I have made an enlightening discovery over the past few weeks and I thought I should share it with you, but first, I’ll give you some history.
Imagine it’s January. The wind is bitter cold and everything is dead. The new semester has begun and I’m up to my ears in papers and homework assignments. I never can get my mind to slow down and find myself distracted too often by my social media, so what do I do? A cleanse.
Yes. I deleted all social media from my phone and tried to become more present again in my day to day life.
Spoiler: it did not work.
I only became more and more frustrated, because social media perusing had become a de-stresser for me in some ways. It allowed my mind a break, but I did not feel that it was healthy.
I knew I wanted to start reading books again. The last time I had sat down and read a novel all the way through had to have been Sophomore year of high school. My excuses were along the line of ‘I have no time’, ‘There are better ways to spend my time’, ‘I have too much to do’, or ‘but a new season of New Girl just released on Netflix’. The truth was, I lacked the attention span to read. I couldn’t do it. Not only did my mind wander like crazy, but I found I just couldn’t stay stimulated long enough.
I decided to research the reasons for my lack of concentration. It didn’t make sense. I only drank one cup of coffee a day. I hydrated regularly. I went to bed at a decent time. I just could not concentrate on anything for the life of me.
Then I started listening to audible books. It seemed to soothe my overstimulating mind while I worked long Friday afternoons at my desk job. One day while browsing the “Health” section on audible, I found a book title that grabbed my attention. “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr. I downloaded it and sat back, wondering what I was about to get myself into. Luckily, it was enlightenment.
The book was a bit dry, but I learned so much during the time I listened. Through listening to the book, I found that I could not concentrate because my brain has been trained to be constantly stimulating every 10-30 seconds. If you’re finding it hard to read this blog post it’s because of one of two things; maybe I am a shitty writer, or maybe your brain isn’t used to focusing for this long.
In all honesty, I freaked out a bit, but I decided to gradually train my brain to slow down. I began by reading poetry books, short little phrases that were convenient and easy to grasp, then slowly I edged my way back in to reading full novels by starting with short ones and working my way up to larger ones.
Fast-forward to now. It’s summer, I have a lot of down time while babysitting (weirdly enough) and often find social media uninteresting now. At the beginning of the summer I decided to go get a library card. The last time I did that was definitely elementary school and that was more to rent the VHS tapes than anything else. I checked out two books and had to admit I only read one. Now I find myself checking new books out every week and honestly, there is something so satisfying in reading a book instead of catching up on the news or what new shoes everyone is freaking out about. There is something soothing about sitting by the window, coffee in my hand, and immersing myself in another world.
If you want to learn more, here’s a link to the book I listened to that gave me new perspectives.
If you are also a book worm send me some suggestions of books, I’m always searching for the next adventure. Bookworms unite!
-The Girl in the Green Coat