What's more, martial arts teach self-control, and progressing within the discipline makes you more able to defend yourself, which can provide a confidence boost. There are many types of martial art to choose from, whether it's a 'softer' style, such as aikido, or something 'harder' like taekwondo. Each has its own individual benefits: find one that suits you. Dancing is one of the most fun ways to keep fit, and it releases plenty of feel-good endorphins, too. It can be as simple as putting on your favourite tunes at home and dancing around the room, or you could try a class. Jive, jazz and salsa classes are all great ways to get fit and meet new people, and fitness fusion classes such as Zumba are also very popular. Getting fitter and better at your chosen style is a sure-fire confidence boost. The way we think of ourselves also has a profound impact on how we deal with distractions and unintended behaviors. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research tested the words people use when faced with temptation. During the experiment, one group was instructed to use the words "I can't" when considering unhealthy food choices, while the other group used "I don't." At the end of the study, participants were offered either a chocolate bar or granola bar to thank them for their time. Nearly twice as many people in the "I don't" group picked the healthier option on their way out the door. The authors of the study attributed the difference to the "psychological empowerment" that comes with saying "I don't" rather than "I can't." The results were similar to those in the voting study: "I can't" relates to the behavior, while "I don't" says something about the person. To leverage the power of identity to prevent distraction, we can enter into what I call an "identity pact," which is a precommitment to a self-image that helps us pursue what we really want. There's an old joke that goes, "How do you know someone is a vegetarian?" The punch line: "Don't worry, they'll tell you." You could replace "vegetarian" with any number of monikers, from marathoner to marine, and the joke would still ring true. I was a vegetarian for five years. As anyone who has tried a meat-free diet knows, friends always ask, "Don't you miss meat? I mean, it tastes so good!" Of course I missed meat! However, when I began calling myself a vegetarian, somehow what was once appetizing suddenly became something else. The things I once loved to eat were now unpalatable because I had changed how I defined myself. It wasn't that I couldn't eat meat; I was a vegetarian, and vegetarians don't eat meat.

When I made this identity pact, I was limiting my future choices, but saying no to meat was no longer difficult. Rather than being a chore or a burden, it became something I simply did not do, much in the same way observant Muslims do not drink alcohol and devout Jews do not eat pork--they just don't. By aligning our behaviors to our identity, we make choices based on who we believe we are. With that in mind, what identity should we take on to help fight distraction? It should now be clear why this book is titled Indistractable. Welcome to your new moniker! By thinking of yourself as indistractable, you empower yourself through your new identity. You can also use this identity as a rationale to tell others why you do "strange" things like meticulously plan your time, refuse to respond to every notification immediately, or put a sign on your screen when you don't want to be disturbed. These acts are no more unusual than other expressions of identity, like wearing religious garb or eating a particular diet. It's time to be indistractable and proud! In effect, the reporting practices of the media can exacerbate the public's mistrust of science. The media typically reports the results of a single study, making it seem as if it's the consensus view. If a later study contradicts the first, we naturally tend to question what science tells us. However, the fault lies not with the science, but with the reporting and our interpretation of those reports. While scientists are noted for being conservative in interpreting a study's findings, the media and the public tend to exaggerate the implications of the results. For example, after initial research found that listening to Mozart marginally improved students' scores on one type of test, and for only a short period of time, the media played up the benefits of classical music. Before long, conscientious moms were playing Mozart symphonies to their unborn babies. Scientists also seem to disagree on many issues because the science they currently conduct operates on the frontiers of what we know. There are obviously many things that scientists agree upon, things that are so well established from past science that they are accepted as fact. We know that the Earth revolves around the sun and that blood circulates through our bodies.

Quite naturally, scientists are interested in other issues--they want to discover the unknown. Since this is where uncertainty lies, consensus is more difficult to come by. But this is also the work that will advance our knowledge. Now that we've examined what science and pseudoscience do, let's recap their differences. Science differs from pseudoscience in the evidence required before a belief is accepted, as well as in the plausibility of its arguments, the testability of its hypotheses, the amount of skepticism and criticism employed, and the benefits it has provided to us. UFO researchers claim that scientists are too closed-minded to believe in alien encounters. But are they? In fact, astronomers are extremely interested in finding what's "out there." They have built elaborate telescopes like the Hubble, sent out space probes, and listened for signs of intelligent life. In fact, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project has been listening for radio signals from space for many years. This endeavor is science because it attempts to find hard evidence for the existence of alien civilizations. Given the immense size of the universe, it's certainly plausible that other life-forms exist somewhere in the cosmos. On the other hand, to believe that aliens are abducting individuals on this planet is to fall prey to pseudoscience. The physical evidence in support of this claim is suspect, and it's highly implausible that aliens are beaming thousands of individuals into spaceships hovering above the Earth, without detection and without anyone being reported missing. A fundamental difference between the two approaches is that science doesn't accept the existence of aliens without hard evidence. Pseudoscience does. In science, testable hypotheses are developed so that they can be disproved. In pseudoscience, the hypotheses advanced are often not questioned even in the face of negative evidence. For example, when psychics and mediums are put in controlled situations, they fail to demonstrate any facet of extrasensory perception, beyond what you would expect from chance. Instead of accepting these results as evidence against the existence of psi phenomenon, psychics explain them away by claiming that the skeptical investigators conducting the experiments give off "negative energy," preventing them from performing better. In effect, the psychics set up a situation where they can't be tested.

For every test conducted, they provide a reason why it won't work. But, as we saw, if a claim can't be tested, it's worthless. You feel that there really is a whole other realm of depth and sensitivity available in life; somehow, you are just not seeing it. You wind up feeling cut off. You feel insulated from the sweetness of experience by some sort of sensory cotton. You are not really touching life. You are not "making it" again. Then even that vague awareness fades away, and you are back to the same old reality. The world looks like the usual foul place. It is an emotional roller coaster, and you spend a lot of your time down at the bottom of the ramp, yearning for the heights. So what is wrong with you? Are you a freak? No. You are just human. And you suffer from the same malady that infects every human being. It is a monster inside all of us, and it has many arms: chronic tension, lack of genuine compassion for others, including the people closest to you, blocked up feelings and emotional deadness--many, many arms. None of us is entirely free from it. We may deny it. We try to suppress it. We build a whole culture around hiding from it, pretending it is not there, and distracting ourselves with goals, projects, and concerns about status.

But it never goes away. It is a constant undercurrent in every thought and every perception, a little voice in the back of the mind that keeps saying, "Not good enough yet. Need to have more. Have to make it better. Have to be better." It is a monster, a monster that manifests everywhere in subtle forms. Go to a party. Listen to the laughter, those brittle-tongued voices that express fun on the surface, and fear underneath. Feel the tension, the pressure. Nobody really relaxes. They are faking it. Go to a ball game. Watch the fans in the stand. Watch the irrational fits of anger. Watch the uncontrolled frustration bubbling forth from people that masquerades under the guise of enthusiasm or team spirit. Booing, catcalls, and unbridled egotism in the name of team loyalty, drunkenness, fights in the stands--these are people trying desperately to release tension from within; these are not people who are at peace with themselves. Watch the news on TV. Listen to the lyrics of popular songs. You find the same theme repeated over and over in variations: jealousy, suffering, discontent, and stress. Life seems to be a perpetual struggle, an enormous effort against staggering odds. And what is our solution to all this dissatisfaction?