The most productive times in my life I was only focused on doing one thing.
The times of most frustration in my life I was chasing several goals at once.
It seems to me that it’s like a laser beam. It works because it is a massive amount of power focused on a a very small area.
Remember burning leaves with a tiny plastic magnifying glass? You’d just adjust the magnifying glass up or down to narrow the size of the beam. The small the beam the more powerful it was and before long the leaf would be burning.
Of course my brother and I would sneak the beam on each other and try to burn each other.
People talk about how a women can multitask. I suppose that’s true. Why does that work for her? Well, her entire focus usually is on her family and all those tasks are toward them. Therefore, she has one focus and doing many things at once for them.
Even in biblical times this was true. Jesus taught, “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light.” Luke 11:34 KJV
Kinda explains why the magnifying glass works. Or mom raising her family. Or you creating a life’s legacy.
Light bulbs have become a modest fixation for me. I hate anything that approaches fluorescence with a passion. I grew up in an incandescent world courtesy of one of the world’s greatest inventors Thomas Edison. And, frankly I would have preferred to finish under the somewhat golden light of a glowing filament. Thanks to a government that outlawed my favorite light source, I have become a hoarder of incandescent bulbs.
By now you are wondering what depression has to do with light bulbs and Tom Edison. The answer is that Edison made it economically practical to stay up long after dark. Our bodies are made to cycle up when the sun rises and cycle down when it sets. Edison made it possible for us to fight against our circadian rhythm. As I write this it is dark outside and if there weren’t twenty-three light bulbs over head and a big screen television in the corner, I would probably be asleep. And, that would be normal.
What isn’t normal is that I will stay up and watch the 11:00pm news and then set my alarm for 5:45am to knock me out of bed so that I can get to work. That is 6 hours and 15 minutes of sleep and it isn’t enough. It is also may be a prescription for depression.
In a couple of studies published in the journal Sleep, researchers looked at the relationship between the number of hours people sleep and their risk for depression. One study of 4,100 subjects between the ages of 11 to 17 found that sleeping less than 6 hours increased their risk of depression. Another study of twins with a family history of depression found that sleeping a normal amount of 7 to 9 hours cut the risk of depression from 53% to 27%.
As we seek to help people who come for counseling with complaints of depression and anxiety, one of the most important questions we need to ask is “how much are you sleeping?” I routinely tell counselees and patients that I may not be able to tell them what is wrong with them unless they change their life habits and get 8 hours of sleep a night for at least 2 weeks. If they cannot do this on their own I send them to see their doctor for a good medical work up and appropriate medical care.
Most of us do not sleep nearly enough. And, it generally is not because we could not if we allowed the time. We have become a people who routinely burn the candle at both ends. Maybe, we would all be in a better mood if we just turned the light off and went to bed earlier.
By Dr. Charles Hodges
Author of Good Mood Bad Mood