God Designed Us to be Mindful
"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”
”Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
God enabled humans to be thoughtful, mindful, high-level conscious beings. He imbued humans with a soul (Gen. 2:7) and an ability to be conscious of ourselves, God, and the world around us. The Bible calls on us to exercise this ability when it regularly asks us to “consider,” “rest,” “pray,” “meditate,” and “remember” (Rom. 6:11; Psalm 37:7; 1 Thess. 5:17; Psalm 77:11). Furthermore, we see additional commands throughout Scripture that detail what it looks like to love God “with all your mind,” implying that Christians should be continually learning on an intellectual level about their faith.
In Philippians 4:8, Paul calls Christians to “dwell” or “think” on the good things. The Greek term used here for “think” is logizomai which is an accounting term meaning “to count.” The term can be rendered “to give careful thought to a matter, think (about), consider, ponder, let one’s mind dwell on.” The list that Paul gives in this verse is what God intends for every Christian to use his or her thought time on, but like all aspects of the Christian life, we will need to work to develop this type of mindset. To be mindful about the things of God will require regular periods of solitude and concentration to create space for reflection.
When we inundate ourselves with lots of screen activity, we decrease our ability to be mindful. Not only does the sheer amount of time that we spend doing mindless activities on the screen take away from time to be mindful, but the more we expose ourselves to the screen, the more we lose our ability to concentrate for any lengthy period of time. Most activities on the screen involve clicking or scrolling from one page, picture, or video to the next quickly, therefore breaking our concentration intentionally. Nicholas Carr writes in his book The Shallows,
“Every click we make on the Web marks a break in our concentration, a bottom-up disruption of our attention…I'm not thinking the way I used to think. I feel it most strongly when I'm reading. I used to find it easy to immerse myself in a book or a lengthy article. My mind would get caught up in the twists of the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I'd spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That's rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do."
It’s clear that being online allows us to be connected to an endless amount of information, but with that comes a cost: the loss of the ability to think deeply and focus in our daily lives.
There is a reason why this is happening to so many of us. When interacting with pleasurable stimuli like we do during screen time, the human brain gets a dopamine rush. Screens provide a virtually infinite supply of stimuli that can provide this dopamine rush. However, non-screen activities that require sustained attention do not provide that same rush. So the more we condition ourselves to regularly feel that rush of reward, the harder it will be to maintain a long attention span.
Questions for Reflection:
- When do you most notice difficulty concentrating? What times are the most challenging for you?
- In what ways do you think “dwelling on the good things” in line with Philippians 4:8 would enhance your life?
- What kinds of “good things” would it be helpful to ponder and be more mindful of on a regular basis?