FEATURED ARTICLE: How Information Overload Robs Us of Our Creativity

Recent studies have documented some of the consequences of our attachment to iPhones and other devices. The Atlantic has some scary articles about the dangers of iPhones for post-Millennials and the ability of smartphones to reduce your brain power even when they are turned off.

But wait, there’s more . . . especially for writers and artists. Part of the problem with the devices and screens on which we’ve come to rely is information overload . . . and this can damage creativity. An article in Open Culture proclaims:

[I]nformation overload keeps us mired in noise…. This saps us of not only willpower (of which we have a limited store) but creativity as well.

Drawing on recent studies and experiments, the article continues:

Our brains have limited resources. When constrained and overwhelmed with thoughts, they pursue well-trod paths of least resistance, trying to efficiently bring order to chaos.

When it comes to information and knowledge, sometimes less is more. What we need to do is unload:

When our minds are “unloaded” . . .  such as can occur during a hike or a long, relaxing shower, we can shed fixed patterns of thinking, and explore creative insights that might otherwise get buried or discarded . . . Getting to that state in a climate of perpetual, unsleeping distraction, opinion, and alarm, requires another kind of discipline: the discipline to unplug, wander off, and clear your mind.

It seems that the internet and smartphone age will need to birth a new spiritual and creative discipline . . . that of (literally) unplugging.

Read more.

Reflection: How do you practice the discipline of unplugging and wandering off?



Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, or just “be” better, I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.


Keep Not Quitting via Sarah Bessey (perhaps you, like me, really need to hear this message)

When You Don’t Have It All Together: How to Live a Flourishing Life via Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel (a guest post for Ann Voskamp)

3-Minute Retreat: Living in Freedom via Loyola Press (take a 3-minute guided online retreat)

The Spirituality of Imperfection via Clint Sabom (this is a spirituality I can wholeheartedly embrace!)

What the Enneagram Can Teach Us About Beloved Community via David Potter

7 Things to Do When You Want To Give Up (Instead of Giving Up) via Brian A. Klems (practical advice from Writer’s Digest)

11 Brutal Truths About Creativity that No One Wants to Talk About via Benjamin Earl Evans (very thought-provoking and myth-busting)

Books by Christian Authors of Color via Deidra Riggs (check out this awesome reading list!)



Have you noticed how many people talk or even boast about being busy? Work and productivity, it seems, are our new status symbols. If you’re not constantly working, you’re lazy or, worse, failing in life. We no longer know how to slow down and rest. I’d go further and say that we’ve lost the meaningful rhythm of work and rest that defines a healthy spiritual life.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a Silicon Valley strategist, suggests that it’s time to rethink rest. He comes at rest from a productivity angle, but what he says applies to creatives and people of faith, too. As summarized in a recent article, Pang says that rest can, paradoxically, help us get more done. It is not simply the negation of work:


[O]ur cultural view of rest influences our relationship to rest, creating an aversion—the mistaken belief that rest is for the weak. Because we mistake rest as the opposite of work, we avoid it. This view, however, is flawed.


The critical thing to recognize is that when we are letting our minds wander, when our minds don’t have any particular thing they have to focus on, our brains are pretty darn active. When you do things like go for a long walk, your subconscious mind keeps working on problems. The experience of having the mind slightly relaxed allows it to explore different combinations of ideas, to test out different solutions. And then once it has arrived at one that looks promising—that is what pops into your head as an aha! moment. The people I looked at are able to construct daily schedules that allow them to draw on that process in little increments.


Our society’s cult of busyness means that we must fight for rest, Pang says:


Rest is not something given to you to fill in the cracks between work . . . You have to resist the lure of busyness, make time for rest, take it seriously, and protect it from a world that is intent on stealing it.


Pang even suggests that a (gasp) shorter work day would help us to be more productive.

I’ve always thought that from a faith perspective, rest is not just a productivity issue but also a trust issue. Adele Calhoun, who defines rest as a spiritual discipline, writes, “Rest can be a spiritual act—a truly human act of submission to and dependence on God who watches over all things as we rest.”

Have you made rest an intentional part of your spiritual and creative life?

Read more.


We all know that social media has changed the way we interact with other people. In many cases, these changes are positive: for one thing, we don’t even have to get dressed before saying hello to our friends and acquaintances in the morning! On a more serious note, social media helps us meet people all over the globe and make new social and business connections. I’ve benefited a lot from this kind of networking.

Yet social media problems like internet addiction and low self-esteem are on the rise. A new study summarized in the Harvard Business Review appears to confirm that Facebook use (the study remains focused on this particular social media outlet) leads to a decline in personal well-being. Social media can’t substitute for face to face interactions in the real world. I’ll remember that as I go schedule this post on Twitter and Facebook . . .

Here are some findings from the study:


Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.


