Month: November 2015

Want to unplug?

Does your phone never stop pinging? Is your inbox filled with notifications from all your different social media accounts? Can you hear the impatience in the voice of your partner/friends/family because they know you aren’t paying attention? These days so many of us are too attached to our phones and screens. We are like zombies stumbling through life, bumping into each other, glued to a glowing rectangle disconnecting us from our physical reality.

The amount of information available to us these days is overwhelming and quite addictive. The world is literally at our fingertips, yet I spend a lot of time online looking at cats. However, with all of that information most of us just refresh our Facebook newsfeed or check e-mails. The power of this online world is apparent as it takes us away from the present moment.

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If you find your time is filled with screens and you want to plug back into the world around you, here are some tips:

  • Don’t let the internet start your day. Instead of waking up and checking your twitter, wake up and see how you feel. Stretch, take deep breaths and think about all you have to be grateful for.
  • Don’t go online until you get to work, or until an hour into your day. Allow that time for you, check in with your thoughts and feelings. Instead of reading about all that is happening in the world of others, notice what’s happening in the world of you.
  • Focus on the real relationships. Don’t just chat to people through a screen, meet for coffee, be present to them and put the phones aside.
  • Make blocks of time where there will be no internet usage and do something positive. Why not start reading a new book, go for a walk, meditate or take up a new hobby?

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How many hours a day are you in front of a phone/laptop/tablet/computer/television? The average is about 6 hours a day, however if you need a screen for work it would be at least 8. If you are awake for about 15 hours a day then about 40% of your day is in front of a glowing box. This can have negative effects on sleep patterns, attention span, emotional reactions and can even lead to brain damage. These are all very detrimental side effects, especially since there is a very simple solution. Turn it off.

Being connected to each other is what this journey of life is all about. Although the internet can bring us together and it can also pull us apart. There’s nothing wrong with awkward eye contact on a busy bus or occasionally being bored. We don’t need to fill our time with screens, we need to treasure the moments without them.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott

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The Holiday Season

Although we have yet to begin the month of December wreaths have been hung, lights have been lit and Christmas music is being played. I however, am having a hard time getting into the ‘Christmas spirit’. I feel like it is being sold to me so forcibly that I am dubious to endorse it.

Every year the decorations are on display earlier and earlier. The retail industry is in a constant state of selling a future that seldom arrives as advertised. Most people feel the pressure of getting the house cleaned, gifts bought and food prepared. Everyone is rushing and racing, talking about how stressed they are and how much they need to do. No one really seems to enjoy the lead up to this one day. (I speak of Christmas, however I know there are many other December celebrations. This one just seems to have the best press.)

In it’s earliest form Christmas wasn’t about Christ at all. It was about the sun, not the Son. December 21st is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year for those in the Northern Hemisphere. Thousands of years ago it was a celebration called ‘Yule’. This centred around the idea of light and rebirth, the darkest part of the year was behind them.

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Now we have people spending thousands and feeling overwhelmed about what presents to buy for people they don’t really know. When at the core of this holiday – that so many celebrate without asking why – is about the joy of life. We have survived this far, made it through a difficult part of the year and kept going. We know the sun will shine on our faces once more.

If everyone were to stop and ask themselves what is their favourite part about Christmas, I doubt it would have anything to do with commodities. I did a quick search and the what most people enjoy: Sitting in front of the fire in their pyjamas, curling up to read a book or watch a movie, seeing excited kids and the atmosphere. We all also love having a few days off, knowing that you have been giving permission to slow down. Yet every year we are sold the idea that those moments must be bought, that the perfect present is what makes the perfect Christmas.

This year I offer an idea. When you have those quiet moments of joy on your own or with others, you register it deeply within you. Breathing into that feeling and recognising that all of us just want to know that the sun will shine on us again. That at our core, the moments that matter most have nothing to do with products purchased.

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” – Roy L. Smith

Having a Rough Day?

It’s grey and rainy out there. It makes me want to stay in bed, read, drink tea and bundle up. I would prefer to feel all warm and fuzzy and counteract the chill in the air outside.

Here’s some nice stuff to make you smile and to warm you from the inside out.

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If you are having a hard time, it’s okay, keep going. You’re on the right track.

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“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh