Distractions are everywhere, especially online, and hackers, scammers, and Cybermonsters love when we’re inattentive, clicking on 15-20 different pages at once; answering emails, phone calls, ruminating on the past or future, ordering lunch, all while trying to multitask. Unfortunately, that’s when you or your loved ones become easy prey.
Today, the number of phishing emails containing infected links with malware that could lead to ransomware and other cyber attacks, is overwhelming. Yes, I know. The same happens with spam and scam calls, robocalls, and malicious texting, also known as vishing. They are annoying!
So how to tell if someone contacting us is an actual individual or if they are Cybermonsters trying to trick and entice us to click? My answer is Mindfulness.
Like everyone else, my life has been a series of ups and downs. As to be expected, the ups were fine – but the downs got so low that my stress level skyrocketed and my health was severely impacted.
While driving one morning in 2012, my body was there, but my mind was elsewhere. I had no clue how I got through one of the many street lights I had to pass on my way to the office. Suddenly, I noticed a car next to me and the driver was trying to tell me something. She rolled down her window, and so did I. She yelled: “You are too distracted. You have to be mindful”. I looked at her, confused, wondering why she was saying that, but I kept going and went back to the many thoughts in my head.
For most of my life, I felt overwhelmed, stressed, and always on the go with a million things to do, whether personally or in my corporate career. In fact, the busier I was, the more I took on.
I learned the hard way that distractions could lead to stress, and then more distractions pile on, which can wreck our lives.
Losing my health and wellbeing motivated me to understand and learn mindfulness practices. And finding creative ways to incorporate them into my daily life became an amusement game. Noticing simple things allowed me to enjoy myself more.
Then one day, I started to connect mindfulness with my career in technology and cybersecurity, which was the most liberating feeling. I realized that even though distractions were the norm, they didn’t have to be our way of living. Instead, we can change distractions into mindful practices that allow us to get out of autopilot when we use computers, phones, and other electronic devices.
Let’s explore what Mindfulness and Distractions are and what we can do if Cybermonsters are trying to trick us, so we don’t become easy prey!
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the mental state we can achieve by focusing on the present moment. We don’t struggle or feel stressed while in this state of mind. Instead, we simply and calmly notice and accept our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and our surrounding environment to let everything flow. It’s simple to do but not necessarily easy.
What is Mindfulness Online
Being mindful online and cultivating your inner cyber self means staying present when clicking a link, opening an attachment file, answering our phone, or sharing our information on social media. When we choose to be mindful, the struggle or stress reduces. And when we are in that calm state of mind, we can quickly notice when something isn’t right, and the signs of a cyber attack become evident, and we can make better decisions.
What are distractions
We call distractions the things that prevent us from giving full attention to something or someone. Distractions take our attention away.
Distractions are not necessarily doing something else, they could be in our minds too. Distractions could be positive in some cases when trying to relax and break from stressful routines if the distractions are intentional. However, in many other cases, distractions can be dangerous.
For example, I was in a car accident a few weeks ago that resulted from someone not giving complete attention while driving. I stopped at a red light when I got rear-ended. The driver said to me: “sorry, I was distracted.”
The irony of my accident is that a week earlier, my TEDx Talk launched where I talked about why “distractions are poison to you and candy to Cybermonsters.” Check out the video here or find it on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v46TAoZl1XI&t=590s
What are the 3 basic mindfulness exercises to prevent becoming easy prey to cybercriminals?
The first, mindful exercise is mindful Breathing. Before you use your computer, dedicate a few minutes to deep breathing exercises. It could be as simple as imagining inhaling the roses and blowing out the candles in your cake.
Second, mindful exercise is Noticing as you interact with technology. For example, are you frustrated your computer isn’t working? Are you angry because your phone battery is dead and you can’t find the charger? Do you feel anxious about the weird email messages in your inbox?
- Notice what’s around you online and offline
- Observe your environment, thoughts, and feelings.
- Become an impartial witness to your experience.
The last mindful exercise is the Scanning activation. Practice focusing on each body part, scanning and paying particular attention to your fingers as they are the instruments you use to type or click online.
Incorporating these 3 simple mindfulness exercises can reduce the chances of you or your loved ones becoming easy prey. There isn’t anything to lose and everything to gain! So would you give it a try?
I’m excited to read your comment on other mindfulness exercises you enjoy or that you are curious about. And please share the results of incorporating mindfulness when you use technology.
This is how we all can live Happily Ever Cyber!
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