Do you suffer from dementia of the preoccupied mind? If you do, beware, there is no cure, so it’s good that it’s totally made up. I recently came across an article in a great blog where they discuss an interview with noted neuroscientist and author Frances Jensen, where she introduces us to this phrase during an interview on FreshAir.
What is Dementia of the Preoccupied Mind?
Sure, this isn’t a real condition, but we can all identify with the concept of the dementia of the preoccupied mind. It’s a state we get into during our busy days, as we constantly shift attention between tasks. I know this happens to me frequently, I often get interrupted while studying data for our auto insurance programs, or my website analytics, or when blogging on home insurance topics.
When we are working on projects that require deep thought or attention, and we get distracted, we lose focus on details and things “slip through the cracks.”
It’s too easy to be distracted
During your busy day you undertake a myriad of tasks, it can be something that requires intense attention to detail like reading contracts, or studying data, to writing a presentation or blog article, and you will have reason to be distracted. Sometime during your process you are bound to be interrupted by one of many environmental elements like email, text, phone calls, or unexpected visitors. All these interruptions prevent us thinking long enough, or dwelling on the work at hand, and we fail to consolidate our memories.
When this happens you can lose time, lose your place, and feel like you are starting your project over-and-over again. Rest assured, you’re not losing you mind, you’re not going crazy, and your most likely not demented. But you do need to find a way to mitigate against your distractions, or take time each day to review the most important things you did in the day … but you’re likely to preoccupied to do this, right. 🙂
I think the Dementia of the Preoccupied Mind is likely a condition most often associated with your teenager, if you have one of these lovely monsters lurking your home’s hallways, you may what to consider Frances Jansen’s book, The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.
Is there an opposite of the dementia of the preoccupied mind?
Maybe there is, in his book The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, Steven Kotler examines extreme athletes through the lens of science to better understand the “ultimate athlete.”
Have you ever heard an athlete say they were in the “zone?” Maybe you’re an athlete and you’ve experienced this fist hand? When you’re in the “zone,” this is something that Kotler calls “flow.” You can actually experience this in your daily life … it’s what fuels us to achieve our ultimate human performance. When you experience flow ego falls away, time flies, you easily process one thought or action to the next with great easy. It’s like your entire being is involved in the moment and you are using your skills to their optimum capacity.
This is what makes life worth living … these are some of your best moments.
In the book, The Rise of Superman, Kotler examines the extreme athlete, so it is good for us to differentiate the difference between the optimal versus the ultimate, in the ultimate, as in extreme sports or athletes, an error can result in physical injury or worse. It’s the life-or-death condition of extreme sports that necessitates the experience of flow, making the impossible … well, possible. It’s not the “extreme” we regular are looking to achieve (normally), it’s the optimal.
This is the purpose of foundations, that we provide ourselves the foundational elements to live our lives to our optimum. Like insurance and savings are the foundation to your financial plans, your health and wellness and family are the foundations to an optimal life. Treat yourself to a little more flow, live by your passions, practice, and you’ll get more out of YOU.