In this episode, I sat down with author, speaker, Stanford grad and professor, Nir Eyal. I had the pleasure of reading a pre-released copy of his latest book, Indistractable. It’s a must-read for anyone, like me, that has trouble putting your phone down. We can’t expect our kids to have a handle on the screen thing unless we hold ourselves accountable too. My family’s screen use and struggles have been reduced by half because of Nir’s impact. You guys are going to love him. Enjoy!
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About Randi Rubenstein
Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.
She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.
At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.
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Also, the schedule maker tool I mentioned is here: https://nirandfar.com/schedule-maker/
And distraction guide here: https://www.nirandfar.com/distractions/
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You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein and special guests. Nir Eyal episode 79.
My name’s Randi Rubenstein and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast where we believe when your thoughts grow the conversations in your home flub.
So a ping on your phone takes you out of a conversation with a friend at the office, a colleague interrupt your work on a project at home Screens and trued on time with your partner, your goals don’t get done, and it feels like someone or something is constantly pulling you away from what you really want to do. Why does it seem more, no longer in control of our attention or are lives Nir Eyal wrote a book on how tech companies get people hooked after years of teaching at Stanford Eyal. Now Reveal’s the Achilles heel of distraction and his new book Indistractable ALA is Baird. The secret to finely doing what you say you will do. It all provides a practical plan for getting the forgetting the best of technology without letting it get the best of us.
0 (1m 6s):
And Indistractable he provides the recipe for mastering what he calls the skill of this century, a graduate and instructor in Stanford, graduate school of business Nir Eyal has studied and taught behavioral design With and to industry leading experts and scientists. He writes consultant teaches about the intersection of psychology technology and email@example.com. So thanks for coming on the podcast. Pleasure this whole, like once I was like, yes, is it because I just here’s my pre release copy.
2 (1m 39s):
Yes. I like it. All of those tabs and notes. I love it. That’s some of my favorite kind of guppies to see. I love it.
0 (1m 45s):
Let me tell you something. And you guys sent me this last week. I read it in three days.
2 (1m 49s):
Wow. That’s awesome. Thank you.
0 (1m 52s):
No, and it was, it was so good. It’s so good. And when I read this the way the intersection of psychology technology and business yes. It’s like, it was all of my favorite things. And I mean, including when you, when you started talking about triggers and the brain, and in my book, I talk about, I use the term distraction. Like there’s so many commonalities that ay, you just never know. I mean, I would never have looked at this book and thought this is going to have so many things in common with the book I wrote on Parenting.
2 (2m 27s):
Right. Yeah. I’m, I’m so curious to hear what you thought about the section on Parenting on, on raising Indistractable kids.
0 (2m 33s):
Yeah. I thought it was great and I think it’s timely. And I mean, personally, I have three teenagers, so I have so many questions for you and I just want you to share all your goodness. And before we even started recording, I was telling me, or that my husband actually heard Nir on business radio and just happen to tell me, he said, I heard this guy. And he was really an awesome, so smart. So polished you’d really like them. And then coincidentally, a week and a half later, your people got in touch with me and said, you wanted to come on the podcast. And I was like, okay, this has meant to be, so I really want you to do most of the talking here because you’ve got so much goodness to share with us and then,
2 (3m 19s):
And liked it. So it’s interesting because I kind of have a two audiences, right? So I’ve got the, the business folks who read, hooked and want to learn how to build habit forming products. But then I’ve got a Also this audience of, of parents and a husbands and wives who want better relationships with each other better relationships with their kids. And so I kind of have these multiple audiences. So yeah.
0 (3m 41s):
Well, you hit me on multiple levels because obviously I’m interested as a mom with my three teenagers and technology is a big source of contention in our lives as a human I’m constantly trying to stay on task and not be so distractible. And the business piece I’m super interested in too, because I’m all about how do I get the people that come in to my community, hooked on my information and see that learning is fun because where I attack my processes, behavior change, which as, you know, like it’s hard to make behavior change, you know, I’m, I’m, I constantly am learning for ways to reach the people in the easiest way possible and to get them hooked on my learning and then actually taking action.
0 (4m 32s):
2 (4m 34s):
This is such a great place to start too, because I think, you know, before I wrote Indistractable, as I do with every book idea I have, my first step is to read every other book on a topic because I don’t want to read a book that’s already been written, right? If somebody’s done a great job with a topic and answered the question that I had to my satisfaction, well, why do I need to write that book again? That’s silly. So with Indistractable I read every other book on this topic. You can see them here in this video feed all of these books that I’ve read on the topic. And they basically also the same thing. It’s the technology, that’s the problem. Technology is melting. Your brain technology is bad for you technologies this technology that it’s all the big tech companies fault. And I got sick of it because even when I tried to excise technology for my life, right, I’ve got a, a, a flip phone in Alibaba, a that’s a, it’s like $12.
