consider to be interruptions.

Running into people is different than planning for interruptions, but the two things can work together for good. Planned interruptions help give your brain a chance to deactivate and then focus. A study through the University of Illinois has concluded that diversion is good. Psychology professor Alejandro Lleras says the study “suggests that prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.” Planned interruptions are good for our brains and good for our ability to complete our projects.

Back at the grocery with a list and a mission, we run into three or four people – some we haven’t seen in a long time, some strangers. In the back of our minds might be the nagging thought, “I need to get home/back to work,” but if you aren’t punching a time clock, enjoying the meetings with friends or strangers can be a wonderful treat — for you and them. Our society encourages us to be in a hurry, yet life is waiting for us to slow down and enjoy the moments. The older woman at the grocery just wants someone to hear about her broken hip or happy heart. The young mother needs a moment of sanity with a little conversation to serve as a diversion for a screaming child. There we are, able to be that person who gives a smile, some sage advice, or a hand getting the pickles from the top shelf. In those moments, we have enriched their lives and our own.

Plan for some interruptions in your life. Go to the store fearlessly. Discover the benefits of diversion when you have a project that is taking a long time. Enjoy the people who happen into your path and remember that the intrusion into your life might really be a diversion that leads you to success.

%d bloggers like this: