This is probably the most important article I will ever write on this blog. I wanted to title it at first: How to focus, but I thought it wouldn’t catch as much your attention than the current title.
Here, I want to introduce the concept of present moment. This by far is the most important concept I learned across all fields. The best book you could find on it in my opinion is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. We are present when we stop thinking about the past and about the future, and we totally inhabit the moment. We feel still and peaceful with sharp senses, free of the noise of the inner dialogue. It can also be called a state of Being instead of a state of Doing.
Why being present is important? If you want to achieve high performance in any field, whether it’s data science, basketball or painting, you need to be present. All your attention needs to be focused in the Now to be at your peak performance. Even when you’re planning for the future, let’s say a business plan, you’re doing it in the Now.
However, in our modern society, being present is rare. Instead of fully pouring ourselves into every act we do, we usually are scattered. We have our smartphones next to us when we work, and at the slightest feel of boredom, we check our phones, usually frantically scrolling through our social media. Powerful technology requires powerful self-discipline in its usage, otherwise we are at the mercy of the negative consequences of it, such as shorter attention spans, or depression and loneliness.
Thinkers such as Cal Newport advocate to quit social media altogether, whereas other such Luke Krogh advocate to master social media. However, both agree on the negative consequences if social media is passively consumed. Luke advises users to reverse the dynamics and to become producers of content instead of consumers of content, whereas Cal gives the more radical advice of leaving altogether the platform. My view is one that is more moderate: stay on social media as mostly a content producer but still limit your time on the platform because being a producer doesn’t protect you from the incessant checking of your social media feed.
Cultivating your presence is the secret to be better at everything you do. Pour yourself into every act you do and forget momentarily that past and future exist. This simple advice improved my life not only in my learning experience but also all others: health, social life and happiness.