2 (5m 18s):
So, you know, phone that only takes and receives calls and text messages, no apps. I got a, a, a, a work processor here. I got the word process from eBay that doesn’t have any internet connection for the 1990s. This thing was made. And I sat down and I was like, okay, now I’m going to get my work done. Now I’m going to not going to be distracted anymore because I don’t have all this modern technology. And you know what? I still get distracted because I would say, Oh, there’s that book I’ve been meaning to read? Or let me just organize my desk for a quick sec, or let me just take out the trash. And I kept getting distracted because I hadn’t dealt with the real source of distraction. And this is the real problem. The real distraction that we have today is the distraction of thinking that technology is the problem that before Facebook, nobody ever got distracted, come on.
2 (6m 5s):
That’s ridiculous. Distraction is a really old problem. Socrates and Aristotle talked about 25, a hundred years ago. They taught, they called it a cross-out, which means the tendency to do things against our better interests. So this is not a new problem, but it does require some new solutions because the mediums have changed. The, the format has changed. But what I really wanted to do with this book was to dive deeper than a simple answers. We have so many simple answers about, you know, th th th what’s going on in the world these days, and there’s no room for nuance. And I think we really miss some of that nuance because, you know, look, the answer to every complex question in life is always the same answer. It depends, right? But it’s, you need to dive in to really understand something, not just stick with these superficial analysis, particularly when it comes to parenting, right.
2 (6m 47s):
That, you know, all the media tells us is, is that technology is rotting, our kids brains. You know what? The research doesn’t show that this is true at all. There’s really nuanced here yet. It’s not good for some people in some situations, depending on what they do, but there’s a lot of, of nuance there that we should get into before we make these sweeping generalizations.
0 (7m 6s):
<inaudible> well, and it’s such, it’s easy to blame. When you say in a place of blame, then you don’t have to take any personal responsibility and its kind of like you’re off the hook.
2 (7m 18s):
Yes, yes, that’s right. I mean, this is why I start that Parenting section with the, the, ah, kind of a list of falsehoods that we parents love to believe. And I started with, and by the way, I’m, I’m the father of an 11 year old little girl. And so I was guilty of this before I actually dove into the research. So one of the most pervasive myth is this idea of that sugar high, that if kids can have a lot of sugar or are they just act crazy and they know the terrible things and there’s nothing controlling them because the sugar has got their brains. And ah, it turns out that study after study and mete studies have studies have all concluded. There is no such thing as the sugar height, except except on parents that parent’s in fact behave differently when they believe their kids have been given sugar or even when they were given a placebo.
2 (8m 12s):
So they did the studies where they gave kids a, a, an inert substance that tasted sweet, probably some kind of artificial sweetener or something. And I’m sure they, they made sure that that had no a known effects on behavior. And then they told the parents of their kid had just had a bunch of sugar. So the parents believe the kid was having a sugar high and they want to just observe the parents. And while the kids didn’t behave differently at all, they did nothing differently. They found that parents who believe their kid had had more sugar and believed in the sugar high, this didn’t work for parents who didn’t believe in a sugar, high berated, their kids, they followed them around. This is Johnny. Don’t do this, don’t do this. They constantly nag them because they thought, ah, you see, this is why my kid is acting crazy. And so there’s, there’s all of these myths that we parent’s like to believe.
2 (8m 55s):
Cause it, like you said, it kind of takes us off the hook. And, and unfortunately many of us just stop it at a superficial level that if I just take the phone away for my kid, if I just, you know, stop them from playing fortnight, then that’s it there, the problem will be solved. And it turns up the problem is way, way deeper, uncomfortably deep for a while.
0 (9m 12s):
It’s funny that you bring up Fortnite. I like what you wrote about, and I don’t know exactly how you mean. You can expand on how you put it, but like the kids have to be in the driver’s seat when we start putting all these restrictions on them. And really a lot of what I gathered, you know, that you were talking about is having PRODUCTIVE conversations. Don’t just lecture and dictate and take away, right. Involve them in this decision making process this week has been a fortnightly this week. And, and it it’s been interesting to see how he’s kind of noticed the withdrawals from it, the boredom, like having to work harder to make conversation with friends or to hang out.
0 (9m 53s):
I dunno, the whole thing. Yeah.
2 (9m 56s):
I think it, it brings up a lot of these. This are so, so one thing that is really important to note that there, because it has been a lot of misinformation about a screen time and the effect of screen time on kids, what mental wellbeing. So just to be clear, there have been zero studies that show deleterious effects from two hours or less of extracurricular screen time. So if your kid is playing to hours or less of an age appropriate game or some kind of online activity, by the way, simple thing, just write off the bat. Don’t let your kid use a service that the service makers tell you not to let your kid use before a certain age. Right?
