Wireless Wonderland: Managing Phone Use to Stay Present


Wireless Wonderland
Alice, referring to her experiences in Wonderland, in  Disney's Alice in Wonderland.
Also: me, every time I fall down the internet rabbit hole.  

 

Do ever feel as if you're in a different world when you're on your phone? Do you ever feel as if you've somehow fallen into it, like you've gotten sucked into the alternate reality of what's happening on the screen? 


Recently while watching Disney's Alice in Wonderland, it occurred to me how fascinating — and accurate — it is when people use the term "internet rabbit hole." How often have you gone on your phone to search for something and looked up from the screen a while later, surprised at how much time had passed since you'd unlocked the screen? How often have you said to yourself, "I'll just look at [Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / etc.] for a sec," and then found yourself in a lengthy cycle of app-checking? If you've ever experienced these, you're certainly not alone. Most people with a smartphone have probably had these experiences. 

 

Wondering where you stand in terms of phone addiction/use? Here's a Smartphone Compulsion Test to check out. (I scored 14/15.)

 

One study found that 89% of Americans check their smartphones “at least a few times a day," and 36% admit they’re “constantly checking and using” their phones. For those ages 18-24, that number is closer 50%. Even if you're not in the "constantly checking" group, all you have to do is look around to see that a lot of people are. This is not news, of course; many Americans (and others) are attached to their phones, some of us quite literally addicted. And it's no wonder! These devices provide us with some of the best aspects of life: connection to others, information and up-t0-the-minute news, entertainment and games, external validation, and so much more. It makes sense that we're drawn to such incredible devices. But when they become the focus of our lives, when we spend so much time in them that it's almost as if we're living parallel lives in real life and online, we have to step back and consider what this means for who we are (and who we want to be). 

 

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A Pup's Guide to Being Present

  Positively-Present-Pup
 

 

This weekend I had the privilege of having not one, but two dogs in my home, as I was dog-sitting for a friend. I spend a lot of time with my pup, Barkley, but something about having two dogs, and perhaps being more attentive than I am on a day-to-day basis, made me reflect on how skilled dogs are at staying present. While they don't do it all the time (I can definitely tell when Bark is stressed or anxious about something that just happened or is about to happen), they do seem to be much better at staying in the moment. Of course, they have the added benefit of not having quite as much on their minds as humans do, but that doesn't mean we still can learn from them. 

Here are some of the mindfulness tips I was reminded of over the weekend. Learn from the the wisdom of pups! (If you're looking for additional inspiration on pets and mindfulness, I highly recommend the book Guardians of Being by Eckhart Tolle and Patrick McDonnell. It's adorable and insightful.) 

 

Do less every day.

Pups don't overwhelm their schedules with lengthy to-do lists, appointments, and activities. Pups (and most pets!) know how to take it easy. They spend most of the day relaxing and another good chunk of it playing, going for walks, eating, etc.. We'd all probably love to live a life on a pup's schedule, but since that's impossible for most of us, we can at least strive to do less each day. We can make fewer appointments. We can schedule fewer activities. Yes, some things must be done, but take a look at your to-do list and see if there are tasks that maybe aren't so essential.

 

Worry less often.

Even if you have an anxious pup (like Bark!), pup still don't worry as much as humans do. Worrying, as you might know, doesn't really do anything. It's completely unproductive, but yet many of us spend a lot of time doing it. What we should do instead is determine if there's something we can do about a worrisome situation. If we can, we should take action. If we can't, we should do our best to let the worry go. 

 

Experience more joy.

There's no joy quite like that of a dog with a beloved toy. Barkley, for example, loves this one blue ball she has. You can just see the joy on her face when she runs for the ball, or even when I say the word "ball." As humans, I think we all have things like this, situations or things or people that make us feel completely joyful. Unfortunately, we don't always allow ourselves to experience it fully and without inhibition. Take a lesson from a pup, and allow yourself to feel complete and total joy without fear of judgment. 

 

Refrain from judgment.

And speaking of judgment, the lack of it is one of the most precious assets of any pup. Pups might have preferences for certain things, as we all do, but they don't judge people or themselves. Have you ever seen a pup look in the mirror and complain about her appearance? Yes, I'm aware that they don't have the mental capacity to do that, but still, it's something we should be inspired by, even if it's much more difficult for us, as humans, to attain.

 

Avoid complaining.

Life's got its highs and lows, for both pups and people, but consider how dogs handle most situations: they cope. If they're hot or cold or tired or hungry, they deal with it. Yes, sometimes there's a bit of whining involved, but generally they make the best of where they are until things get better. We could all learn from this. Yes, sometimes it feels good to vent, but more often than not, complaining only makes a difficult situation worse. 

 

Ditch the drama.

Whether its intentional or not, most people create some bit of drama for themselves. Sometimes it's purposeful (stirring the pot, as my mom would say) and other times its unintentional (not being as straightforward as you could be, for example), but regardless of how it happens, its something we have the power to become aware of and transform. Dogs don't create drama for no reason. They face situations head-on without rationalization or blame -- and we'd be a lot better off if we did the same!

 

Create deep connections.

Pets and their owners have a unique and magical kind of unconditional love. Because humans are more complex, it's not always easy to have such a simple, nearly flawless connection with them, but it doesn't hurt to consider how you'd treat your pup if s/he made a mistake vs. how you'd treat a person. The love between pups and people is strong and, typically, unwavering, and it would help us all if we made that kind of connection our goal with other humans. 

 

Notice the little things. 

One of the best things about having a pet is how much they notice. Barkley is particularly adept at noticing any changes in her environment and investigating them for more info. We, as humans, are often rushing around and fail to notice the little things. If you have a pup, take him/her on a walk and take note of everything the pup notices. Whenever I do this, it really helps to make even the most mundane things more magical. 

 

 

For most people (including me!), mindfulness is a challenge. But if we were able to adopt some of these lessons from the pets in our lives (or at least try to adopt them), we'd all be a lot more mindful. Staying present takes practice, and I'm thankful to have a present-minded pup in my life to inspire me. If you have a pet, pay attention to how amazingly present they are most of the time. If you don't have one, hopefully these tips from Bark will give you some mindfulness tips you can put into practice in your own life! 

 

 

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Lettering Life Lessons : Being Open-Minded


Positively Present Open Mind

 

As often as I can, I spend time drawing and lettering on my iPad, thinking all the while about what the words mean and how I might effectively share them with you. This week I decided to share a little bit of that process and, if you like it, I'll keep it up as a new segment called Lettering + Lessons! 

The Lettering Life Lessons concept is simple: I'll pick a quote, then I'll chat about it in more detail while drawing and hand-lettering it. This is the first time I've tried this so I have to admit: it isn't perfect. For one, I forgot to record the audio for a big huge chunk of it (scroll to the last couple minutes of the video if you want to see the audio-free drawing process). For another, I'm still getting the hang of working and talking so, at times, it's a little all over the place. And it's definitely too long, but I kind of like the stream-of-consciousness vibe so I decided to forgo the editing and just see what you guys think! 

Here's the video, where you'll see the process behind the drawing above, accompanied by a (slightly rambling) analysis of the quote and a discussion about what being open-minded means to me (and how we can all benefit from it!).  

 


Can't see the video? Click here to watch on YouTube

 

I'd love to hear what you think about this Lettering Life Lessons concept! If you like it, give the video a thumbs up on YouTube or let me know in the comments section below. And if you have any suggestions for what you'd like to see in the future — more specifics on the lettering? more insights on the quote and less detail about the lettering process? quotes or phrases you'd like me to letter? — I'd love the feedback! :)

  

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