Last month, I had the pleasure of attending Oprah Winfrey’s second-annual Super Soul Session at UCLA’s Royce Hall.
It was an amazing day full of wisdom, laughter, connection and positivity from modern-day luminaries such as Eckhart Tolle, Marie Forleo, India Arie, Caroline Myss, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Cheryl Strayed, Shaka Senghor, Kris Carr, Kerry Washington, and of course, Oprah.
(Side note: If you’re not familiar with any of the names on that list, just Google them–you’ll be glad that you did.)
To call the day “inspirational” would be the understatement of the year. Truthfully, recapping this epic day probably deserves its own separate blog post.
But, I actually want to talk about something else that I noticed during that day:
The amount of people who were hopelessly glued to their cell phones for the entire day.
My wife and I sat behind a woman who spent the majority of her day texting, surfing Facebook and playing a game that looked like Candy Crush while the speakers were dropping their brilliance on us.
She wasn’t alone–there were quite a few people seated around us who were doing the same (yes, I know that some people were”live tweeting” the show, but many were just mindlessly swiping through their phones).
To me, this is a problem. If buying an expensive ticket to watch A-List speakers share their wisdom with you isn’t enough to pull your eyes away from your phone, then there is no hope left.
It’s time to get present again.
Who’s In Control–You or Your Technology?
Before you think that I’m a technology hater who still uses a rotary phone at home and surfs the internet on a Netscape browser–that’s definitely not the case. I think that I love technology more than anyone I know.
The difference is that I focus on controlling my technology, instead of allowing it to control me.
In a world where people can’t go more than two minutes without staring blankly at glowing blue boxes in their hands, the biggest game changer these days is the ability to be (and stay) present.
Admittedly, I’m far from perfect when it comes to this. Even so, I intentionally focus each day on getting better at ignoring the hypnotic pull toward my phone–especially, when I’m in the company of others.
If you don’t think that it’s a growing problem, just go to a restaurant and look around. The picture at the top of this blog post isn’t an exaggeration at all. Many tables are loaded with people who are more focused on their cell phones than on the (hopefully) good company they are sitting with.
In the workplace, it’s just as bad. I work with someone who keeps her cell phone right next to her whenever I meet with her, and every time she hears her alert tone (regardless of whether I’m mid-sentence or not) she dives on it like a fumble in the end zone at a football game. It’s sad, disrespectful, and unfortunately, very common these days.
Fighting through the constant allure of instant gratification from our connected devices, combined with the anxiety of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is almost too much for most people to overcome.
But I’m assuming that you’re reading The Positivity Solution because you don’t want to be like most people.
That means that we have to shift our focus.
The Game-Changer: Becoming Aware
Just like most problems, the solution begins with finding the awareness that a problem exists.
Ask yourself, what makes you check your cell phone the most often?
- Is it to see how many people liked/re-tweeted your latest status update?
- Is it to live vicariously through others, because you erroneously believe that their life is better/more exciting/happier than yours?
- Is it because you are addicted to finding the latest deals on Amazon, Groupon, or another sales website?
- Is it because you don’t want to miss the latest tidbit of information from the nonstop 24/7 news sites?
The reason doesn’t really matter. The key is that you want to break the habit of letting your technology control you.
If you can’t stop yourself from checking your cell phone or messing around on Facebook during an hour-long meeting at work, while you’re out on a dinner date, while you should be watching your kids, or worst of all, while you’re driving, then you might have a problem that’s worthy of your attention.
Start by throwing your cell phone in the back seat while you’re driving (or better yet, turning it off), limiting your usage to certain times of the day, and committing to focus on the human in front of you instead of the device buzzing in your pocket.
Is it easy to stay consistently present? No, it’s not–but becoming aware of the problem and taking steps to improve it is exactly how we can reclaim our connection to others.
And isn’t connection with others the main reason why we’re here on this planet?
We can’t marry our cell phones. We don’t celebrate our iPad’s birthdays. We don’t hug our laptops when we’re feeling sad.
It’s people who matter, and although we know this, the challenge is to step past “knowing the truth” and into living this truth–consistently.
That is the positivity of presence.
Do you struggle with staying present? Be honest–do you control your technology or does it control you more than it should? What strategies do you use to stay present? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!