It may be ironic that I’m asking you take your eyes off the screen while you are reading this on a screen, but please stay with me, at least until the end of the article.
While I was internet-lite over the holidays, I noticed several times that I wanted to check my phone. It wasn’t because I was waiting for anything, it just felt comfortable. It had become a habit for me to check my phone after a yoga class, before I went out, waiting in line and other times throughout the day. I gave in a few times, but each time I resisted, that desire to check in faded.
How many times do you check your phone/iPad/computer/Kindle/ because you are:
When does all that checking become a habit?
If sugar is the new smoking, digital devices are the new habit-forming comfort food.
Our devices provide connection, entertainment, education, inspiration and sometimes vital communication. More often than not though, nothing is as time sensitive as we make it out to be.
The very best part of our devices may be that they provide a sense of comfort, but the very worst part is that they distract us from what’s right in front in of us. This video from Life Edited is a great demonstration of our hyper-connected society. “It’s a world of distractedness, extraneous documentation and general lack of presence. For many of us, it is our world.”
7 Times to Keep Your Eyes Up & Heart Open
- 1. In the car. Keep your phone off or silent when you are in the car. When you take your eyes off the road, even at a stop light, you risk more than you can imagine. If you’re a passenger, keep your eyes up too. Have a conversation or do a little sight-seeing. Enjoy the ride.
- 2. When you are saying hello or goodbye. If the first thing you do when you walk in the door after work is get on your phone, you aren’t really home. Exchanging a greeting with eyes (even one) on a screen is nothing shy of bad manners. Your hellos and goodbyes lose all sincerity. This is easiest to forget with the people we say hello and goodbye to everyday, so the next time you go home, be home.
- 3. When you are eating. No devices at the dining table is a great rule to enforce. Give your body a chance to enjoy the food on the table, and your heart a chance to connect with your dining companions.
- 4. When you are waiting. You can’t stand in line anywhere or walk into a waiting room without seeing glowing screens everywhere. What did we used to do while we waited before? Trade your device for being alone with your thoughts. I dare you.
- 5. Before you fall asleep. If the last thing you see before you fall asleep is an email from your boss, guess who you are going to be dreaming about? Enough said.
- 6. When you wake up. Give yourself time to welcome the day. Breathe, stretch, create a meaningful morning routine, and turn your attention to the needs of the world afterwards. You deserve an opportunity to give your best and that starts with giving it to yourself first.
- 7. When you are tired/angry/moody/grumpy. Getting online in a volatile mood opens the door for words you may regret later. Contentious Facebook updates, needless comments and knee jerk reactions all happen when you aren’t thinking clearly. You don’t get to take those words back. Get back to basics and if you have nothing nice to say, take a bath or go for a walk instead.
Easier said than done, you might be thinking and you are right. This eyes off the screen stuff can be challenging, habit-breaking stuff, but luckily, there are no harsh physical side effects. If you want more meaning and connection in your life, it will be worth the effort.
A few things that will help you on your journey to lift your eyes & open your heart …
Remember what matters
Anytime you are around other people, put them before your phone or device. Ask permission to use your device when you are with friends and family. Often, just the thought of asking will be a great reminder and you will choose to pause instead.
Vow to breathe
This starfish story from Rachel at Hands Free Mama will inspire you to slow down and breathe.
I created the eyes up, heart open graphic above and saved it as wallpaper on my phone. It’s the first thing I see when I check my phone. It’s a great reminder about what I might be compromising when I make a needless check in to the world-wide web of endless information. Feel free to use it on your favorite device or tape a written reminder until you break the habit.
Schedule screen time
Remember when you were a kid and you were only allowed to play video games or watch tv for a set time each day? Now you are all grown up and you can do what you want, but limits help. Plan a certain amount of time each day to check email, surf the web and yes … read your favorite blogs. When your time is up; eyes up, heart open.
The information on your device can be really helpful. It may contribute to your work, help you book a flight, find directions or a new recipe. The trouble is with the moments in between. You don’t have to search for everything online. Chance are that what you are looking for is right in front of you.
If this isn’t an issue for you, congrats! If you are like me, and there is room for improvement, a few tiny changes will help you get back to what matters most.
Eyes up. Heart open.