I’ve just got my phone back after 4 weeks of having nothing. If you’d asked me prior to this experience if I was addicted to my phone, I would have said ‘No way!’, yet I quickly discovered I was more attached to it than I would’ve liked to admit.
Not having my phone was like living with a phantom limb – I would reach for it in the mornings, when I was waiting for someone, when I was filling in time, even when I saw a beautiful sunset I would be thinking shoot where’s my phone so I can capture this thing!
I was clearly so used to reaching for my phone during the day, that it had become an unconscious habit. A habit that was distracting me from experiencing what was happening right in front of me.
During this forced detox I started to see everyone around me caught up on the same addiction. You find yourself aimlessly turning to your phone throughout the day to add to, change, or share a moment you’re in, rather than experiencing it for yourself. The crazy thing is, you don’t know why you’re reaching for your phone, you just do it, and it’s this unconscious habit that’s having a lasting impact on your happiness.
So why is my phone robbing me of my happiness?
Happiness is an internal strength you develop through positive EXPERIENCES, and unless you’re paying mindful and sustained attention to them, positive experiences flow straight through your brain like water through a sieve. This is due to our natural negativity bias. Therefore, when you’re distracted and constantly pulling yourself out of the present moment (by turning to your phone for example) you’re reducing the possibility of noticing and taking in the good that’s around you.
Your brain becomes accustomed to scrolling past the good elements in your life, and even if you do notice them you don’t stick with them and give them the credit they deserve. Ultimately these minor habits of distraction are strengthening your susceptibility to negativity and making it more and more difficult for you to feel happy.
This is exactly what I experienced myself during these 4 weeks without a phone. As soon as I started to sit with a moment and fully engage with it, rather than instinctively reaching for a distraction, I noticed more of the good stuff happening around me. I started to feel more at ease, life felt full, and I no longer felt that sensation of always being busy or having to move straight onto the next thing. I could simple be.
Now I know saying ‘reduce the times throughout the day when you reach for your phone’, or ‘savour a moment for yourself before you choose to use it’, sounds so small and insignificant; but it’s these tiny, unconscious actions that are adding up and contributing to those not so good feelings you encounter.
So, my challenge for you this week is this: When you find yourself reaching for your phone stop and ask ‘What’s driving me to do this right now – do I have a genuine need or is it a distraction?’ and ‘How can I stick with the present moment just a little bit longer?’