2 (10m 36s):
So I for the life of me, I can understand why parents let their kids use Facebook and Instagram and all of these social products. When the makers themselves say, don’t let your kid use this before 13. Okay. That is the age. If not later, that kids would have access to this stuff in the first place, right? We don’t want to give like any medium. We have to wait until the child is ready. I’m not going to let my kid walk into a library even, and just read any book. There’s a lot of books out there that an 11 year old is not ready for. So we have to make sure the content is appropriate. But assuming the content is appropriate, there is no study that links any deleterious effects of two hours or less of extracurricular screen time. Now what about the excessive amounts? We do see studies that find that when it comes to really excessive use three for five hours a day of, of, of extra curricular screen time, we do see some negative correlations with, with a decreased sense of wellbeing.
2 (11m 30s):
It’s a very minor effect, but it is there. So it’s something to be aware of. So we want to ask ourselves, why do, are kids overuse? Why or what’s going on here? Is it the tech that’s really hijacking our kids’ brains? Or is there something else going on? So first thing that’s helpful to understand is some historical perspective that we have been having the same exact fights for generations Randi and my generation, the fights we were having were about super Mario brothers. And before that it was the remote control because we only had, you know, one TV in the house. And before that it was what channel on the radio. And before that in previous generations, it was, you know, it just goes back on and on and on and on. There’s always been this, this, this, these disagreements around kids wanting autonomy and freedom from their parents to make their own choices.
2 (12m 15s):
So if that has been an age old struggle, at least in Western civilizations, by the way, we don’t see this as much in pre industrialized society, but it, this is always something that’s coming up. We should dive deeper because this seems to be a persistent trend way before Fortnite way before Facebook what’s going on. And what’s really going on is that children are missing. They are deficient in this country in what I call psychological nutrients. Psychological nutrients comes from, this is my term for some very old research. That’s been out since the 1970s called self-determination theory by Dessi and Ryan. This is the most widely studied theory of human motivation.
2 (12m 56s):
And self-determination theory says that for, for psychological wellbeing, we all need three things. We need competency, autonomy and relatedness, not just kids, but also adults competency, autonomy, and leading us. So these are these three psychological nutrients, just like we need fat carbohydrates and protein, the three macro nutrients, nutrients for our body’s. We need these three psychological nutrients for our psychological wellbeing. So if we know that these things are necessary, what we also know is that when people are deficient in the psychological nutrients, this is called the need’s displacement hypothesis. They go searching for them online if they can’t find them offline.
2 (13m 39s):
So think about kids lives these days. I’m giving kind of a very short summary that, that you read it already. But for the listeners out around this chapter and my, or the section of my book on how to raise the Indistractable kids. And when we think about today’s the day that the society with which kids are being raised today, you know, one thing that has correlated with the rise of a smartphone is Also the rise on standardized testing, but it also occurred around 2006, 2007. Well, when we constantly tests are kids with these standardized tests, there’s a significant portion of kids who are told you are not competent, right? You are not good enough. And so where do they look for that sense of competency where they can, where can they feel that they’re good at something?
2 (14m 22s):
Well, the gaming company say, well, we’re happy to provide you with that sense of competency, just play roadblocks or Minecraft. And now you feel competent, look where you can do right agency. There is data there’s a Peter Gray. Did. These are some of the amazing work around how many rules are enforced upon our kids’. The average American child has 10 times as many rules and restrictions as the average adult, twice, as many as an incarcerated felon, there are only two places in society where we tell people legally what to do, where to go, what to think, who to be friends with, what to wear, what to eat all day long and that’s school and prison.
2 (15m 5s):
And so are we surprised that our kids come home and are desperate for some sense of autonomy. We all need it for our psychological wellbeing. When you think how annoying it is, when your boss micromanages you, right? It’s really annoying. You want freedom. So you rebel. And so it, what are the kids do well in, in, in my generation, we would break things, right? We would vandalize. We have to do all kinds of terrible things outdoors. Well today kids do it indoors. They look for a sense of autonomy through the games they play, right? So fortnight gives you a sense of autonomy. You control this universe and that feels good to your psyche. We need this. And again, if you don’t get it on the offline, we get it online.
2 (15m 48s):
And then finally, relatedness. Relatedness is this need to be understood by others and have on others, understand us. Well, you know, there has been a crisis of play in this country. It used to be when I was growing up, when I was a kid that the neighborhoods of this country were singing with the sounds of kids playing. You don’t hear that anymore. It was this case a few months ago of a parent’s getting arrested to parents who have home-schooled kids and their kids walked to a local park about a mile and a half away. And these parents were arrested for negligence for letting their kids go to the park unsupervised. This is what we’ve come to in this country. We are so scared by the media that something is going to happen to our kids.
