LIFE

Practicing Mindfulness By Putting Down Our Phone

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In this day and age, our devices are practically attached to our hip. We are constantly checking our phone. What time is it? What does our next reminder say? Who just texted us? Did we reply to that social media message?

We spend so much time on our smartphone, in fact, that we often forget about the rest of the world and what’s happening around us. Perhaps finding some peace of mind is as simple as committing to this…

Do more things that keep you from checking your phone.

It’s more of a challenge, really. Can you do it? Can you find things that interest you enough to keep you away from running to the screen the next time you hear that infamous ding?

Are there things we can do that are more important? Sure, there are.

So, put your device away for a moment and consider engaging in activities that will not only occupy your time but add meaning to your life.

Actually spend time with family and friends. We’ve all been there. You’re invited to a family gathering and everyone gathers. Yet no one interacts. Everyone is, ironically, seated in the family room on their phone or mindlessly attached to the TV. When did it become taboo to have your device at the dinner table but totally acceptable to drown out a family gathering in the family room? These should be areas filled with laughter and good conversation, offering space to chat and catch up… not over messenger but face-to-face. We’ve totally lost the concept of meaningful connection.

Get involved. Again, our level of social activism often starts and stops with joining social media groups and adding posts. Do you really care about an issue? Sure, 200 likes in a group forum may help spread the word but what are you doing to address it? You need to be pounding the pavement to create real waves. Get involved in local events, activities, physical advocacy groups and social clubs. Truly meet your neighbor who is interested in the same things. Connect with them and come up with ideas.

Teach others. Believe it or not, there is still capacity for in-person teaching. Kids are still going to school, sitting in a classroom and following instruction. Yes, there are many resources online, credible ones. And, yes, you can learn a lot sitting at a computer and sharing this information with others. But, you are also contributing to the loss of socialization in society. We are teaching the next generation that knowledge is power but networking is nothing more than nice to have. So, students are entering ‘the real world’ with zero communication skills. They are checking their phone in the waiting room before being called in to an interview and asking to finish a text before they head back. They are sitting across the table from industry influencers and clamming up, because they cannot consult their phone when answering questions. We are promoting introverted personalities because ‘connecting’ over a device doesn’t truly count, thus allowing the concept of power in numbers to completely die out.

Help yourself while you can. By allowing yourself to continuously check your phone everywhere you go and in everything you do, you are fueling an addiction. And it’s a powerful one. The more this becomes acceptable to you, the more you will crave the dopamine released from the brain every time you do it, and the more irritable you’ll get whenever you can’t check your phone. This is a very real, physical reaction to something the body believes it cannot live without and is no different from the effects of any other addiction. It’s a vicious cycle that will only lead to depression and anxiety, which will both intensify over time. So, while an addiction to the perceived must-haves on our computer or phone may seem harmless at first, we are truly hurting ourself. And we cannot logically condemn the behavior of someone who is addicted to sex, shopping, a toxic relationship, or substances while fueling our own demons. It’s total hypocrisy. We only have control over our own actions and need to self-reflect to improve.

Try to turn off your phone more and more throughout the day and keep it out of reach. Create pleasure elsewhere, so you can live a happier life. It’s that simple.

Sara E Teller
the authorSara E Teller
I am a credited freelance writer, editor, contributor, and essayist, as well as a novelist and poet with over fifteen years of experience. A seasoned publishing professional, I've worked for newspapers, magazines and book publishers in content digitization, editorial, acquisitions and intellectual property. I have been an invited speaker at a Careers in Publishing and Authorship event at Michigan State University's College of Arts & Letters, and a Reading and Writing Instructor at Sylvan Learning Center. I have an MBA with a concentration in Marketing and am currently pursuing an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. For more, please visit my blog at sarateller.com.

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