The Cost of Overstimulation…

I attended bible study today where the Pastor referenced the following article:

B Shiv, “Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making”, JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc., Vol. 26, December 1999.

The basic premise to this paper is that when we are over stimulated the higher rational thinking centers in our brain become distracted and unable to protect us from the more primitive irrational behaviors of the of our more primitive minds.  This is born out in grocery stores where we are over stimulated with colors, smells, and sounds, and end up coming out of the store with stuff we never intended.

He went on to mention how life is currently designed to overstimulate.  The downside: our input become distorted as we have trouble absorbing all of the information , we learn how not to focus, and we have trouble operationalizing the truth we do have because the higher centers of our brains are so distracted and over burdened.

It was a fascinating bible study session (and I will edit this post later with more content from the session), and we were left with a  primary and a secondary homework assignment:

  1. Start the day with 5 minutes of quiet stillness.  Even better if you can find similar space in the evening as well. And share your experience with comments below.
  2. If you happen to watch TV count the number of scene changes in a minute.  It may be helpful to note the difference between commercials vs programs.  It may also be helpful to note the difference between new and old programing.

Also feel free to share any other insights from the first in this new bible study series.



  1. I counted one commercial and the screen changed 11 times. I have shared this with my children because I am very concerned about their attention span. They are more aware of this issue overstimulating their brain and now and we are going to work together to come up with a plan to help them concentrate better. Step One. Not allowing as much television. We are sitting down to see what nights it will be allowed.

  2. I have to admit when going through the exercise of quiet stillness for the 5 minutes I felt extremely silly. The ideal of slowing my mind and thoughts down where I am aware of the quietness is something I am not use to doing. I am use to my mind constantly racing and thoughts switching from one thing to another. I guess that is one thing that I have to work on, because I often times feel exhausted not only mentally but physically as well.

  3. Tiffany Haney says

    Pastor Lane is challenging me about the pace of my life and I am becoming more aware of my environment. A few days ago I drove without my radio on and I noticed so much more and saw how distracted other people were in the process. Trying to find more moments in my life to be quiet.

  4. Emmanuel Dizon says

    I realized how difficult it was to sit still for five minutes after attempting to do this upon awakening in the morning. I also agree that we are overstimulated in this current day and age and this is evidenced by our inability to concentrate longer than a few minutes.

  5. Crystal Baskin says

    I am so happy that I started the 5 minutes in the morning cause I find myself doing at night as well. I feel peace and don’t have trouble falling asleep.

    I am now paying more attention to overstimulation. I counted how that commercials on average changed it screen 8 times. I even started watching cartoons on Saturday to see how the kids are being affected and I lost count how many times the screen changed. What tips can you give to get back to being focused and keep our brains sharp?

  6. Enoabasi Udoroh says

    I find it challenging to start my day with 5 minutes of stillness. After about 2 minutes I find myself distracted with thoughts about all the things I need to do for that day and for days to come. I am not use to stillness because I am constantly busy, and I enjoy being busy. I find that I cannot go to sleep with complete silence. I must have something to listen to, preferably talk radio. Talk radio to is engaging, and my focus is on that rather then my thoughts. I am usually sleep within ten minutes. I use my cell phone to listen to the radio, and with the radio apps, they will turn off after a certain amount of time of inactivity, and I will constantly wake up and turn it back on throughout the night.

  7. I have attempted to start my day off with the 5 minutes of stillness and like some of you, I have found it quite difficult to do this. My mind feels like it is running a marathon from the time my feet hit the floor until I get back in the bed. I am committed to this though, and was successful for 3.5 minutes this morning. I find that I can also cut the radio off when I’m riding in the car on my way to work. However, its difficult to keep my mind from being busy.

    We turned the television off for the entire day yesterday, and I must say, the day slowed down quite a bit, I listened more, I spoke more, I was more in tune with my chidren. The day didn’t seem to slip by me, I felt like I accomplished more, for some reason.

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