2 (16m 32s):
They’re going to be abducted, even though this is the safest time in American history to be a kid it’s never been safer so that we do two things. We either keep them indoors. And then we’re surprised they want to go online when we’re jailing them up in doors, or we overschedule them right. Where they were putting them in Kumon and swimming lessons and karate in Mandarin all day. And so they’re constantly either supervised by some grownup or a coach. And so they’re there. They don’t have these ability to exercise competency in the world and autonomy and relatedness because there is no free play. So are we surprised that they’re looking for a place to relate to others, to connect with others?
2 (17m 15s):
Fortnite? I think there’s a terrific example. I don’t know if you’ve ever played Fortnite. We are with your kids. Most of what kids do on Fortnite is talk to each other, like we used to do on the telephone as teenagers, right? We’d get off the phone and we would just be talking to each other, also seeking that sense of relatedness. So I don’t doubt that technology clearly plays a roll here, but that’s the proximate cause the root cause of why kids overuse technology is because they are not getting sufficient amounts of their psychological nutrients have competency, autonomy and relatedness. And one final factor. We are a big problem, us parents, because if I am checking my email account, while I tell my kid to put our way their phone and stop checking Snapchat, I’m a hypocrite.
2 (18m 4s):
And they can see that. And we as parents need to learn how to become Indistractable. If we have any hope of teaching our kids, how to become a Indistractable as well,
0 (18m 12s):
My kids call us out on the hypocrisy and we put the parameters in place, but that’s the big one. And I’ll tell you is my youngest son who called me out the most. And I wasn’t even thinking about it. And I remember when he was in fourth grade, I would pick him up from school on, on Tuesdays. I had a call every Tuesday. And so I was trying to be a supermom, which I was like, Oh, in this day and age with all of this technology, I can do my call while I’m in the carpool line. And it’s all fine. And he said to me, probably about a month in, he said, mom, I would rather, you just get me a ride with someone else, picked me up and be on the phone.
0 (18m 55s):
And it was a big wake up call from him.
2 (18m 58s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll tell him, I’ll tell you my own story. So the reason I decided I have to write this book, I had an afternoon with my daughter and we sat down together. We had this book of activities that daddies and daughters could do together. You know, make a paper, airplane, all these different activities together. And one of the activities was to ask each other this question, I’ll never forget it. The question was, if you could have any superpower, what superpower would you want? And I don’t know what she said, because just in that moment, I’d gotten some ping ding or a ring on my phone. And I started checking my device and I wasn’t there. And she got the message loud and clear that my phone was more important than she was.
2 (19m 39s):
So she’d left the room. She started playing some toy outside. And next thing I knew, I looked up when I kind of became aware of what went on. She was, she was gone, she’d left. And so that was really the turning point in my mind that, you know, look, I know how these products are designed from the inside. And I still think we can use these devices for good. And there’s a lot of good we can do to create healthy habits in users’ lives. But we also need to become aware of when we overuse these things. I actually a reader of My an early reader of my book. Somebody who helped me edit it said, Oh, let me, let me tell you a story that happened in my house. After you told him, after he read the story of my daughter and I, you know, I, when I asked her a, from this book, what superpower would you want?
2 (20m 21s):
He asked, is it the same question? What super power would you want of his daughter? And she said, she’d want the power to talk to animals. And he said, power to talk to animals. And that’s a funny, super power. Why? And she said, so that when you and mommy are on your computers, I’ll have someone to talk to God. And it killed me. But
0 (20m 44s):
Out of the mouth of babes, it’s
2 (20m 46s):
Like, they feel it or they it, and we can do something about it. This is the big point of this message. We can take it two ways. We can either say, well, we can either be blamers or shamers. Okay. The blamers. So you see it as the big tech companies, Facebook is, my phone is doing it to me. Or some people say their shamers. They say, Oh, you know what? I have a short attention span. I have an addictive personality. There’s something wrong with me. I must be broken. You see, this is evidence that I can’t control myself. And neither of those answers are, are correct for the vast majority of people. There are some exceptions, right? There are some pathology, some people are actually pathologically addicted. Some people really do have obsessive compulsive disorder, very small percentage of the population, thankfully. But yes, some people do actually have a pathology, but for the vast majority of us, 95 to 99% of us, there’s nothing wrong with us.
2 (21m 33s):
And there’s nothing wrong with these technologies. We just don’t know how to put them in their place. And that’s why I wrote this book.
