Sliding Otter News
June 2, 2012
Enjoying Each Other to the Fullest
People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.
~Joseph F. Newton~
I tried to find a list of our country’s ten favorite foods. None of the lists matched but they did agree on peanut butter, hot dogs, ice cream, pizza and hamburgers. If you threw them all into a blender and pureed them, how tasty do you think the end result would be? All the flavors would get lost in the process.
Now what if you took all your favorite experiences in life and tried to have them all at once? Same result: system overload. You would not be able to relish any of the experiences. Yet many of us try to do as much as we can as fast as we can and try to do it all at once.
One example is our over-reliance on technology and overindulgence in its inventions. Lately I notice people constantly pawing their communication devices, afraid they will miss something. Despite reminders to be considerate of others, I find it difficult to get through a reading, lecture, movie or live performance without the jangle of at least a few cell phone ringtones.
At restaurants and parties, people often feel the need to have their devices in view or at least in hearing distance at all times. No matter how much a conversation might entrance them, their cell phones frequently seem to take precedence and the conversation is put on hold to see who is ringing in.
Back to the blender example. Trying to experience everything at once dilutes and pollutes each element. Once we did not have so many distractions. If we were lucky enough to be in the company of someone we cherished, we devoted all our time and energy to being with that person. Now we seem bombarded from all directions. Television blasts us with high voltage ads for things we probably don’t need or even want. Computers beckon us with ties to the far flung reaches of the world in a fraction of a second. Tweets, text messages, email and voice calls remain ready to usurp all of our time and energy if we let them.
What can we do before we are sucked into hyperspace? We can start by realizing that our devices are tools. They don’t own us. We own them. We don’t need to answer their signals. We don’t even have to turn them on. Instead, we can choose to tune into the reality around us rather than the electronic signal demanding attention.
We have the power to choose where we place our attention. We can choose to stay in the moment in which we find ourselves or to flee at the least distraction. We have become so accustomed to answering every ring that we might not realize our insult to the person in front of us whom we put on hold. Instead we can respect that person and let our device save the message until later.
Life Lab Lessons
- Decide whether you or your phone is in charge.
- If your phone is in charge, give it a vacation.
- Respect the ones you’re with.
- Work on resisting distractions.
- Take control of your experience.