Over recent months, I’ve found something that has a significant impact on my state of mind. It is really simple yet really quite profound and that thing is living in the moment.
I don’t think many of us would deny that a significant percentage of people these days are wedded to their mobiles. As a caveat, I’m one of those people (to a degree) and that really bothers me. We are undoubtedly a nation of addicts. Walk down any high street in the land and you’ll see people shuffling around with their face glued to the bright light of their phone screens. Sit in any train carriage, on any bus, stand in any queue, sit in the hairdressers, sit at any football ground in the country at half-time, sit in the audience during the interval of any live show or gig. The list is endless, though one constant remains; in each of the above scenarios, the vast majority of people will be staring directly at their phone. We are becoming zombified and we are absolutely losing our ability to take in and truly appreciate the world around us.
Think back over time, let’s say the past 12 months or so. On how many occasions have you been guilty of this? Of rabidly searching for updates, likes, comments, news-flashes, e-mails, pings, messages, weather forecasts, shopping deals, and God knows what other detail your phone feeds you on a daily basis? Perhaps you’ve been to a concert; the theatre; out for a meal; on a general night out with your partner, friends or family; on a walk with your family? These are all prime opportunities to talk, catch-up, give your undivided attention to people, and make lifelong memories. Of course, it’s much easier said than done, especially now that our phones are essentially a fifth limb for most of us, and I find it difficult at times. However, when I’ve been really mindful of this, and tried to place the phone out of reach, or turn off notifications, or stick it in my pocket on silent for a couple of hours, I’ve generally had a much better time. I also genuinely believe that when doing this, I’m much calmer and less anxious. I’m not jumping onto my phone every time an e-mail comes through, or when a text or WhatsApp message is received. Nor am I getting frustrated at the fact that no-one has bothered replying to that highly amusing meme I sent out just 5 minutes ago. It just doesn’t matter a jot when the phone is out of reach.
It may sound trite but in being mindful of this, I really have become much more appreciative of the simple things in life we take for granted. A conversation over a beer or the dinner table. Observing the outside world during a car journey (as a passenger, obviously!) or from a train carriage. Sunsets, sunrises, skylines, and nature in general. There is so much to take in and yet we’re letting it all pass us by because it’s been 5 minutes since we last checked the latest football scores or refreshed the Twitter homepage.
It may be the most difficult thing you’ve attempted in years but try to put your phone out of reach for an hour or two the next time you’re in the company of someone you care about, or even just while you’re out and about. It might just remind you that there’s more to life and that we’re blessed to live in such a wonderful world.
I’ll be loosely expanding on this next week when I’ll be writing about how getting stuff done is contagious (and also highly beneficial in terms of our mental health and wellbeing). Until then, thanks for reading and take care.