Have you found yourself focusing only on the vehicle just ahead of yours while you ride or drive in heavy traffic, without understanding the actual reason behind the clog? While you try to understand a customer’s problem, are you looking at the nearest literal symptom or a long-lasting impact of the problem?
Nevertheless, any challenge in our personal and professional lives needs an immense amount of farsightedness to arrive at a permanent, long-lasting solution. Else all that we may do to solve problems, may just be a quick fix or a temporary repair.
So, what is affecting our farsightedness?
The UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) researchers studied two groups of sixth-graders from a Southern California public school. One group was sent to the Pali Institute (an outdoor education camp in Running Springs, California), where the kids had no access to electronic devices. For the other group, it was life as usual. At the beginning and end of the five-day study period, both groups of kids were shown images of nearly 50 faces and asked to identify the feelings being modeled. Researchers found that the students who went camping scored significantly higher when it came to reading facial emotions or other nonverbal cues than the students who continued to have access to their media devices.
From this research, it is evident that our ability to perceive things at a distance and in detail is compromised due to ‘excessive’ screen interactions as it limits our vision and thought process to a great extent. Over a period, this habit diminishes our capability to solve problems with a mindset of looking for farsighted and long-lasting solutions to problems and challenges leading to a tunnel vision of things.
On the contrary, the good news is that our brain has an innate ability to rewire itself by altering neural pathways. With certain modifications in our behaviors and habits, we could add-on our close distant focus to farsighted focus on things.
A few tips that can help us do this are:
Recognize device addiction: If you are glued to your devices like smartphones or any other wearable at a dinner table with people around or moving along with them at home/ work all the time, watch out for device addiction! Things that you do to keep yourself physically and psychologically healthy like eating, sleeping or exercising must not have device interventions as the more you have them around, the more your conviction towards your core activities during the day reduces because your attention gets diverted.
Practice to sense far: While the most evident behavior is to appreciate what you see the closest, pushing yourself to see more and beyond a limited distance could help you gather more information and enable proactive thoughts to solve critical problems. This could be practiced in simple ways. When you walk on the road, compliment looking at the nearest object with looking at the farthest object as well. This continuous practice would help program your brain to see farther.
Be in the present to build future: Your strong impulse of opening a message that pops on your small screen gadget while you are in an in-person interaction may divert your attention from the conversation. Your endeavor in such instances must be, giving least attention to such distractions. Just be present at ‘the moment’. Do not let your attention go anywhere else when you are intending to build relationships or looking at long-lasting solutions to problems. Hence, be in the present to build your future.
Enjoy a device free hour a day: Decide to spend at least one hour a day with someone or with nature. Ensure you do not touch, see or hear any device during this hour. Use this time to connect with someone face to face or with nature like the greens, waters, sky and other natural beauties. One hour device free a day may help you consolidate your attention span and rewire your habits of looking into the small screens.
Create screen free spaces: You may create certain device free spaces at work or home that may keep you away from small screens and reduce the impulse of giving most of the focus on them. These could be the cafeteria, physical game rooms, yoga rooms, gym etc. These areas do give you a break from the screens, therefore, reduce the urge to look at them more often.
Following all of these tips may or may not necessarily guarantee farsightedness but it would at least give us a start to make a choice, take a decision of looking at things and people beyond tunnel vision. So, we could revive the innate ability all of us possess, to see more with less. As said by Regina Brett, ‘Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn't looking down at a device in their hands? We've become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture and the people right in front of us.’