Every few weeks or so, this convenient misfortune seems to befall upon you, forcing you either to make an inconvenient and stressful dash for the nearest outlet or to confront the real world. For those of you who learned the hard way and now travel from home to work with a cell phone charger unfailingly within arm’s reach, you may not have gotten to experience the joy of real world confrontation in a while. For others, this may be a more regular occurrence that seems to repeat itself either because you secretly like it or because you just forget.
Regardless of which category you feel better describes you, I propose a challenge: turn off or leave at home your precious mobile device for one whole day.
Let me show you how.
Hold down the big red button.
As soon as you use your phone’s alarm to wake up, check any vital missed calls or Twitter shouts before turning it off– completely. Be ruthless and don’t cheat, but please make prior arrangements if a ride to an event is in question or if your kid’s safety is in jeopardy. Cover all your bases before entering this unmarked path.
Invest in Post-Its.
Whether the human memory is weakening due to cell phone radiation or cell phone reliance, you are likely less able than prior generations to remember such details as others’ numbers, your daily schedule, and the name of the restaurant at which you are expected to meet for lunch. You’re not inferior, but society has conditioned your brain to think differently. Keep a pad of paper or sticky notes with you throughout the day and note not just how many times you have to use it, but how many of those times you no longer even need the reminder. The very act of writing on paper uses more parts of your brain than does typing on an illuminated screen, allowing you to lock in the information more securely.
Allow yourself to get bored.
With nothing to do, the tendency is to seek a form of entertainment. Whether you share a piece of gossip with a co-worker, Instagram your cappuccino, or scan the LA Weekly application, your phone seems to be your go-to source for instant boredom relief. Explore, then, what you do in its absence. Maybe you doodle, maybe you read the newspaper, maybe you finish your work responsibilities early. See not only how much time you save upon cutting out unproductive phone usage, but also what natural creative tendencies you have. Remember when all your dolls had intricate social lives, books were real life adventures, and crayons yielded an entire afternoon of entertainment? Find that spark of inspiration.
Allow yourself to get lonely.
With your eyes now pointed ahead, you may notice you’re surrounded by creatures with two legs, two arms, open hearts, and hours of potential conversation. Instead of isolating yourself or trying to look important by shooting an email or text message in uncomfortable moments of public solitude, observe and open yourself up to those around you. Be brave enough to start a conversation, as most don’t bite and are actually quite friendly. You may be surprised to learn others’ stories. Otherwise, simply observe. Without being too creepy, notice the range of personalities and maybe seek solidarity where you once saw only difference.
Find the light.
Notice the sun on your forehead. Feel how it warms your skin and caresses your cells to life. Notice the gentle breeze. Notice the lull of cars passing by. Notice your breath. See how the outside world affects your body and mental state, while bringing attention to the power and fullness of your own breath, that which directly connects your body to your mind. Perhaps take a minute to express gratitude for your health and well-being.
Find the balance.
After you’ve taken the time to observe your life without a handheld distraction, learn to make it a part of your healthy lifestyle. Don’t hide behind it in moments of discomfort and don’t ever use work emails as an excuse to neglect your girlfriend. Use it responsibly as a tool so you can be present in all moments of your day. Above all, however, remember that the greatest connection you can make is that to another human being.