Maintaining constant connection is like being hooked to an IV delivering a steady drip of mood-altering drugs. The more connected you are, the more attention you steal from other important things in your life, like performing well at work, driving safely, interacting with friends and family, or completing an important project. Researchers call this state "continuous partial attention," which can also be termed continuous partial distraction. Author and consultant Linda Stone calls it "a desire to be a live node on the network." She writes, Like so many things, in small doses, continuous partial attention can be a very functional behavior. However, in large doses, it contributes to a stressful lifestyle, to operating in crisis management mode, and to a compromised ability to reflect, to make decisions, and to think creatively. In a 24/7, always-on world, continuous partial attention used as our dominant attention mode contributes to a feeling of overwhelm, over-stimulation and to a sense of being unfulfilled. We are so accessible, we're inaccessible. The latest, greatest powerful technologies have contributed to our feeling increasingly powerless.[8] There's that word again that has such dramatic negative potential for people suffering from depression: powerless. Disconnecting is the path back to empowerment and wellness. Whether you go home with them or not is irrelevant - you probably won't like them, though. And that's because there's no reason to. They're being selfish and closed minded, and they probably weren't listening to much of what you had to say other than to close the deal. You must care and pay attention, engage in their interests and be truthfully interested in their needs, wants and desires if you want the person you've just met to like you. This is a big area that a lot of people have trouble with. The Game Changer of a Technique I've Used For Years... I want to introduce something to you I call the Credibility Magnet technique. This technique is something I have personally used in my social life--even back to the days when I was painfully shy. Back then, all I wanted to do was make friends but it was very difficult for me, with a lifetime of negative thoughts preventing me from even being able to make eye contact with others. If you want to be well liked, you need to be in a position for people to take you seriously-- plain and simple. In order to do that, you need to achieve the respect of others around you.

People who are popular have something to stand on. It might be a career that they are extremely knowledgeable in (and can teach others about). It might be your killer taste in clothes--no matter what it is, it's something that commands respect. This technique is about commanding respect, so that you immediately build credibility in the eyes of others, set yourself apart from every other person out there, and as a result, instantly make others become magnetized to you. Teach your children to swim before they dive in. Like swimming in a pool, children should not be allowed to partake in certain risky behaviors before they are ready. Test for tech readiness. A good measure of a child's readiness is the ability to manage distraction by using the settings on the device to turn off external triggers. Kids need sleep. There is little justification for having a television or other potential distractions in a kid's room overnight. Make sure nothing gets in the way of them getting good rest. Don't be the unwanted external trigger. Respect their time and don't interrupt them when they have scheduled time to focus on something, be that work or play. When my daughter was five years old and already insisting on "iPad time" with unrelenting protests, my wife and I knew we had to act. After we all calmed down, we did our best to respect her needs in the way Richard Ryan recommends: we explained, as simply as we could, that too much screen time comes at the expense of other things. As a kindergartner, she was learning to tell time, so we could explain that there was only so much of it for things she enjoyed. Spending too much time with apps and videos meant less time to play with friends at the park, swim at the community pool, or be with Mom and Dad. We also explained that the apps and videos on the iPad were made by some very smart people and were intentionally designed to keep her hooked and habitually watching. It's important that our kids understand the motives of the gaming companies and social networks--while these products sell us fun and connection, they also profit from our time and attention. This might seem like a lot to teach a five-year-old, but we felt a strong need to equip her with the ability to make decisions about her screen usage and enforce her own rules.

It was her job to know when to stop because she couldn't rely upon the app makers or her parents to tell her when she'd had enough. We then asked her how much screen time per day she thought was good for her. We took a risk by giving her the autonomy to make the decision for herself, but it was worth a shot. Truthfully, I expected her to say, "All day!" but she didn't. Instead, armed with the logic behind why limiting screen time was important and with the freedom to decide in her hands, she sheepishly asked for "two shows." Two episodes of a kid-appropriate program on Netflix is about forty-five minutes, I explained. "Does forty-five minutes seem like the right amount of screen time per day for you?" I sincerely asked. She nodded in agreement, and I could tell by the hint of a smile that she felt she had gotten the better end of the deal. Let's assume for the moment that there is, in fact, an association between two variables. What's the best way to measure the degree of association? Statisticians have developed a measure of association called a correlation coefficient, and it ranges from -1 to +1. The closer the coefficient is to +1, the more two variables are related (i.e., if one variable goes up the other variable goes up). If the number approaches -1, the variables are inversely related (as one goes up the other goes down), while a zero means there's no association.20 Once again, statistics based on empirical data provide our best means to determine if two variables are related--but a few things must be kept in mind when interpreting a correlation. Many people think that if two variables are correlated, then one variable causes the other. However, correlation does not imply causation. Just because a correlation exists between the amount spent on advertising and the sales generated by a given company, that doesn't mean the ads caused the sales. It could be that improved product quality generated more sales, and the advertising campaign happened to coincide with the improved product. In addition, causation does not necessarily imply a strong correlation. Intercourse causes pregnancy, but not all the time. However, our inherent tendency to look for causes leads us to draw causal inferences from correlations--a temptation we have to strongly resist.21 In the 1990s researchers noticed a small correlation between student self-esteem--meaning their confidence and self-respect--and school achievement. Many people immediately assumed that one caused the other, and that the causal direction was obvious.

