The day is finally here, y’all. At last. After 5 days without a phone, I’m back. It’s 2017 in my life again. Maybe not the most mindful first thought to have in the morning, but definitely an exciting one. And, an honest one! So maybe there’s something mindful about that.
It was an interesting week, for sure, and not necessarily in the ways that I expected. You heard a bit about it on Wednesday, when I talked about the things I legitimately couldn’t do as well or as fast without my phone. It’s not all mindless distraction, it turns out. That thing is truly good for – well – a lot. We’re at their mercy, and that’s not all bad. And, as I realized, not entirely true, either.
Don’t worry, for your “no-fail” mindfulness challenge this weekend, I’m not going to make you kill your phone. I’m not even going to make you ignore it, as I have suggested you do in the past. I am, however, going to ask you to pay attention to what you’re doing with it, and when.
Not having a phone made me realize how often I reach for it when I’m bored, or anxious, or avoiding something, like even the discomfort of waiting. It also flagged for me how often I use my phone to create efficiency, however. I left for a meeting at a place I’d never been to with just a few seconds to spare, and realized I had only a vague idea of where I was going. I’m so used to having my phone right there to tell me where to go, at a moment’s notice. This time, I needed to some preliminary research. Who has time for that?
Well, you used to, and so did I. But now, we budget our time differently. We do more with less of it. That has its downside, too, but when you’re being mindful about your behavior, it’s a pretty sweet setup.
So that’s the goal this weekend. Every time you reach for your phone, ask yourself why. Because it’s ringing and the screen says “Mom”? Perfect time to use say yes to using it. Because you’re at the world’s longest red light and you’re starting to sweat about making that appointment? Well, that might be a different case. Those cat videos are nice and all, but in this case, they’re an escape from what you’re actually feeling. No judgment for using them as exactly that, but the real question is: How often is that your go-to reflex?
Maybe more importantly: How does it feel to realize you’re in control of whether you do it? AND, are you actually exercising that control, or letting the reflex make the decisions for you more often than not?
The point is, check in with yourself. When you reach for your phone, know why you’re doing it. If it’s to soothe discomfort and you do it anyway, that’s ok. Really. This is a no-judgment zone. The awareness of doing it, and of why you’re doing it, is the tipping point of mindfulness. Even if you choose to zone out on those cat videos anyway, you’ve made that choice, instead of having your brain make it without you.
Our lives today are full of innovations that make life infinitely better than it was even a few decades ago. Our ability to stay connected to each other has many positive aspects to it. The issue with digital technology is that when we don’t use it mindfully, then it’s using us.
Don’t give your total brainspace over to a device that – as I was reminded earlier this week – can flame out on you anytime. As with everything we talk about here, take back your attention, and take back your power. Your battery life is better, anyway. ;-)
Photo credit: MichaelGaida