Header image source: Unsplash.com
We live busy lives these days. Move from meeting to meeting, from class to class, from task to task, from home to work to home where we work again. We are more connected than ever. Tapped into endless resources, non-stop communication, 24/7 schedules and neverending to-do lists. Our phones are usually the gateway to this world. A gateway of awe and wonder but also a gateway away from the now.
When we take a moment for ourselves, we find it hard to disconnect. We reach for our phones and thumb through Facebook, email, Instagram, news feeds without hesitation.
How much of this is habit?
How much of this is perceived productivity?
How much of this is fear of boredom?
In fact, when was the last time you were bored?
I don’t write from a position of judgement. The mirror is squarely looking back at me. I write to remind myself to be mindful. To be mindful of how I am in the presence of others. Am I truly there? Am I mindfully checking my phone or is it habit? Am I aware of what is going on around me? Am I giving them my full respect by giving them my full attention? My full attention is the greatest respect I can give a person.
I watch kids at school walk out of class and instantly they grab their phones. I watch kids sitting next to each other all on their phones looking in on other worlds instead of connecting with each other. I also watch adults do the exact same thing. I am guilty of it also. How often do you do, as Jerry Seinfeld quips in the below video, the ‘slow head down’ during a conversation?
I use my phone for everything. And it helps in so many ways. I track my sleep. Video my public speaking practice so I can provide myself clear feedback. Share ideas with the world through writing and connecting. I am now ironically also using my phone to monitor how much I use my phone. Check out Moment if you are keen to see how much you use your phone. I am a huge fan of the Quantified Self movement and my phone plays an integral part collecting data to help me grow and develop.
But I worry about the grip it has on me.
Being present in the deep now is what flow is all about. So immersed in an activity that time distorts. The stories in our head about the past and future are turned off and we just live in the present moment. It is no surprise that there is a large correlation between flow and happiness. Living solely in the past and future is a dangerous past time. We replay scenarios, conversations or dream up new scenarios and conversations. This feeds the troll.
“The worst troll is the one inside your head”
We have only this very moment. But how many of those moments do we let slip away? I just finished a fantastic book called ‘Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” by Hector Garcia and Francsec Miralles which explores the mysterious Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’. ‘Ikigai’ is our reason for being. The below graphic helps to shed some light on the concept but I implore you to check out the book.
Image source: weforum.org
In the book, I was particularly drawn to the Japanese concept of ‘ichi-go ichi-e“, which means “this moment exists only now and won’t come again”. In the context of social gatherings, it celebrates the uniqueness of an encounter. This experience won’t ever be repeated. It is beautifully unique. So live in it.
“The only moment in which you can truly be alive is the present moment”
Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh
To my future self, read this regularly and be mindful.
Live in this unique present moment.