Since the outbreak of the pandemic, many of us have been relying on technology for even more aspects of living. As online platforms have become our epicentre of work, shopping, socialising, and entertainment, and those of us working from home have experienced ‘Zoom fatigue’, the impact on our minds is significant. 

In today’s world we are tuned to stimuli from many directions that disrupt our mental focus. The constant pinging of instant messages, news notifications and interruptions from people at home can almost create “mind attacks”, where we can’t work out which information we should pay attention to. This overstimulation leaves us vulnerable to engaging in unimportant actions and leaving tasks incomplete, and can lead to overwhelm.

During my former ultra-running career, maintaining strong focus was essential to completing the distance through some of the world’s harshest deserts. Persevering, with blistered feet,  past the beautiful but monotonous landscapes required all my attention to centre on a dot on the horizon where a water refuelling checkpoint may be nestled. I would be constantly wrestling my thoughts away from the pain and temptation to rest; urging my body to keep moving to reach the checkpoint.

When we end up in thought patterns in which our mind focuses deeper and deeper in on problems, we can instead choose to mentally zoom out and gain a sense of perspective. Stepping back from micro thoughts offers us the chance to understand what is important and how to prioritise. While running 250k through the Gobi Desert, this exercise allowed me to shift my mind from the micro (sore feet) to the macro (keep moving to complete the race).

In everyday life, there are many tools we can draw on to gain this perspective. It could be as simple as walking outside or listening to music. Other practices such as yoga, breathwork and meditation can also help us connect to the reality outside our thoughts and develop a sense of the bigger picture. Any activity that shifts the mind from the micro towards the macro holds immense power for fostering calm. The more we practice developing our ability to channel the power of perspective, the better we are able to be intentional about what we spend our time and thoughts on, how we organise ourselves, and even how we lead organisations.

In the past, I thought that I had to go deep into a desert and run an ultra-marathon to gain perspective on life. Now, I realise that the practice is within all of us, and we can access it any time. You just have to remove your mind from the noise, zoom out and search for what really matters. Adopting this approach and ultimately seeing results takes patience, but it is thoroughly worth it.

Keep yourself focused on the practice of developing perspective:

  • Know that sometimes your mind won’t quiet down and this is OK. Release the pressure and keep trying different routes to see what works.
  • Recognise you are often learning more than you think, so dedicate time and discipline to practice.
  • As you gain clarity, start writing your thoughts somewhere (a diary, a piece of paper, even a recording).
  • Speak to someone who can be a neutral sounding board or source of wisdom can be powerful in helping focus your thoughts and support your move to macro thinking.

 

Image Credit:  Bawah Island Reserve

 

Matthew Chapman

Matt’s passion for wellness has driven every aspect of his life. He started, and has grown, ChapmanCG into the world’s premier HR search company, which he founded and has kept completely virtual since 2008. His passion around HR and the future of work has fuelled his desire to invest in HR technology concepts and also to co-create the Thrive HR Exchange.

He is currently in training as a Founding Participant in the epic Snowman Race in Bhutan. He is a finisher of six 250 km desert ultramarathons in Chile, China, Egypt, Antarctica, Namibia and Madagascar.

Matt now resides at Parihoa, his seaside farm in New Zealand, where he is attuned to virtual working and manages his global business interests from here. He is a Singapore Citizen and counts Singapore as his other base.

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