0 (21m 40s):
Well, just, just after reading it, it’s already improved my life. Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, you know, I’m not a super detailed person, so it never even occurred to me to go through and go through all the different apps and take off the notifications. Yeah. And just making that shift and some of the other things that you have suggested, I’m like, I never thought of that. And I mean, I never, I never thought of it. And so some of the little hacks that you offer in the book, I’ve been doing them and have been talking to my kids about it. They were already, we already were really big on when you do homework, you know, not sleeping with Screens in your room. And when you do homework, putting it on, do not disturb.
0 (22m 22s):
Right. Right. Putting all your devices on, do not disturb when you do your homework. So I’ve always been big on that, but it never occurred to me to turn notifications off. So that shift has been huge for me.
2 (22m 33s):
How long did it take you? I’m I’m curious to, to do that, to go through your apps and change in the notification settings.
0 (22m 37s):
And I’ll tell you, I had already done Facebook a long time ago because my private Facebook groups for my business. So I, other than that, I really don’t go on Facebook much, but so except for Facebook, every other notification was on. I will say it took me maybe seven minutes.
2 (22m 55s):
Other than that it’s and you’ve probably saved how many hours of distraction from, Oh, there’s one little thing. Let me just open this quick app real quick. So that the, the message here is not that this stuff is evil and bad and you, you, you know, you have to stop using it. No, no. All I’m saying is use it on your schedule, not on the app makers. If you want to play candy crush, play candy crush, or do it, but do it at a set time of day. So on my calendar every day, it says at 8:00 PM. That’s my time for social media. I love social media. It’s great, but I don’t want to use it every time. These goddamn app makers ping in, ding me to turn him off. They can wait and you use it at a time in your schedule.
2 (23m 37s):
That’s good for you so that you have to be, you know, that there’s this great quote in the book. I can remember who said it unfortunately, but the quote is the time you to waste is not wasted time. So playing candy crush or checking your work email, or doing whatever it is you enjoy doing with your phone is wonderful, but do it at the time of day or night that you want to do it. Not every time they get one of these pings and dings.
0 (24m 1s):
Well, I think that segues into a part of your book that really captivated me And is really is, is in super alignment with what I teach, which is the part that you wrote about why time management is pain management. And what I wanted to say is, is the pings and dings and notifications, why it has affected my life so much in this short amount of time since I took them off is I know that I shouldn’t be going on every, when I see a little red bubble, however, the time management and pain management, that really rings true for me because when I’m sitting down to do a task and I saw that grit, Gretchen Rubin wrote it, wrote something really nice about your book.
0 (24m 53s):
And I love her. And I’m a rebel tendency. I love her for 10 minutes. You’re a rebel tendency. Yeah. So as a rebel tendency, like I defy all expectations and right. And so when I’m sitting down to do something that I don’t necessarily want to do, but I need to do, and I get one of those little red bubbles, it’s so difficult for me not to give in to that moment of like a little pleasure hit just a tiny, is it just, it relieves that pain of, I don’t want to do this thing. I don’t want to do this thing. And so it’s so easy for me to procrastinate and give into the red bubble.
0 (25m 34s):
And so if you could talk a little bit more about that time management pain management.
2 (25m 40s):
So in order to understand why we don’t do the things we know we should do right in general. Right? So, so, so let’s, let’s back up a little bit. What, what are we mean? We use this term distraction. What are we, what does that term actually even mean to understand what distraction is? You have to know what the opposite of distraction as the opposite of distraction is not focused. The opposite of distraction is traction, both traction and distraction come from the same Latin root <inaudible>, which means to pull. And you’ll notice they both end in the same five letter word action, distraction, traction, both end of the word action, reminding us, these are things we do. Not things that happened to us.
2 (26m 21s):
So traction is any action you take that pulls you forward, right? The things that you do with intent, things that you want to do with your time. Anything else that is not traction is a distraction. So you get traction and you got distraction. Now what moves us to either traction or distraction are two things. All our behavior is spurred by either an external trigger or an internal trigger. External triggers are these things that our environment, the pings dings rings and things that prompt us to either traction or distraction. If you get a notification on your phone and it says, Hey, time to hit the gym, terrific.
2 (27m 2s):
That’s traction. That’s moving your towards that. And what you planned to do with your time. However, if you get a notification on your phone and like I did, when I was with my daughter and I wanted to play with her, and now it took me to distraction. Cause that’s something I did not want to do. I did not want to be checking my phone at that time. I want to be fully present with this person. I love very much. Now that moved me towards distraction. So external triggers are a big part of how we make sure we, we get more traction and less distraction, but the most important part of this interview, hi, our model of how do we become Indistractable? How did we become the kind of people who do? What we say we’re going to do is to master our internal triggers. Internal triggers are these uncomfortable emotional States.
