Transcript: Podship Earth Episode 015: DISTRACTED

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Welcome to Podship Earth. This is your host, Jared Blumenfeld. When I hiked from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail, I left civilization behind. There was nothing but me and the great outdoors. There were no distractions, and yet even a few weeks in, I spent much of the day distracted. I started to keep a journal of my distraction. It turned out that everything distracted me, from finding the next water source to worrying about something mean I'd said to a friend when we were in kindergarten.  At some point in the baking Mojave desert, I realized that I was choosing to be distracted. It took another thousand miles to figure out that the thing that I was distracting myself from was me. I was terrified of confronting my demons and exploring my true nature. I'd spent much of my life distracting myself from answering hard questions about my motivations, judgements, and expectations. It took me the rest of the hike to Canada to develop the discipline and skills required to move past my distractions. It was both liberating and grueling. When I got back to civilization at the end of the trail, I was bombarded by distractions all vying for my attention. It was ridiculously overwhelming from the ding on my phone to the TVs and airports and restaurants to the banner ads on the New York Times. I'd never noticed the quantity of distractions and how targeted they were to my interests.  Walking around the streets of San Francisco, literally everyone from the homeless to tech billionaires are plugged in and tuned out.

 

We are truly living in the age of distraction. Drivers are six times more likely to crash from distraction than from driving drunk in California. Distraction is a factor in 80 percent of car crashes. On public transit, reasonably no one noticed a man openly holding a gun for 10 minutes, which he used to kill a passenger because they were also distracted playing candy crush and checking Facebook. The tragic stories of our distracted lives are getting more coverage, but what is largely going unnoticed is the impact our distraction is having on our families, communities, and on our ability to tackle big issues from climate change to immigration. In today's episode of Podship Earth, I talked to authors, neurologists, sociologists, game developers, and psychologists to uncover the history, the latest research, impacts and solutions to our distracted age. I started my journey by talking with Maggie Jackson, the author of The Erosion of Attention and The Coming Dark Age which came out in 2009. Maggie Jackson's essays, commentary and books have been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, and on NPR this September. The updated version of the book on distraction will be released. Maggie, if distraction is leading us to a new dark age, what does that entail?

 

MAGGIE JACKSON: The loss of cultural, not only institutions, but cultural values and rituals, such as having an in-depth conversation or the use of libraries or literacy today. You know, this wasn't an alarmist cry set against the backdrop of other times of great flux and revolutionary change that resulted in technological advances, but yet cultural losses. I think that distraction, and that can mean both being pulled to something secondary or also, I think primarily it means to be fragmented or splintered.  Distraction at is really the undermining of humanity's ability to pay attention. We are really losing the ability to then manage our future.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Next, I bring in Dr. Larry Rosen into the conversation. Dr. Rosen is a professor emeritus in the psychology department at Cal State Dominguez Hills. He's an international expert in the psychology of technology and is the author with Adam Gazzaley of the book distracted mind, ancient brains in a high-tech world. Larry, how do our brains relate to distractions?

 

LARRY ROSEN: So, our brains are really very functional. They do a ton of work that we don't know they're doing and much of that is done through the prefrontal cortex. That's the part of your brain that's right behind your forehead. It controls your attention, your focus, your decision making, your ability to solve problems, your workload as you're working on a problem, but it also controls your impulsivity and your need to multitask. And the problem is that that part of your brain is not really complete, has not been finished in terms of neurological finishing until your mid-twenties, maybe even later. So you see over and over again, people can't focus for more than a few minutes at a time and every research project that I've ever seen shows that the focal amount of time, if you're focusing on something that you have to do that takes any bit of intelligence, is about three to five, maybe six minutes at best. And then you get distracted and then there's something called the resumption lag, which is how long it takes to return to what you were doing and that that can be upwards of 20, 30, 40 minutes. When you get back to your original task, your brain has kind of forgotten where it left off.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Maggie, doesn't it seem like the busy multitasking world that we live in has always been the norm?

