'Ask yourself this when you’re scrolling' - Performance psychologist Gerry Hussey on how distraction is curse of our age
“We often do things that we think are important in other people’s eyes; we abandon our own passion because of other people’s impressions.”
“[With clients] I start with a question, and I ask them ‘when you were five years old, what did you dream of working at?’ Then I say ‘why are you working here then?’”
Performance psychologist Gerry Hussey has been working with elite Irish sports people in golf, rugby, boxing and athletics since graduating from Trinity College Dublin in 2003. Most recently he's worked with the Irish Olympic Boxing team and Munster Rugby, coaching athletes to develop their full potential. If athletes are healthy in mind as well as body, he says, then they're primed to perform.
On the prevalence of mental health issues in Irish society today, he blames it on "a dis-ease, or a lack of ease" in the mind and body.
“People are getting up early, working late, working long, dropping children to creche, coming home again. This lifestyle is totally unsustainable. No one is really asking, why are people so sick?”
“I think everything starts with ourselves, the danger is we can feel we need a job to give us a sense of worth. But for me everything has to start on the inside. ‘Am I taking enough physical exercise?’ ‘Am I meditating?’ The more you manage your mindset, the more opportunities that open up to you."
“Life is constant adversity, and resilience is the ability to advance and evolve despite adversity. That has to come from me, that inner resilience needs to be built up.”
The psychologist who is one of the lead ambassadors of KBC’s WellGood programme ahead of WellFest on May 11 and 12, says goal-setting and focusing on fun and adventure are also key to a happier state of mind.
“It’s not always about finding the perfect job, it’s what’s the perfect job - for now. It’s not always about finding the perfect house, it’s about what’s the perfect house - for now.”
“We always change through life - I’m not the person I was 20 years ago so the house I have now might not have been the right house for me 20 years ago.”
“In each five-year block, focus on what’s important right now: 'I need fun, adventure, laughter'. In order to win, I need to ask: what’s important now?”
Good sleep hygiene, mindful morning routines and practises during the day, and immersion in nature can be the antidotes needed for a busy lifestyle, Gerry says.
“We have to get off the carousel and stop being busy and be more present in our own life. Ask what would the best expression of my life be? I see people who are passionate about what they do and are working all the time and they’re not actually tired.”
He added: “We are natural beings, we are meant to be in nature. The more time we spend in artificial buildings in artificial light the more we move away from our natural environment.”
“What happens is we have an internal need to be distracted, we don’t have the muscle of concentration developed. You’re building the concentration muscle in your mind, and when you build that you don’t need to be distracted.”
He explains: "We just need to stop being distracted, and we just need to observe more. I would say if you’re on your phone, ask yourself when you’re scrolling, what are you looking for? What are you hoping to find in there? We need to stop that need to be distracted and having no human contact. When you find yourself scrolling through the phone, ask yourself what am I actually hoping to get and what could I get if I spend that 15 minutes somewhere else?”