2 (27m 45s):
That again, prompt us either traction or distraction now, to understand why we get distracted. We have to understand why we do anything. The reason we do anything, the source of motivation is not what most people think it is. Most people think if I say, okay, what, what, what’s the nature of motivation? Why do we do things? Why do we act? Why don’t we do any behavior? Most people will tell you some version of carrots and sticks. This is called Freud’s pleasure. Principle, that everything we do is, and the pursuit of pleasure in the avoidance of pain write seems like common sense, except neurologically speaking. It’s not true. We do not know. We do things because of the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, everything we do, everything we do, it is done out of a desire to escape, discomfort.
2 (28m 34s):
That’s it. Even the pursuit of pleasure, wanting to feel something good is in fact, on comfortable, craving, wanting a desire. There’s a reason we say that I have Hertz because neurologically speaking, that’s exactly what’s going on. The brain spurs us to action by creating psychological discomfort. So when your feeling lonely, you can check Facebook when you are uncertain, you Google. When your board, you check the news or you look at Reddit, Pinterest sports scores, all of these things cater to an uncomfortable emotional States. So that means if all behavior is spurred by a desire to escape discomfort, that means that time management is pain management.
2 (29m 21s):
Okay? And I can teach you every productivity tactic. There is out there. None of them will work. So you master your internal triggers. If you can’t figure out what it is that you’re escaping. Let me tell you the reason I started using my phone when I was with my daughter was not because of my phone. There was stuff going on inside me. The icky sticky truth is that I didn’t want to deal with them. And my escape from that uncomfortable sensation, maybe it was too much time with my daughter. Maybe it was a stress I was experiencing to my business. I had to be very honest with myself and come clean with why exactly. I couldn’t sit for 10 minutes without getting distracted. But it was because of this principle that distraction starts from within.
2 (30m 3s):
So that has to be where we started.
0 (30m 6s):
And I tell this to people all the time. I say we’ve been sold a bill of goods and we, we just, we want our kids to be happy. We want to be happy when a big part of life is about experiencing discomfort.
2 (30m 20s):
Oh, thank you. Randi this is so perfect. I couldn’t agree more. You know, this is what drives me up the wall. When it comes to the self-help and personal productivity business, the industrial complex of selling more books and gurus is that, you know, they tell us that if were not happy, if were not satisfied, we are not normal. Right? Nothing could be further from the truth that evolutionarily speaking, we are designed for dissatisfaction. And it hurts us when we believe, Oh, I’m not happy all the time. Something’s wrong with me? No, you are designed that way. If there was ever a branch of homosapiens who were satisfied and said, no, I’m good. I’m happy.
2 (31m 1s):
Our branch of homosapiens probably killed in a thumb, right? Because satisfaction is not evolutionarily beneficial. So what does this mean? What it means that we need to acknowledge the fact that we are designed to be perpetually perturbed. And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that same sense of restlessness that helps us achieve things. Look, meditation is a very effective technique, but if all you do is meditate all day and don’t actually fix problems in the world, well, then nothing changes. We need to also act, right? And so we need these internal triggers. We can leverage them to help us do great things in the world, but we also need to make sure we don’t let them get the best of us. So we only have two choices, right?
2 (31m 41s):
One, we need to acknowledge first and foremost that this is totally normal. And there is either the talking about these list of cognitive biases that make us this way. But so the first thing we can do is we can learn tactics to cope with that discomfort. We can reimagine the trigger, we can reimagine the task and we can reimagine our temperament. I give you tactic’s for how to do all that. So that’s one thing you can do is to re-imagine the internal trigger itself to think of it differently so that you can cope with discomfort. However many things we can change, we can change the source of that discomfort. And so we don’t want to short change ourselves, as we say, Oh, well, let’s just meditate and be mindful all day because some things we actually need to get up off our butts, stop meditating and change the world and make sure that we don’t have this constant source of internal triggers that leads to distraction.
2 (32m 28s):
So that’s why there’s a whole section in the book about how to have Indistractable relationships by dealing with some of these deeper issues, how to have an Indistractable workplace. One of the most common sources of these internal triggers is crappy workplace culture that keep people constantly on edge, because they’re scared. I want to do people do when they are scared and fearful and anxious and uncertain, they call meetings. They send e-mails because there’s nothing else that can do. That’s what they do for a sense of agency in control. They get themselves distracted and everybody else distracted because they are looking for psychological escape
0 (33m 6s):
Here, here. I mean the, the eye, and I’ve already shared this with my son, with my older son. I loved surfing the urge. I loved when you talked about surfing the urge, because what I talk about a lot of times is when you learn to experience discomfort, what you find is it usually takes somewhere around 90 seconds for a negative emotion to move through your body. Right? But we just don’t typically know how to just feel it, notice it and allow it. It’s very uncomfortable to even think about how to deal with it. So I loved how you explained surfing the urge.