MAGGIE JACKSON: Notions that you can find across different cultures from ancient Greek philosophy to Asian and Chinese philosophy is that hyper-busyness is a form of sloth. Great understanding is unhurried said one Chinese philosopher, small understanding is cramped and busy.  Distraction is juggling, to have it all, to hopscotch our way through life, and yet what happens is that you get mired, kind of stuck at the trivial level, at the shallow level of thinking that’s cognitively, culturally and philosophically. Distraction undercuts people's ability to both discern what is important and our ability to elaborate, to put flesh on a problem.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Dr. Rosen, is there good research on the societal impact of all this distraction?

 

LARRY ROSEN: Nobody's really studying the bigger picture and what I would argue is what the distraction does is it doesn't give us time to ever process information on a deep level. Because we're only focusing for three to five, maybe six minutes at a time.  That's barely enough time to start processing information and that concerns me enormously because if we can't process anything, then everything is done on a very superficial level - superficial relationships, superficial thinking about big issues. The best way that politicians can keep you from thinking about deep issues is to wave some shiny objects in front of you and distract you from that. And we see that day in and day out, very well planned, very controlled and very effective.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Maggie, what is actually the impact of all this multitasking?

 

MAGGIE JACKSON: We think that jumping from thing to thing is making us more productive now. Those are now broken values. We have to rethink what we mean by productivity and success. If doing that is actually making us more rigid, more unimaginative, less flexible thinkers, and less flexible in terms of our fellow humans, that’s an enormous cost.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How do we go from being distracted to focusing our attention on these critical issues?

 

MAGGIE JACKSON: There's also a growing realization and growing uneasiness, a growing tension in and around technology in our life and I think that's a huge step forward from 10 years ago.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Building on Maggie just said, how can we build skills to help us be less distracted?

 

LARRY ROSEN: Well, first of all, first and foremost, I think you have to be aware of it and I think most of us aren't aware of it. Once you're aware of how much time you're spending, then the issue is how do you control it? And right now the control is coming from outside. We are being controlled, our software and our hardware is controlling our humanware, our brain. We need to take back control. This is the world we've created and I think we can back ourselves out fairly easily as long as we first recognize how omnipresent it has become.

JARED BLUMENFELD: How much is consumer driven elements leading to these distractions?

 

LARRY ROSEN: I would even enhance it. I would say even it has nothing to do with buying stuff. It has to do with grabbing your attention and keeping your eyeballs glued there. It's not benign. It's malignant and it's what's conspiring to keep our eyeballs there and what it's doing is conspiring us to spend most of our time with our face down into our phone rather than up looking at the world around us, talking to the people around us, connecting with our loved ones, doing things that are more productive than what we've been doing on our phones. I think in the next 10 years, we're going to start to see more and more melding of our technology and our bodies. That concerns me because all that's going to do is make it easier for us to be distracted and I'm hoping that people recognize that this is an issue and that we can't continue to be distracted because it's simply not good for us physically, psychologically, in any way.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: While Dr. Larry Rosen emphasizes the efficacy of social media and technology as tools of distraction, Dr.

Frank Furedi, a sociology professor from the University of Kent, thinks that there's more to the story.

 

FRANK FUREDI: Initially when the distraction was first discussed in the ancient world in the Middle Ages, it was primarily seen as a moral problem. People were being too distracted from paying attention to their family duties or from their religious responsibilities. I think today we talk about the fact that people’s attention span has decreased as if there is really such a thing as an attention span. It's actually a metaphor that we use to make sense of how much we're able to pay attention to stuff. But what happens is that we increasingly attribute new reasons to explain what is a very old problem. Some people talk about digital technology as being responsible for distracting young people. We have this weird and a very predictable development where neuroscience kicks in and I don't know if you notice, but at the moment, every problem that we are confronted with, we use neuroscience as an explanation for it. And then we have, you know, what I think is in many respects the most disturbing development, where we have all these new medical and psychological conditions in which people's anxiety about distraction acquires this almost kind of medical kind of character to it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Frank, maybe tell us a little bit about the history of distraction and how people have considered a threat over time.

