Wander Woman

Guidance for the goal-driven woman

Are You Wired To Skim Through Life?

How you read is a reflection of how you live

An article at The Atlantic.com by Nicholas Carr, Is Google Making Us Stupid?, explores what the Internet is doing to our brains. The article starts with Carr bemoaning the difficulty he and the rest of the world seem to be having immersing in books and long articles. Now concentration drifts after a paragraph or two. Carr said, "Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski."

The irony of the article is that after describing the attention spans of most people today and citing research that suggests our brains are rewiring to work in sound bites, Carr goes into such a long history of the evolution of the attention span that I bet few readers read half the article before bouncing to another site.

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I am not sure our media, including the Internet, have altered our minds to think more shallowly, but I do know that the women in my coaching practice grow more harried and exhausted every year. This forces them to not only skim through articles, blog posts and emails, they seem to be skimming through life.

Are you skimming through life? How you read is a reflection of how you live.

It may be hard for you to turn your brain off "power browse." Notice how you are reading this post. Did you judge its length before reading a word? Do you shift to reading just the first line of each paragraph to get to the end? Does this relate to how you start and run your day?

In today's world where we are buried in messages, deep reading has become a struggle. Are you experiencing life the same way?

Most women I know rarely take time for themselves except for squeezing in a yoga class or secret nap when their body and mind gives up. They take time off to get things done at home, attend a friend's wedding, or care for their children. They never take a bona fide, self-centered, body and mind relaxing vacation.

In addition to promoting good mental health, women who take vacations report better sleep, better relationships, and were less likely to be tense or depressed.

Another study conducted by the Sociology Department at Ohio State University found that women feel more rushed than men. While men report feeling relaxed when they had free time, women still feel rushed. It takes more time for women to decompress and quiet their minds.

A friend once asked me, "Who is chasing you?" She saw me living like a  hamster frantically running on a wheel with no end in sight. Not only did I have no answer to her question, I couldn't even find one legitimate reason for overbooking my days. I had nice excuses, but none of them logically held water when I considered the options.

So now I am taking steps to slow down to be more present to my life. Yes, I get caught up on the hamster wheel at least once a day. And sometimes I have to "take myself out" to chill out, meaning I have to go to the mountains or to some other remote location before I will disconnect from my work and my email. It is excruciating for a moment, and then I relax into the blissful beauty of this planet. Only then can I immerse myself in a good book and take a deep drink of the beautiful world around me.

Work can be overwhelming for a day or two when I return from time off. I get through the list of email and piles of work anyway. The world didn't collapse while I was gone.

What will it take for you to slow down so you can experience your life more deeply? What will it take for you to believe that doing nothing important for a while is not being lazy?

If you want to do your best work and make a difference, you need to quit skimming through life. Also, you probably need to take a vacation. When is your next one planned?

I hope you have stayed with this post to the end. Please take a moment to share your thoughts and tips with other women who might also take a moment to slow down and enjoy the moment with you.

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Adapted from Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction. For more on this topic and programs for smart, strong, goal-driven women, contact Dr. Reynolds at Marcia@outsmartyourbrain.com.

 

 

Marcia Reynolds, PsyD., is the author of two leadership books, The Discomfort Zone and Wander Woman. She is President of Covisioning, a leadership development and coaching firm.

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