0 (33m 46s):
Can you go in and out a little bit?
2 (33m 47s):
And I use this literally every day, this is a technique I didn’t invent this technique of this actually comes from acceptance and commitment therapy. It’s a very, well-studied set of techniques for coping, with discomfort. And so the way back when I talked about it, you know, these two things that you can do, you can either change the source of the discomfort, or you can learn techniques to cope with a discomfort For sources. You can change. So, you know, feeling discomfort is a perfectly normal, perfectly human. How can we deal with it in a healthier manner? So if I experienced a temptation to do something I don’t want to do, right. Temptation towards distraction, as opposed to attraction a for example, let me give you a real life example. So writing for me, as hard as I have written two books, it never got easy.
2 (34m 28s):
It never became an effortless habit, right? It’s a routine, but it’s not a habit. Cause it, writing is really hard work. And every day when I sat down to write, I’m constantly tempted to, we just Google something real quick. Oh, let me just check your email for a second. Right. And so instead of giving in to that distraction, what I do is to first acknowledge that sensation. Okay. So it’s totally normal. I’m feeling frustrated. I’m feeling anxious, I’m feeling bored, whatever it might be. Let me just sit with that for a minute. Let me get curious about it. Most people get contemptuous about it and they say, Oh, you see, I’m messed up. I have a short attention span. There’s something wrong with me. Right? They approach it with contempt as opposed to with curiosity. And then what I try and do is I use technology to help me get control over technology.
2 (35m 12s):
So I’ll say something like, Oh, you know how to set my timer on my phone and say, set the timer for 10 minutes. This is called the 10 minute rule. Again, I didn’t invent that. It comes out of acceptance and commitment therapy. And in those 10 minutes, I can either get back to what I was doing. The thing that was on my schedule that I was going to do with my time, or I can just sit and feel that sensation for a little bit and use this technique that you mentioned called surfing. The urge where all I need to do is just pay attention to that sensation, whether a boredom anxiety, just to get curious about it, don’t judge yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Just get curious. And in those 10 minutes, what 99% of the time happens is that by just surfing the urge by just acknowledging, okay.
2 (35m 53s):
I feeling a little bored right now. This is an uncomfortable emotional state. It’s simply an internal trigger, which crests and passes and just feeling that sensation by the time that 10 minute timer is up, I’m back to work, right. But if you know, on occasion, I do this by the way, with food, I’ve struggled with food my entire life over the only the past few years, I I’ve got it under control that I’m in the best shape of my life since I started writing this book, but I was clinically obese at one point in my life. And I use today the same, very same technique. When I see a little there’s a dessert I really want, I can have that dessert in 10 minutes of surfing. Nir
0 (36m 26s):
Yeah. I feel like that piece is hard for people to conceptualize and really Get and it, you only get it once you start doing it and you see, you know, and I think this probably ties into motivation. Once you see the effects and the results of surfing the urge, I think that helps you to buy in and then want to try it more and more and more when you do it. Right?
2 (36m 55s):
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s just one of many, many techniques. I mean the most important part of the book, whether you by the book or not is the strategy or tactics are, or what you do strategy is why you do it. And so, you know what I want to really paint the picture I want to paint into people’s minds is this idea of traction versus distraction, internal triggers and external triggers. If you understand that, that is what guides your behavior in life, everything you do, whether it’s traction or distraction, you can come up with your own tactics. Now I give you lots and lots and lots of tactics and all kinds of kinds of things that you can do to make it super concrete. But you can also develop your own tactics. The idea here is to come up with your own solutions to your own problems, right? Nobody is gonna solve these kinds of problems for you.
2 (37m 35s):
I can, I can lead you to water, but I can’t make you a drink. The idea, the idea here is that you will also continue to get distracted. I still get distracted from time to time. Becoming Indistractable does not mean you never get distracted. Okay. Becoming Indistractable means you are the kind of person who strives to do what they say they will do. Do I still get distracted are of course, at least once a day, something will distract me, but here’s the kicker. I never get distracted by the same thing twice. Right? There’s that saying? That insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Why do we like idiots? Keep getting distracted day in and day out complaining that it’s the big tech companies doing it to us or our bosses or this or that, or whatever excuse you want to put in without doing something about it.
