Have you regretted a social media post, text, or e-mail? Are you forgetting things that you used to have no problem remembering? When spending time with friends, do you struggle to focus on the other person, your mind wandering in the middle of conversation?
Does your smartphone beckon you for just one more quick check of your e-mail as you head out the office door? Have you struggled with family dinner time because everyone wants to check the latest updates of the news or the picture they just posted on Instagram instead of engaging in intentional conversation?
Do you spend time alone well? Can you only sit for a short time with your own thoughts before anxiety creeps into your mind, making you fidget? Do you find yourself unable to read books and pray like you used to?
If you sighed and grudgingly answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Over the past two decades, modern technology has brought both amazing advancements and incredible challenges to our life and well-being. Information bombards us from our e-mails, smart phones, and social media accounts. But despite all of the technology around us, we’re left feeling anxious, unfulfilled, lonely, and worn out.
Christopher Blum, Professor of History & Philosophy and Academic Dean of the Augustine Institute, and Joshua Hocschild, associate professor of philosophy and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Mount St. Mary’s University, both recognized that interior peace is an area today’s world is sorely lacking in. Together, through a series of e-mail conversations, the two Catholic educators wrote A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction.
Blum and Hochschild don’t give step by step instructions on how to retreat from today’s modern technology. Their remedy for finding interior peace in today’s world isn’t shutting off phones and tuning out the world around us. Instead, their book provides readers with a practical, accessible guide to self-mastery and reclaiming interior peace in a world full of distraction and noise. Here are three areas that the authors examine in their book on regaining mental peace and interior stability in today’s world of modern media:
In the first section of their book, Blum and Hochschild discuss the virtues which help us to bring order to our external actions. They write about self-awareness, purity of heart, steadfastness, being poor in spirit, fostering reliability, and being noble.
“We have been born into a life of struggle and cannot find peace unless we first admit that we have been summoned to toil and labor, to fight and to protect,” the authors write. “We must strive to preserve life and to pursue holiness in the face of countless and daunting obstacles, both material and spiritual.”
The second section of the book discusses the human senses. In today’s world of instant gratification and social media, our senses are attacked more than ever by the world around us. Blum and Hocschild spend this section discussing the character traits of resilience, attentiveness, watchfulness, creativity, perceptiveness, and experience. They describe the senses as the soul’s windows into the world.
Blum and Hocschild discuss the important sense of hearing in today’s world full of noisiness, writing, “What we badly need, if we are to navigate this new digital age is, in the first place, to incorporate periods of silence into our days so that we can appreciate listening again and begin to attend more powerfully to what we hear and to the people with whom we share our lives.”
Finally, the third section of the book examines our deepest interior abilities as humans – knowing and willing. The goal of the entire book is mental self-discipline.
Blum and Hocschild offer practical solutions to combating a world full of distraction. “The simple solution is to limit your exposure to digital distraction,” they write. “Instead of attending to images and information, attend to your physical environment. Attend to nature. Most of all, attend to persons.”
A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction provides readers with the wisdom of the world’s greatest thinkers – each chapter of the book ends with a quotes from the Bible or a classic spiritual book. Then, readers are invited to reflect and meditate on the meaning of the chapter with questions. If you’re struggling with how to put down your phone and live in the present moment peacefully, this book is for you.