Book Notes: Things That Matter, Chapter 2

“Our newer tech- and media-based distractions are actually just add-ons to many of the old diversions that have plagued humanity for countless generations, like having mixed-up priorities or viewing ourselves or other people in unhelpful ways. They’re internal before they’re external.” (pg. 19)

He’s got a point. Sure, there are many new ways to be distracted nowadays, but they don’t seem to be the root of the problem. I can get distracted by my iphone, but why really, am I turning my attention to it? I was thinking of the spiritual battle when I read this chapter and some of the language in it supports this.

“… resisting it is a battle worth fighting.” (pg. 19)

“We wage war every single day to defeat these distractions and align ourselves with greater pursuits.” (pg. 27)

“This can be difficult and requires moments of wrestling within ourselves. But we learn to fight.” (pg. 24)

I (of course) also think of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Discernment of Spirits. Joshua Becker suggests ways to respond when our distractions have become our “masters rather than our servants”. (pg. 24)

One way is through self-examination and frequently sitting quietly with ourselves. This sounds just like the Examen and being within. He says, “Secondly, we can verbally articulate what distractions are keeping us from our best work, keeping us from those we love the most, or keeping us from fulfilling our highest purpose.” (pg. 24) Then a third response is to remove the distractions diligently and intentionally. Identifying and getting rid of inordinate attachments comes to mind.

Here is a list of distractions to be covered in the following chapters of the book:

  1. fear
  2. past mistakes
  3. happiness
  4. money
  5. possessions
  6. applause
  7. leisure
  8. technology

I’m interested in continuing with Chapters 3 & 4 this week.

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