2 (38m 22s):
Well, for most people, they don’t have this picture in their mind that they can use to say, Oh, I gave into my internal trigger. Oh, I didn’t make time for traction or, Oh, I know what it was. I didn’t hack back the external trigger or I should have prevented the distraction with a pact. It’s those four steps or there’s just four of them that we use to become Indistractable
0 (38m 42s):
I thought, I think that it’s a very empowering book. Thank you. I really do. And I feel like it is the opposite of victimhood in this. I think I hear a lot of parents who feel powerless when it comes to technology. When it comes to winning the war on technology with their kids and they feel at a loss and they are thinking the tech giants are just smarter than them and there’s nothing they can do. And then they don’t want their kids to feel left out because they don’t have Fortnite to talk about with their friends. And I felt like this really is the opposite of victim energy. The boat is really the opposite really empowers you too, not, not Ridge yourself of technology to use technology for good and to do it on your terms and to have open PRODUCTIVE conversations, empowering conversations with your kids.
0 (39m 40s):
So you can be on the same team and you can stop fighting about it. And, and just as we have a final five and we wrap up, I would love to know if, if you could share your biggest piece of advice for parents who feel like they are powerless and they are losing the war against technology with their kids. What’s your biggest piece of advice for them
2 (40m 6s):
That they are not perilous that we have because we’ve had shoved down our throats, this narrative, that these companies are doing it to us, doing it to our kids. And the reason is really ironic if we think about it, because where do people get this information from? They get it from news outlets and how the news outlets make money. Exactly. They run ads and those ads are sold to advertisers in exchange for your attention. And what was the business model again? A Facebook. Oh yeah, that’s the same exact business model. In fact, the traditional news media that hates on technology is there competition.
2 (40m 48s):
They have an incentive to tell you how terrible these technologies are. So be very careful about these technologies, these headlines that get a lot of clicks, right? To get a lot of shares because fear-mongering works. We have, what’s called a negativity bias. We love getting scared about this kind of stuff and entering into an, a moral panic about this kind of stuff. But it just, ain’t true. As someone who has spent five years looking at the research, the, the research is just not there. The one thing that is unequivocal, however, is that when we believe that we are powerless, it becomes so, and there are studies done on alcoholic’s. Okay. And of course the alcohol is a much more addictive than, than video games are on Facebook or for night or any of the stuff.
2 (41m 32s):
You know, we are not Facebook here. We are not injecting Instagram, right? Alcohol enters the bloodstream passes through the blood brain barrier a lot more addicted when it comes to a substance, we ingest versus some kind of behavior on a smartphone at the end of the day. But studies find that the number one determinant of whether an alcoholic can stay in recovery after rehab is not there. Level of physical dependency has nothing to do with how much alcohol is in their system, or it was in their system. The number one determinant is their belief in their own power to change. So when we give these tech companies the power to believe that they are hijacking our brains, when we get into this narrative, that it’s addictive, that it’s doing this to us, we are making it a true, this is called learned helplessness.
2 (42m 25s):
And people stopped trying to say, Oh, this is the algorithms, these geniuses. And in a Silicon Valley, they’re just doing it to my kids. What are we going to do missing? And that’s what they do. They don’t make any efforts. And it turns out its not that hard. We’ve just got to do something. And these steps of mastering your internal trigger, making time for traction hacking back the external triggers and preventing distraction with pacts are not that hard. Anyone can do them with just a little bit of work. So that’s the message I really want to leave you with is that the super power? If you were to ask me today, what superpower I would want the superpower, I would want his, the power to become a Indistractable and that’s why I do the work I do.
0 (43m 3s):
I love it. I love it. Thank you for doing the work that you do. Thank
2 (43m 6s):
You. My pleasure. I would say it’s a great honor to be here. Thank
0 (43m 9s):
You. And thanks for being on the podcast. I know my, I know my listeners are going to love it. Thank you. All right. Bye bye. So if people want to find out more, can you let them know how they can find you?
2 (43m 21s):
So my blog is near and far.com. My first name is near so near and far and near spell, like my first name N I R a is my blog. And then if you want specific information about the book, Indistractable how to control your attention and choose your life. You can go to Indistractable dot com. That’s spelled I N the word distract a B L E. So Indistractable dot com. There you’ll find all kinds of free resources, whether you by the book or not all kinds of free things, you can download like an 80 page workbook, whether you by the book or not. There’s also a video, of course, all kinds of stuff there, a way that will help you on your journey to become Indistractable
0 (43m 56s):
Perfect. And I will have all that linked in the show notes as well. And my last, last, last question is, is there going to be an audible book coming out
2 (44m 7s):
If there is, in fact it’s available right now on audible or is it your voice? It is my voice. Yes.
0 (44m 13s):
Okay. Okay. Good. Good, good, good. Okay. Thanks again for being here.
1 (44m 18s):
Have you read my book, the parent gap. Have you listened to my book for the parent gap? I doubt you’ve listed because my publisher hadn’t released it yet on audible. However, I have the audio version of a parent gap that I would love to send to you. You can download it at Mastermind Parenting dot com For slash book that’s Mastermind care team.com/book for your free audio version of the parent. Get your welcome. Hi.