Low self-esteem was thought to result in a plethora of problems, including poor school achievement, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy. This belief led many educational programs to focus their attention on improving student self-esteem. However, if there is a causal association between self-esteem and school achievement, the causal link is just as likely to be in the opposite direction--superior school performance may generate high self-esteem.22 And so, even if a correlation exists because one variable causes the other, we don't really know if A causes B, or if B causes A. Correlations are sometimes spurious. That is, two variables may be related to one another not because there's a direct causal link, but because both variables are related to another, third variable. Studies indicate, for example, that student performance is associated with attending private or public schools. As a result, some people have concluded that private schools are better than public schools. We often hear from public officials and other special-interest groups that we should privatize the educational process or, at the very least, subsidize private schools because they're doing a better job of educating our youth. This argument has led politicians to advocate school vouchers and faith-based initiatives that give more money to private schools. However, support for the superiority of private schools comes from studies that simply correlate student performance and type of school attended. It could be that student performance depends on a number of variables that may be correlated with the type of school attended, such as the education and occupation of the students' parents, their socioeconomic status, the quantity of books in their home, etc.23 How do we know if a student's achievement is due to the type of school or to some other variable? With more advanced statistical procedures we can recalculate the correlation of two variables after we account for the influence of other variables.24 It turns out that when variables like a student's general mental ability and home background are removed, studies find virtually no association between student performance and the type of school attended.25 And so, the use of more advanced statistics allow us to make better-informed decisions on important social policy issues. Keep in mind, however, these more advanced procedures still can't tell us if there's a direct causal link between two variables--they can only improve our understanding of the associations that exist. After sitting in the manner described and having shared your loving friendliness with everybody, take three deep breaths. After taking three deep breaths, breathe normally, letting your breath flow in and out freely, effortlessly, and begin focusing your attention on the rims of your nostrils. Simply notice the feeling of breath going in and out. When one inhalation is complete and before exhaling begins, there is a brief pause. Notice it and notice the beginning of exhaling. When the exhalation is complete, there is another brief pause before inhaling begins. Notice this brief pause, too.

This means that there are two brief pauses of breath--one at the end of inhaling and the other at the end of exhaling. These two pauses occur in such a brief moment you may not be aware of their occurrence. But when you are mindful, you can notice them. Do not verbalize or conceptualize anything. Simply notice the incoming and outgoing breath without saying, "I breathe in," or "I breathe out." When you focus your attention on the breath, ignore any thought, memory, sound, smell, taste, etc., and focus your attention exclusively on the breath, nothing else. At the beginning, both the inhalations and exhalations are short because the body and mind are not calm and relaxed. Notice the feeling of that short inhaling and short exhaling as they occur without saying, "short inhaling," or "short exhaling." As you continue to notice the feeling of short inhaling and short exhaling, your body and mind become relatively calm. Then your breath becomes long. Notice the feeling of that long breath as it is without saying, "Long breath." Then notice the entire breathing process from the beginning to the end. Subsequently the breath becomes subtle, and the mind and body become calmer than before. Notice this calm and peaceful feeling of your breathing. In spite of your concerted effort to keep the mind on your breathing, the mind will likely wander away. It may go to past experiences, and suddenly you may find yourself remembering places you've visited, people you met, friends not seen for a long time, a book you read long ago, the taste of food you ate yesterday, and so on. As soon as you notice that your mind is no longer on your breath, mindfully bring it back and anchor it there. However, in a few moments you may be caught up again thinking how to pay your bills, to make a telephone call to your friend, write a letter to someone, do your laundry, buy your groceries, go to a party, plan your next vacation, and so forth. As soon as you notice that your mind is not on your object, bring it back mindfully. Following are some suggestions to help you gain the concentration necessary for the practice of mindfulness. In a situation like this, counting may help. The purpose of counting is simply to focus the mind on the breath. Once your mind is focused on the breath, give up counting.