David Brooks is the author of an interesting New York Times article on his personal search for ways to neutralize the distracting power of the Internet.
Brooks came across a Paris Review interview with Adam Phillips, a former child psychologist.
Children are propelled by desires so powerful that they can be frightening. “One of the things that is interesting about children is how much appetite they have.”….
The lesson from childhood, then, is that if you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say “no” to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say “yes” to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else….
The information universe tempts you with mildly pleasant but ultimately numbing diversions. The only way to stay fully alive is to dive down to your obsessions six fathoms deep. Down there it’s possible to make progress toward fulfilling your terrifying longing, which is the experience that produces the joy.
This is something I’ve thought about for a long time – that positive feelings are a killer weapon for maintaining high focus and strong performance. I welcome the “terrifying longings” that drive me to train with concentration and joy.