The epidemic of attention-deficit disorder remains on the rise in America among adults as well as children and adolescents. Everyone at least seems to have undivided attention-deficit disorder. In today’s society, distractions are everywhere and multi-tasking is honored.
Theories on what causes attention problems abound, including the air, water, food, technology and modern families. Perhaps the cause is all of the above or some combination thereof. In any case, quick-fix tips and tricks proliferate with practical advice. But contemplating the issue in the context of a worldview can also put the matter into perspective and lead to one’s own path for success.
One of the best tools for success is the ability to stay focused. Having a solid sense of identity, goals and values helps formulate focus, and keeping these in mind while staying in the moment helps turn dreams into realities.
In his most recent book, “The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction,” Matthew B. Crawford, explores the many people, places and things that shape modern culture and ethics, and ultimately shape individuals. Though philosophical in nature, his book provides thought-provoking insights into how to sort out whom and what we encounter in contemporary life. From there, he offers some ways to discover individualism and purpose.
The author alludes to how modern technology and interpersonal communication have changed dramatically from their natural form. These changes can give one the sense that the world is merely part of a pre-existing system to which one must adapt. A typical response to this system would be to retreat and isolate. Crawford uses the examples of various occupations to illustrate how isolating one’s self allows ongoing focus and concentration on individual skills and crafts “… to help us see what it would look like to inhabit ecology of attention that puts one squarely in the world,” he writes.
Crawford’s book combines many existing philosophies, sciences and theories to address the growing problem of inattention and distraction. He cites many different examples and detailed descriptions of various occupations to highlight the importance of working on one’s own psyche. Though tangential and cumbersome at times, he conveys how being mentally present is the only way to be fully human. The reader is left with the incentive to achieve and presented with some practical ways to go about doing so.
Crawford is a senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. He is also author of the best-selling book, “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work,” which has prompted a wide re-thinking of education and labor policies in the United States and Europe.
Written by Dana Connolly, Ph.D., Sovereign Health Group writer