While hiking in the middle of the woods, I said to my husband, “I think I’m going to go back to a talk-and-text phone. The smart phone is adding a level of distraction in my life that I need to remove in order to simplify and be more mindful.”
Not 24 hours later, he stepped on my phone. On accident. I think.
As I checked my email on this phone — I put it in a ziplock baggie to prevent glass cuts — I realized that I NEEDED to unplug. I’m now the owner of one of the only 3 talk-and-text phones that my carrier had available in the store. And, according to the lovely person helping me, I am the only person she has ever had downgrade rather than upgrade.
I think our societal pendulum has swung so far to the get-out-and-do-stuff side of things that it’s starting to swing back and a simpler lifestyle is making more and more sense to a lot of people. Just not people who shop at the same cell phone store I shop at.
Oh, I’ve simplified. I’ve gotten rid of excess stuff. I’ve cut way back on our activities. I’ve started a daily rhythm to keep our days running smoothly. I’ve made lists. Simplifying is something I’ve done. What I haven’t done, however, is become mindful.
Mindfulness is about being present in the present and choosing your words and actions after taking time to think them through. There is also some big picture stuff like being mindful as consumers, producers, and citizens. I’m actually so much better at the big picture stuff than I am simply within the 4 walls of my house. I recommend perusing Kellie’s posts at Mindful Life blog for more inspiration and ideas.
There are some obstacles to being mindful. Some people will fall into the “overthinking” category. They will be so mindful that they are stymied by indecision or take so long to respond that the rest of the world has moved on while they were thinking. I assure you that I will never fall into the trap of overthinking or of indecision. My two obstacles are on the other side of the spectrum and are best described in DSM IV under “ADHD” — Distractability and Impulsivity. One of those might even be a real word.
I always look at my faults as positives. It helps for a healthy self image. Yes, I’m easily distracted. But that also means that when you come over, I will drop whatever I’m doing to have a conversation with you. Yes, my house is falling apart around me but what was that you said about a sale at Hobby Lobby? Yes, I’m impulsive. Oh, your plans fell through at the last minute? Come over and help me paint the bathroom that I decided to paint a second before you called. We’ll just use whatever leftover paint I have in the garage.
These things aren’t all bad. But they are kind of bad.
Step one in being mindful is often to simplify. Figuring I’ve done that, I need to eliminate distractions next. My top distraction is, far and away, media. In fact, while setting up my new and less distracting phone, two of my kids began to argue. One of them (Eli) was getting angry so I stepped in to see if I could help calm things down. It worked so I went back to setting up my phone. I mean, I really needed my Play That Funky Music ringtone installed right then. Tempers flared again so I put the phone down and went and sat in the room. I didn’t say anything. I just sat there. Things calmed down again and another child asked about my phone. I said, “I’m not done setting it up because Eli needs me here and he’s important to me.” Eli, who was still a bit angry at the time, leaned over and hugged me.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who needs me to be present and mindful.
So, here it goes. The computer? Upstairs and a pain to get to so I can’t pop on for “a minute” to see what’s going on. Phone? Can call and text only. Online forums/social media? Deleted log in information so I can’t mindlessly log in. I have to make the actual choice to sit down and log on. TV? No channels so I have to, again, decide to watch something specific because turning it on and flipping through the channels doesn’t work.
Distraction elimination is only just beginning. I’ll have to report back on how it works. The impulsive side? I think that’s just going to be a matter of giving myself a minimum deadline before I can act. I cannot paint the bathroom magenta until Friday. If I still want to do it then, I will do it. It’ll take practice, but I promise I’ll use one of my blog days to update in a month or so.
Any tips or warm fuzzies about mindful living to get me through the media detox? Reminders that taking a day before responding to an email or a phone call won’t cause the world to pass me by? Leave it all in the comments. I will read them all… when I have a chance to come upstairs and sit at the computer because my new phone? There is no WordPress app.
Here we go.