 

FRANK FUREDI: Well, I never realized that a debate on destruction goes back such a long time, but the Greeks were really worried just about the fact that if people had access to reading material, they would become too absorbed in it and lose sight of their world. They might just get too carried away to understand what's going on and they are going to become confused and disoriented. They would get distracted from their responsibility. This concern continues pretty much on an even keel for many centuries, but it's in the 18th century when you have the development of mass reading culture, when you have the availability of cheap publications because the invention of the printing press, that you have in a sense for the first time, the development of the idea of really being distracted as a social and a political problem. I think it's from that point onwards, that distraction becomes this feature of modernity, something that every generation rediscovers as a new problem, something that we continually a fuss about and get anxious about.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I wanted to find out more about our role in being distracted. I drove to the heart of Silicon Valley, the epicenter of all things that Dr. Rosen believes that distracting us the most, to meet with Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, the author of The Distraction Addiction. Alex is currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University. His most recent book is called Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less. Alex, what are the underpinnings of our distraction?

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG Distraction is a very old problem and also a very old phenomenon, right? You know, the fact that Buddhists have been talking about this for literally thousands of years… you know, they have the concept of the monkey mind, the mind that keeps jumping from one subject to another, that is captured by first one thing and then something else, and never settles down - they've been talking about that for literally, you know, 3000 or more years. And so, distraction is in that respect, nothing new. And indeed, when I was writing The Distraction Addiction, I interviewed some Buddhist monk bloggers, monks who have Youtube channels and you know, do videos and podcasts and so forth. And I asked them, how do you manage to maintain an online presence but not have it become a source of great distraction for you? And the response that I got was, why do you think that the technology is the source of distraction? Distraction comes from within and the technologies serve as a kind of material realization of it or they’re a kind of target. Our instinct for distractability latches onto devices, but it doesn't come from the devices. It comes from us. That is a really powerful point, that first of all, distraction is nothing new. And second, that it’s generated as much from within -whether by our own desires, you know, our desire to be in a different place, to be with different people, have a different kind of life than the one we have now, whether it's a desire to avoid certain things in the present or certain things that we ought to be wrestling with. It’s exacerbated by designs or technologies or behavioral nudges that have learned how to, in essence, kind of weaponize and commoditize that phenomenon. To amplify our opportunities for distraction and then to resell them to the highest bidder.

 

But the other important thing that the idea of distraction coming from within suggests is that we also have the capacity to do something about it. And there is a very long history of people developing practices to do exactly that, right? Contemplative practices, whether they are, you know, the various forms of meditation that you encounter in different schools of Buddhism, whether it is contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition, every major religion, every philosophical school has developed tools for dealing with this issue. It struck me that we had an opportunity to adapt these tools to the present. Bringing them into our lives by making space for them through things like digital sabbaths or whether it is through efforts to design them into devices in what is essentially a private interior challenge of quieting the monkey mind.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: To do the meditation or even to do a digital detox takes a consented effort and it seems that part of the addiction to this concept of distraction is a way of not having to do the work.

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: Blaming people for digital distraction or blaming or for feeling addicted to Snapchat, Facebook, what have you, is not as useful as helping people see that there are ways to use these that work better in their lives. Should not be taken to mean that these companies get off the hook, right? And companies like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, they have done an amazing job of taking findings from behavioral economics and psychology and figuring out how to use them to improve their products, to make them more compelling, to make them more interesting to us. It is worth recognizing just how much time and energy and brainpower these companies spend designing these, designing these services or social media in ways to make them more compelling and more attractive. Once you begin to recognize the work that they're doing, you can turn that into sort of another resource that you can use to recapture your attention. Once you begin to recognize the design tricks, that's power, right? That gives you the ability to start to interrupt that cycle.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: To help explore this issue raised by Alex, I reached out to Faranak Razavi, a San Francisco based augmented reality game creator. I asked Faranak if video games are really designed to distract us.

 

FARANAK RAZAVI: Video games are designed based on who you are, what you like, and then based on that, the psychology we used to craft the basics of whatever we want to create for you specifically. No matter what's the platform it has beautiful music and that's technically all you need in order to get distracted from anything you want to avoid.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Okay, so there's so much information you could get about me from social media from you know, my habits, what I do online- it just seems kind of like these games are using more and more data to find out what I like.

