I was a little late to the cell-phone craze. I admit, technology didn’t really strike me until about 2006. Despite social networks connecting people across the world every second of every day, it seems that truly connecting with people is going down the tubes. Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to unplug yourself from this technological link.
Now, like many if not most Americans, I often panic when driving without my phone. It didn’t take long for me to go from freedom to completely dependent on my little device. Along with about half of the U.S. population, I use a smart phone; it’s my calendar, my mailbox, my phone, and my business partner all in one. But no matter how much anyone can’t live without their phone, it must be turned off from time to time in order to truly appreciate the world, engage spiritually, and reconnect with nature and those close to us.
No, really socialize—like face-to-face with people you know in “real life”. Get a cup of coffee; go out for lunch. And while you’re both spending time together, try shutting the phone down. Trust me, the world won’t end and your friend will probably appreciate it.
2. Go for a Hike
People used to go on walks with compasses; these walks were called hikes. While you don’t need to delve into a wilderness journey with nothing but the clothes on your back, it’s always nice to go for a walk in the woods. The Japanese call this forest bathing, and it has been shown to not only boost health, but make people happier and even smarter. Leave your phone in your car, or if that’s too scary—shut it off and put it in your backpack. Resist the temptation to Tweet every step of your hike and simply enjoy Mother Nature.
3. Cook and Eat a Meal
Food preparation, when done correctly, can take a significant amount of time and attention. Do it this time without your phone, Ipad or your laptop on the countertop. Don’t take a photo of your plate and don’t update Facebook with “So full. Cooked the best meal EVER”! Just enjoy it.
Read a book with actual paper pages! Kindles and other readers are great, for storing a lot of material, but nothing can take the place of a literal page-turner. Put the devices away and crack open a book or magazine. Don’t get distracted by text messages or phone calls. Really get into the book like you probably did long ago, in what may seem like a previous life when your phone wasn’t in your hand every minute of the day.
5. Turn off the Television
Most importantly of all, turn off the TV. The TV is one of the most impact mediums used today to shape both the conscious and subconscious. Celebrities, television shows, the new, and advertisements are responsible for everything from how people think to how they act. A very open statement, I know, but it’s incredibly important to unplug yourself from the tube as much as you can. The news portrays what it wants you to see as much as television programs tell people how to think.
Disconnecting from technology is important. When we are constantly “on call”, it can significantly boost stress levels and contribute to the feeling that there isn’t enough time in the day. Notice there was one thing in common with these few suggestions and that was the powering down of your gadgets. Freedom isn’t being able to be reached no matter where you are or what you are doing; freedom is in finding those places and moments when you can appreciate silence, solitude, or just being in the moment without being tied down to a machine. This is one aspect of freedom, anyway.