Overall our results suggests that well-being declines are also matter of quantity of use rather than only quality of use. If this is the case, our results contrast with previous research arguing that the quantity of social media interaction is irrelevant, and that only the quality of those interactions matter.


While screen time in general can be problematic, the tricky thing about social media is that while we are using it, we get the impression that we are engaging in meaningful social interaction. Our results suggest that the nature and quality of this sort of connection is no substitute for the real world interaction we need for a healthy life.


Besides all this, we should remember that more social media time leads to less writing time . . . right?

Read more.


We’re often told, these days, to try to live in the present. We know we shouldn’t dwell on the past or fret about the future. In fact, so much of contemplative prayer is about being present in the moment, in the now.

But as people of faith, there is a way in which we should also be future-minded. We’re aware that our best self lies ahead, in the person God is creating us to be. To look to the future is to keep hope alive.

This applies to other areas of our life, too. Leadership coach Peter Bregman says that for the sake of the work and the projects we really care about, we need to practice being our future selves. We should move toward what we’re becoming, even if it doesn’t feel very productive right now.

So . . . what is it that you see in your future? Do you want to write? Keep writing, even if you don’t think you’re very good. Don’t put if off! Walk toward your future writerly self.


If you want to be productive, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Who do I want to be? Another question is: Where do I want to go? Chances are that the answers to these questions represent growth in some direction. And while you can’t spend all your time pursuing those objectives, you definitely won’t get there if you don’t spend any of your time pursuing them.


Here’s the key: You need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediately apparent return to your efforts. In other words — and this is the hard part — if you want to be productive, you need to spend time doing things that feel ridiculously unproductive.


Sometimes you need to be irresponsible with your current challenges in order to make real progress on your future self. You have to let the present just sit there, untended. It’s not going away and will never end.


Read more.


Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, then I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

Friday Favorites for Prayer and Writing

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, then I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@edcyzewski) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

Seasons of the Soul via Adam McHugh

How Gratitude Made Ann Voskamp a Contemplative Activist

Tips for Handling a Toxic Co-Worker (The contemplative response? compassion)

Thoughts on Contemplative SilenceThoughts on Contemplative Silence

Sleepy Wasps and Ecclesiastes via Tanya Marlow

10 Predictions for the Days After November 8 (Deep breaths folks…)


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Featured Article: How to Face Digital Addiction

This week’s featured article discusses the possibility of a digital addictions disorder (DAD) that could impact roughly 5% of Americans and could impact as many as 30% of people in countries with frequent internet use.

Heavy internet gaming and social media use can distract us from work, interrupt our relationships, and ultimately change the ways that our brains function and seek pleasure or rewards. While most of us need to be online for one reason or another, we all need to recognize the signs of a problem.

Here are a few key quotes to consider from the article:


“A digital addiction is comparable to addictions such as food or drugs in its obsessive nature. As is the case with all addictions, they influence the brain – both in the connections between the cells and in the brain areas that control attention, executive control and emotional processing. It triggers the release of dopamine, providing a temporary “high” on which addicts become dependent.”


“Being stressed out or suffering from anxiety and depression can be a contributing factor in the development of addictions. In addition, people who suffer from DAD are often no strangers to other addictions such as alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling. People who have relationship issues also seem to be at a higher risk of developing an internet addiction. They use digital “connections” to boost their spirits and to escape from their problems.”


Read more…

Featured Article: Understanding What It Means to Be Busy

There’s a good chance you’ve said that you’re “busy” in the past week, and definitely within the past month. However, what exactly are we saying when we are busy? And what is the true cause of this way of living?

In an interview with Zen Habits, author Jonathan Fields shares a number of reflections on what it means to be “busy”:


“Being busy, alone, need not be a bad thing. What makes it good or bad is why we’re busy, what we’re busy with, and what we’re giving up along the way.

Being busy as a reaction to the compounding agendas others, to what they’ve chosen to heap into our lives, without considering whether any of it matters to us, that’s a problem. It drops us into a state of mindless autopilot busyness, reacting rather than responding.”


“Did you choose, “I will begin checking my email first thing before I get out of bed, and then respond to what everyone else says is important today?” Was there a moment where you said to yourself, “I will respond immediately, in real time to every email that hits my inbox, every to-do I’m tasked with and every status update on Facebook?”

Not likely, you just started doing it, and the technology that supports this behavior is the perfect intermittent reinforcement machine. In short order, it becomes habit.”


Read the rest here…



Scripture Meditation: The Intentional Pursuit of God

Praise the Lord! I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them.
Psalm 111:1-2

How do we become aware of God’s presence in our lives?

First, we prioritize time spent in Christian community, giving thanks together for the ways God has been present and provided for us. As our faith struggles or falters, we’ll find encouragement through the stories of God’s faithfulness among others.

Second, we grow in our delight of God by pondering the ways that God has been at work in our lives.

We shouldn’t be surprised that we struggle to see God at work if we don’t take time to ponder his presence each day.


For Reflection