 

FARANAK RAZAVI: Yes. Not only from just the general data that who you are, but also from other apps or games that are out there. So they always track what you're doing in every single APP, every single game that you can think of, everything you do in any games, it's available to other developers as well.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Back with Alex, the author of The Distraction Addiction in Silicon Valley, I asked him if our president was created for and by the age of distraction. We have a president that seems both distracted and aiming to distract us from large issues by trivial shiny objects in front of us.

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: I kind of see Donald Trump as the first great social media president. What you see with Trump's use of social media is a remarkable sort of match of the medium with someone whose brain is very comfortable operating in these remarkably short cycles with very short attention. And whether he's doing so on purpose or not, he's really masterful at using that to distract us. And probably in a way to distract himself.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: The more information they have on you, they're going to use it to make you spend time and really then their success in having you spend time on their platform means you are distracted from something else.

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: They have gotten ever better at the personalization of the shiny blinky things made to distract us. I think this is one of the critical differences between social media today and let's say newspapers or radio or earlier media, is their capacity to observe us, their capacity to gather data very specific to us as individuals and to then in real time tailor their responses, their rewards, so that staying on that platform becomes ever more attractive.

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, tell us, what you mean by an addiction to distraction.

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: The idea that we are addicted to social media or that people are capable of being addicted to those things in the same way that we are addicted to, let's say opioids or to alcohol, even if it's only metaphorical. It's a useful metaphor because it suggests a situation in which you are no longer fully in control of your relationship with this thing. Whether it is your smart phone or the video poker or social media.  Second that there are physical things that are going on during these interactions that make them attractive in the first place, that make them difficult to kick. If you talk to people like Catherine Steiner Adare or Stephanie Brown, who you know, founded the Addictions Institute several decades ago for people who are dealing with alcohol addiction, is now dealing mainly with people who talk about having technology addiction. The clinical experience of these people is that they're seeing exactly the same, the same phenomena, the same problems, the same disruptions in family life or work, the same sense of a loss of control.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I go back to Frank Furedi, the sociology professor from the UK, to get his take on where our addiction to distraction is leading us.

 

FRANK FUREDI: I think there's a problem here which is very rarely addressed, which is this. When you see three or four people sitting in a bar at a table and instead of talking to one another, they kind of are spending most of their time looking at their phone and occasionally giggling and say, look at this picture I received. In other words, where the technology mediates the relationship in that kind of fundamental way. There's one of two ways of making sense of that, which is either this is the direct consequence of the power of technology or you can give a more sophisticated sociological explanation, which suggests that maybe we have a much more fragmented social experience. The quality of our friendships, our interactions, our community life has become weakened. And you know, when you have this grotesque sort of spectacle, when a family sits down at a dinner table and mom is texting and the children are looking at their iphones and dad is looking at his particular sort of gadget. Then yeah, I could ask the question, what is the problem here? The gadgets or the fact that the family hasn't developed strategy for being close to each other, for cultivating each other's company in a way that is not disrupted by any kind of technology. I think it's this short termism which has seep down into all levels of society.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, Frank, is this a problem relating to distraction itself or to something more fundamental?

FRANK FUREDI: I think the real problem that we are faced with is if you live in a world where we don't take our ideas too seriously, where our intellectual culture is very promiscuous in the way that it basically no longer intellectually stretches us in the way that it might've done in different eras where students often can get by getting a degree in university without ever reading a whole book. If you have that kind of attitude, then I think you will have this disease of distraction, which is basically a sublimated expression of the fact that we are not able to inspire and get young people to take their reading material seriously. We often told we will live in an age of information. We might, but we certainly don't live in an age of ideas and I think that's actually where the problem really begins to kick in. I think distraction is often used to explain why there are social and political problems, that citizens are far too preoccupied with their consumer activity or with their private life, with their individual concern, to be able to take the burden of citizenship seriously and acti in a responsible way. So what we've seen is I think the proliferation of the ways in which the distraction argument is used as a way of trying to shine light on a diverse number of social and cultural issues.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We go onto the streets of San Francisco to test out Frank’s theory. We ask Ray, what distracts you?

