I saw that quote the other day and it really made me stop and think. I thought about how often people check their phones these days when doing mundane things like waiting in line at the store, waiting for their food at a restaurant, during tv commercials, and I’ve even seen people check their phones while brushing their teeth.
Even more interesting to me were my next thoughts, which were about WHY people felt the need to reach for their phones when they had only a few minutes of having to wait or do something boring. Why was it so necessary for them to have the constant stimulation? Why couldn’t they be alone with their thoughts or focused on what was going on around them, especially if it was another person in the restaurant scenario.
This whole “not constantly checking my phone this” s an easy thing for me to do because I am not glued to my phone at all times. I’m old enough to remember life before smartphones, and while I do use it for calls, texts, taking photos, and playing the occasional Words With Friends game, I am not constantly checking my social media feeds for updates or if someone has responded to my email.
On the one hand, this quote is saying that we should have so many fun, exciting, and stimulating things going on in our lives that we completely forget about checking our phones because we’re enjoying those moments and living our lives so fully. I agree with this feeling 100% - we should all be living wondrous and tremendous lives, working toward our dreams coming true and always being present no matter what we’re doing.
However, because none of our lives involve scaling a mountain or going up in a hot air balloon or whatever you may define as an “exciting and fulfilling experience which completely engages all of my senses so that I forget to check my phone” every single day, what DO we do with those boring, monotonous times waiting in the checkout line and HOW CAN we make them so interesting and fun that we do not feel the need to bring our phone out for the thirty-fifth time that day, even when we know nothing will have changed since the last time we checked it?
One way to answer that question to hearken back to what we did during those times BEFORE we had access to the entire world in our pocket. (And let me just add as an aside here, I am in no way anti-phone or anti-social media. I’m not just an old fuddy duddy who sees no value in new fangled technology. I am someone however, who believes in the power of connecting with other people in reality, not just virtually, and who has seen the overwhelming power of phone and social media addiction. to disastrous and painful results.)
Without a phone to turn to when we were bored during a lecture at school, we would write notes to our friends, work on homework, or think about our latest crush. When we used to be stuck in a grocery store line we would look around at the environment we were standing in, maybe take in the covers of the magazines next to us, or consult our list to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything. When I used to ride the bus and the subway every day to and from work I would read books, and I remember sometimes anticipating my commute with such joy and optimism because I’d get to see what happened next in whatever I was reading.
More than any of these things though, I realized that when we were stuck in these mundane and monotonous situations we filled our heads with daydreaming. Remember daydreaming? When we’d allow our minds to go anywhere we wanted, thinking up fanciful stories and connecting with our subconscious about what we really wanted. So often those pipe dreams turned into real action when we thought about them multiple times and turned them over and over in our heads enough times that we could figure out steps to take to make them actually happen. There’s such intense value in visualizing our success, just ask any Olympic athlete or professional sports player. Daydreaming can be synonymous with hope and it can be a very powerful and empowering thing.
“A single footstep will not make a path on the earth so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” -Henry David Thoreau
It seems like we no longer have the time for long deep thoughts or the luxury to return to them over and over again for the purposes of fulfilling our dreams on the earth. We’re pulled away from them every few seconds because we’ve gotten a “ting” that makes us check our phone. That noise, or even just the inner voice that tells us to check repeatedly so we’re not missing something yanks us out of our own reality and puts us squarely into someone else’s. Have you ever noticed after scrolling through Facebook or Instagram it’s that much more difficult to return to what you were doing and to get your head back into the productive space where it had been before that?
Think about the times when you were so immersed in what you were doing that you completely forgot about your phone. On your path of choosing happiness I would encourage you to do more of THOSE things, because they are the things that fill you up and not make you not worry that you are missing out on something outside of yourself.
I promise you, no one ever said on their deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time on Facebook.”
I promise you, no one ever said on their deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time on Instagram.”
I promise you, no one ever said on their deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time checking my phone.”
There are so many more things to fill your time with that I can guarantee will bring you so much more joy than compulsively checking your phone. I wish you a life where you have so much going on that sometimes you forget it’s even there.