Mental Minimalism | Letting Go of Distractions

Michael Ken
6 min readOct 16, 2021
Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash

Renowned philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote, “It is through education that all the good in the world arises.”¹ Kant also said, “But distraction is the enemy of all education.”²

What is it that gives distraction such traction in our lives? We all want to improve our lives, but more than ever, distraction seems to occupy a larger space in our psyche. Distractions lurk all around, and with the advent of smartphones, tablets, and social media, being focused has become a lost art, if not a lost cause.

Most of us think of distractions as an escape from the busyness of modern-day life. We need to find a reprieve from the daily challenges we face, and we start to think of distractions as an outlet that helps keep us sane. Most people admit that distractions are not good for productivity and rationalize their use as a necessary evil to cope with the mounting pressure.

Stepping Off the Path

Although distracting habits sometimes feel necessary to give us a break from life’s stressors, disengaging from what we ought to be doing is a form of stepping off the proper path. It is running away from what is essential and running toward what is unnecessary. It allows us to avoid the difficulties we encounter when facing problems head-on. Ironically, the things we avoid hold the keys to the things we want in life.

Most people understand the necessity of facing challenges, but there are also several reasons this can be hard. Spending time working on a large project can feel overwhelming, especially if you have not broken the project down into small, achievable steps. In this case, looking at the enormity of what you are trying to do can cause you to freeze, which feels uncomfortable or even demoralizing.

It is important to realize time used to avoid a problem usually exasperates the situation. While there are situations where a little time can allow some of life’s fires to burn out, in most cases, time wasted walking off the path means, at some point, you will have to turn around and walk right back where you started. Constantly avoiding challenges can quickly become a form of escapism. Distraction is not a place of refuge; it is a trap.

Forms of Distraction

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Michael Ken

My journal about life in the woods. Visit intothewoods.blog to see my complete journal, photographs, and articles.