RAY: No, I can barely read anymore. I'm feel like I can't go 20 minutes without checking Reddit to see what's new at the top. And I actually noticed that like I want to read books, but I can't go for like longer than five pages without putting it down and picking up the phone. It's definitely a compulsion and it feels like there might be something new and important at all times.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, after hearing that from Ray, I asked Alex Soojung Kim-Pang to help explain what are we distracting ourselves from?

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: We all have different kinds of worries or different kinds of problems and to the extent that this kind of engagement characterized by a loss of control, maybe spending more time on them than we would like, or of the sense that we are being played or manipulated by these systems rather than using them for our own psychological enrichment or betterment, even doing simple things, changing notification settings so that you don't get the little buzz in your pocket every time someone likes something or responds to something that you've posted. Doing that kind of stuff actually can be quite powerful in terms of creating a space in which you can begin to get back control of your own attention.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: When you zoom up from the individual and look at the impact of this distraction on society as a whole, is it preventing us from tackling some of the big issues of the day, whether it's criminal justice reform or healthcare or climate change?

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: We're dealing, maybe for the first time in human history, with sets of challenges or existential threats that are global in scope that and that require the mobilization of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of people and finally, concerted global, large scale effort over the course of generations. Humans are not really designed to think about things at a global scale for that long a period.  We are really well designed to deal with immediate threats that have a face, like the tiger lurking in the forest. Big challenges that play out very slowly over long periods that require responses that we are able to sustain for very long periods of time are incredibly abstract to us. It's certainly the case that we're not going to be able to distract our way to solutions to global problems. At the same time, it's difficult to imagine us being able to deal with these things at scale without things like Facebook or other social media. And I think that only makes it that more that much more important that we figure out how to make those kinds of platforms less dependent on stimulating us in the short run and better able to help us out in the long run. The faster they are able to come up with better designs that rely less on distraction and allow us to do more good things both individually and collectively, the faster we'll be able to deal with some of these gigantic existential threats that we really all ought to be more focused on.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: If social media platforms are going to be successful in actually connecting us and mobilizing social good, it will be because game developers like Faranak Razavi are changing the way the industry looks at this issue. I asked if she sees it as the job of game developers to help civilization solve big problems.

 

FARANAK RAZAVI: That's why I decided to go more toward educational games and especially using a AR, which is the augmented reality. That's the latest form of technology that we have right now in order to just teach something very simple. If it works for a five year old, I'm pretty sure like 15 or 25 year old also can enjoy learning something new. Kids have smart phones and tablets and everything, so I was thinking why not using it in order to show them something interesting that would motivate them to go deep down and learn more, especially for stem projects, you know, or subjects like math or physics or something that most people are terrified.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Because Alex Soojung Kim-Pang lives in the heart of Silicon Valley, I wanted to find out if he agreed with Faranak that perceptions around the role of technology are changing.

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: I think that the ground really has shifted in the last few years. It seen less as an issue kind of moralizing and much more kind of practical issue. There were books like I'm Sherry Turkle's Alone Together, for example, or Nick Carr's The Shallows that I think tended to take an attitude that “people who are on twitter are destroying Western civilization.” “You are sharing cat pictures rather than reading War and Peace.”  Not that many of us actually ever read War and Peace even if it was assigned to us. I'm sorry to say today, we recognize that this isn't really so much as a moral failing, kind of a weird mismatch between the enormous amounts of work that we spend trying to capture other people's attention and the enormous amounts of energy we spend trying to defend our own. Everybody now struggles between the temptations of smartphones and the distractions of open offices, which I personally regard like Satan's floor plan. If you wanted to design an environment in which both auditory and social distractions were absolutely maximized, you would design an open office. We operate in these environments trying to regain our attention so that we can create products that very often exacerbate these problems for other people. That contradiction is becoming clearer now. The idea of bringing the world closer together, that's not actually a particularly bad thing, and indeed, if we're going to solve really big problems, we're going to have to do that. But we're going to have to do that better than we have so far.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What's your single best distraction busting technique?

