When I was young, people around me called those who interrupted in class and never did their homework, “lazy”. To lessen the sting from that horrible word, they used to add “…but with a lot of potential” to suggest that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for those students if they only buckled up and straightened their act.
In some severe cases, a kid would even be labeled as suffering from a terrible affliction called ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a disease that had treatment but no known cure. According to Wikipedia, there are a number of factors that may influence our tendency to demonstrate ADHD-related behaviors. Among them are genetics, diet, and our social and physical environments.
In Recent years, ADHD had grown into epidemiological levels as more and more cases of ADHD are uncovered each day. Nowadays, it seems as though everyone has contracted it—including a lot of adults—and as a result, the consumption of ADHD related medication is constantly on the rise in both adults and children.
According to a certain diagnosis, I have ADHD, which made reading this post a bit annoying since it was claimed in the post that ADHD is a fictitious disease, a claim that was later refuted as partly true. Why partly? Because although there’s a neurological condition called ADHD, there’s a lot of people who were diagnosed with it that don’t really fall under the category of suffering from it.
The reality is that most people are diagnosed as having ADHD because it’s convenient, because someone needs a scapegoat to blame for an inability to complete tasks and because society fails to identify it for what it really is.
You Don’t Need to Cure ADHD; It’s an Evolutionary Advantage (and please pardon my hubris)
Cure ADHD? Really? There’s no cure for ADHD because it’s part of our primordial nature. We were not designed to sit in a class and do one task at a time; we were designed to be hunters with sharp instincts who can react instantaneously to threats in an environment that’s full of them.
ADHD, or the behaviors related to that disorder, are even labeled as advantages when it comes to certain professions; specifically those that require high alert and a multichannel approach to them—like combat pilots. Those professions resemble in nature the type of tasks we used to do back when we were hunters, i.e. controlling a lot of channels and making them work together.
Nature didn’t design us to sit in an office and do one task at a time.
If we were meant to be pencil pushers, things would look totally different both in the office and in our classrooms. We’d be able to process practically everything with ease, never moving from our chair, following the rules and never disrupting the natural order of things. This would result in us not making the huge progress we’ve made through the years due to certain people you might heard of, such as Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Nikolai Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Galileo, and Sir Isaac Newton—they all had traits of ADHD.
They achieved all the things they did because they never mainstreamed; they just couldn’t.
Since we’ve all got ADHD to an extent and people with ADHD are responsible for the major changes around us, it looks like ADHD is just a misunderstood evolutionary advantage.
Why misunderstood and why an advantage? Good questions. Let’s talk a moment about cats.
Cats are excellent climbers, there’s no dispute about that, so why do they get stuck in trees so often?
Well, apparently, their claws were designed only for climbing up, not getting down. That’s why it’s really hard to teach a cat to climb down; they were never meant to do it. To learn how to climb down they would need years of evolution and an environment that will help then make that leap, so to speak.
In a similar way, we need to integrate our innate advantages into the way we learn, work, and focus, without taking Ritalin or any other drug, for that matter. We must face our environment today clear of any aids so we’ll be able to develop the skills required to face it.
A lot of ADHD behaviors have solutions in the behavioral modification department, or in other words, deal with the problems you’re having with skills instead of drugs. Let’s look at a few examples:
1# General Inability to Focus on One Task, or Complete a Task Unless it’s Enjoyable.
To fix this you have to learn how to do one thing at a time because even with drugs, you can’t help yourself from gliding away from your intended task with the first distraction that comes your way.
People who were labeled as ADHDs have the tendency to do so more than others, which is why they tend to begin a lot of tasks and projects without finishing them: they just can’t master the required focus. That said, we all have a natural tendency to think that we can do several things at once, but by taking the one task at a time approach, we make sure that we learn how to start something and complete it without falling prey to the allure of multitasking.
2# Getting Interrupted Easily
We have a lot of channels open at all times, and the more channels we have open, the harder it gets to focus on just one. That’s why people who have 50 channels open (i.e. ADHDs), get distracted easily, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another.
It’s because of our evolutionary past as hunters, true, but we long since changed our environment, remember? That’s why it’s time to move on and evolve: learn how to control interruptions.
3# Struggling to Follow Instructions and Reading Without Remembering What You’ve Read
Sometimes it strikes us out of nowhere: we’ve read an entire page without remembering what we’ve read, or alternatively, we follow a simple manual only to get lost on our way.
Who can relate?
It usually happens when we’re not interested in our reading material or performing an action that we don’t like. There are ways to learn how to remember what you’ve just read—learn them, it’s easy enough. If you have problems following instructions, try to draw a mind map. It works better with ADHDs because visualizing is easier for us due to the aforementioned evolutionary past and our sensitivity to visual stimulation.
4# Compulsion to Be Constantly in Motion
You walk when you talk on the phone, you can’t sit on your chair for long, and you browse between windows at dazzling speeds—sound familiar? Let me ask you this: how can you sit down when you’re full of sugar or caffeine? How can you focus when you fail to process basic information effectively?
Mastering the fundamental elements of focus, i.e. eating things that keep you balanced throughout the day and sleeping at night so your brain will process information properly, helps us to get better at controlling our basic impulses, thus helping us to manage excess energies and use them for constructive purposes instead of spreading them aimlessly.
There are more examples of ADHD behaviors that have solutions today in behavioral modification, so don’t go for the easy solution; i.e. medications, Ritalin’s power is limited and can only help you for a few hours, while you can learn how to cure ADHD by creating the right habits through behavioral modification.
Meds are Temporary, Habits are Forever!
Until next time.
Depriving yourself of sleep is never ever a good idea, even though in our go-go-go society people take pride in going strong on 4 hours of sleep and tons of coffee: 8 Ways to Improve Your SleepFeatured photo credit: Girl at the end of a tunnel via Shutterstock