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SFH #193: The Battlefield for Your Attention
Some thoughts from my weekend in Vegas 💭
I just got back from Vegas late last night. My plane landed at 3:30 am EST, and I was in bed at 4:30 am, happy as a camper. I slept until 9ish, got up, and felt refreshed. Why did I feel so restored? My educated guess is that I was back in my comfort zone and out of the pulsating energy of Las Vegas.
It certainly wasn't my first trip to Vegas. I've been there at least a dozen times since I went for my 21st birthday and amassed some stories (saving those for another time).🥳Over time as my interests and values changed, I had dwindling reasons to go back. This time indeed confirmed that my energy doesn't align with being in that 'hub of attention-grabbing.'
What's this got to do with you and your health? You might be saying, 'I don't go to Vegas.' or 'I don't have an issue with being there for a brief and fun time.'
Vegas is a manifested 3D version of what you have on your person all day. Heck, you are probably reading on your attention hub right now. I'm not pointing fingers or blaming you. We live in the same attention economy, and I'm scrolling and reading to confirm my beliefs and assuage my fears and uncertainty in this world. So, why not just tell you to get off your phone a little more or offer a few tricks to moderate? I'll get there at the end. 😜
The first thing that stood out was my inability to sleep. Vegas isn't just designed to grab your attention; it's designed never to let go. A casino floor is a veritable blue light, seizure-inducing forest of financial ruin. That may seem like harsh criticism of the experience, and the truth is it's a challenging and powerful environment to navigate. How can you not stay up when the sensory overload tells you that your choices are to play, consume, watch, or miss out. Translated to our phones—the more attention we pay to them, the less we can give to ourselves and our most genuine needs. And sleep seems to be one of the ultimate prices. There is an entire faction of the health industry focused on teaching you how to optimize your sleep and avoid the modern world's circadian pitfalls.
The next thing that stood out to me was the size of the slot machines in the airport. They have gotten much more prominent (actually much taller). What's this mean? We didn't gain several inches on the average human height. There is no functional reason for them to be larger except for....your line of sight. This is why I named the blog 'the battlefield for your attention.' How will you possibly look up from your smartphone unless the slot machine is twice as big and 10x more colorful and attention-grabbing? The same thing is happening to us on the virtual consumer level. Only it's not the physical size that gets us (though one could argue that point around the larger smartphones and tablets); it's the newest app that fills that productivity or entertainment void. Look at how many different services or apps you have to watch your desired program. In my household, there is Disney+, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu, YouTube, and NFL Redzone. Again, I'm in the same boat as you. I am doing my best to be healthy yet still need to 'fill the void.' 🤷♂️
Finally, the most puzzling thing to me in Vegas was the lack of decorum and conduct in public on the strip. As regular readers, you know how much I love being outside, so I made it out every day to walk or run the strip. Since the pandemic started, I've spent most of my time in Portland, New York, and Miami. This was the first time I noticed a significant modification in the way people presented themselves in public. I've walked the strip many times in years past, and it has always been eclectic. This time there was a noticeable surge in more leisurewear and exposed body parts (not a big shock from a COVID hit society). Yet more surprisingly, there was more excessive daytime drinking, at a level reserved for beach time spring breaks. People always drank on the strip; I've never seen it like this. I'd only be speculating on the specific environmental and cultural reasons why this transition happened. What I will say from a health perspective is that when we concern ourselves more with what we can do to fill the void from the outside, we spend less attention on the inside. I personally notice that when I focus on my inner game and less on the outward distractions (my phone is a big one), I feel more grounded and confident in my skin. I know that translates to how I present myself in the world. It can be a simple smile on my face to a pep in my step. This is where I felt the misalignment from being in Vegas. I wanted to have a fun, healthy time being myself, yet I felt surrounded by an environment that offered a less healthy and authentic experience.
Where is the battlefield for your attention taking place? Where are you losing ground? Where would you like to give more attention to your health?
Some quick tips related to getting our attention and rhythm back from our phones and other stimulating distractions that light up the night.
Blue light glasses.
Phone out of the bedroom.
Overhead lights are off or dimmed down as the sun goes down (or at least a couple of hours before bed).
Watch the sunset.
Catch some sunlight in the morning.
Reconsider that trip to Vegas 🤪