 

ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: I've turned off every single alert on my phone except for things that come from my immediate family. I have something that I call the Zombie Apocalypse Test, which is, in the Zombie Apocalypse, who do you want being able to reach you? For me, that's my wife, my kids and a couple other people and really nobody else.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I feel like I have a much better handle on the issues we all face when it comes to distraction, but I still wanted to get a clear understanding of how distractions impact us personally and how they may prevent us from taking environmental action. So, I met up with Denise Renye, a clinical psychologist with a doctoral degree from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I asked Dr. Renee, who specializes in our relationship with nature, to help me understand the psychological role that distraction plays in our lives.

 

DENISE RENYE: I think the biggest function it provides is busyness. Also potentially a lack of awareness, lack of centeredness, and just a way to be away from oneself, not to really just deal with what's happening within oneself. It can be scary for a lot of people just to be with the self. Nature provides a way for people to just be. City’s noises, noise pollution provides an opportunity for people to get a bit further out from themselves and not have time to reflect.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Is there a difference between good and bad distractions?

 

DENISE RENYE: They would say that if one could just withhold the judgment of good and bad, then they can just kind of ask the question of themselves, do I want to engage with this distraction or not? And if people can stay in the question of, do I want this in my life? Is this beneficial to me in how I want to live the life that I want to live? Then, they know that they have a choice and that they know that they can choose to engage with that certain distraction or not. It's totally up to them. Even though there are more and more distractions happening, people I think are waking up and just being more and more aware of themselves so that they have a choice. They know they have choices.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: A lot of people are blaming new technologies and saying, you know, but for the iphone, but for social media we wouldn't be distracted.

 

DENISE RENYE: Knowing that there's choice. Choice to create a life that one wants to create, rather than feeling a victim of all of the potential distractors. People can use those as, okay, I have a choice to say yes or no to this, and then the more that they do know themselves, the more that their choices increase.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How do we approach these big societal issues with an open mind?

 

DENISE RENYE: Well, something like climate change and looking at that, I think it is an issue that people can be easily feeling like they're removed from, unless they have this idea and knowledge and awareness that they're actually one with nature. It is affecting them. They are one with nature. We are part of nature. We're not separate from this planet that we live on. When we take care of ourselves, when we know ourselves, we're actually knowing the planet, we're contributing to the planet, we're contributing to each other. So if somebody is removed there from the planet and everything that's happening, they're actually removed from themselves and from their own experience too. So if they can find a space to be with themselves, they're actually contributing to the planet as well. The more people distract themselves, the more that there's harm to the planet and the more that people can make time and space for themselves and self-awareness and valuing themselves and others and their relationships with others, then the relationship with the planet changes, and then therefore the planet itself changes.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Denise's words really resonate with me. I believe that if we remove the shackles of distraction, we will better understand ourselves and that through the process of self-reflection, we will realize how intimately connected we are to nature, which will then give us the wisdom and passion to achieve the ecological u-turn we need in order to keep living on the planet. I want to thank Maggie Jackson, Larry Rosen, Frank Furedi, Faranak Razavi, Alex Soojung Kim-Pang, Ray, and Denise Renye for helping us explore one of the most important and least discussed issues of living in 2018: how to conquer distraction.  As we heard from today's guests, the first step to tackling our own distraction is recognizing the problem. Ultimately being distracted is a choice. It's a decision of whether we're going to set our own priorities or whether someone is going to make money by having our attention spent immersed with their product. Gaining the necessary skills to strengthen our resistance to the increasingly targeted and sophisticated army of techno -distractions can be very liberating. I would recommend trying meditation every morning for just a few minutes. By clearing my head of all thoughts, meditation helps me focus for the rest of the day. It really takes practice, so don't get frustrated if it seems hard to begin with. After a week or two, you'll be amazed at your newfound ability to give your priorities the attention they deserve. Soon old distractions will appear as they really are - empty calories that provide no nutritional value, no matter how sweet they taste. Next week we talk with Randy Hayes, the Eco-Warrior Academy Award Winner and founder of The Rainforest Action Network about getting arrested, the true state of the planet, and how to rebuild after the apocalypse. If you have time, please review the show on Apple’s Podship Earth page. Thank you so much for being part of the Podship Earth journey. From the entire Podship Earth crew -sound engineer, Rob Spate, producer Nancy Ferranti, executive producer, David Kahn, and me, Jared Blumenfeld, have a distraction free week.