Technology is getting a bad rep nowadays.
Some say we have too many gadgets and too many distractions.
Our face-to-face interactions are constantly being interrupted by cellphones.
Students would rather spend time in class tweeting than following lectures.
And we can barely go 10-15 minutes at work without refreshing our Facebook.
Let’s face it – it’s nice to have the immediate gratification of connecting with whoever you want, whenever you want.
But now we might be addicted.
Are you aware of how often you check your phone for text messages?
Are you aware of how often you refresh Facebook?
Are you aware of how often you check your emails?
Are you aware of how often you tweet?
Are you aware of how disconnected you sometimes feel when your cellphone runs out of batteries?
Or you can’t get access to the internet for an entire week?
We can very easily get addicted to things that give us immediate gratification. It’s just like a drug. We don’t recognize how much we “need it,” until we no longer have it and experience the withdrawals. We crave connections, even digital ones.
So is social media a bad thing?
I’m not going to be one of those guys who thinks we need to get rid of electricity in order to find real happiness. I spend over 8 hours a day on the internet, it’s where all my work takes place, and I think many of the tools we sometimes abuse are actually incredibly useful and important to our social evolution.
We just need to use this technology more mindfully.
It’s a hot word in modern psychology and self improvement. It’s basically synonymous with “living in the moment” or being in flow.
Many would argue that these new technologies actually distract us from living in the moment, but I would argue that we can still be mindful while on Twitter, or Facebook, or on our iPhones (note: I don’t actually own one, although I wish I did).
So what does it mean to be mindful while Tweeting?
Can you be fully in your awareness as you click over to the Twitter tab, see an interesting tweet, and then decide to respond to it?
What about when your cursor moves over to the “refresh” button on Facebook?
Can you be more mindful of that urge to check your Twitter when you really should be studying for an exam or working on that new project?
Could you learn to have more self-discipline? More awareness of your actions as they unfold in the moment?
These are some questions you may want to consider, especially when you find yourself being constantly distracted by today’s technology.
Mindfulness and will power.
How can you be more mindful in the present moment? Well, you have to will it into action. You have to make the conscious effort and say to yourself:
“I will be more mindful.”
“I will pay more attention to what I am thinking, what I am doing, or what I am saying in the present moment.”
Remember, mindfulness is not something that only happens when we are sitting on the cushion meditating. It is a skill that should permeate everything we do. In the book Mindfulness in Plain English, the author stresses that we can be mindful of anything: breathing, walking, cooking, playing sports – it doesn’t matter.
It’s a state of awareness, not a physical action.
And the same awareness can be cultivated when we are tweeting or on social media.
But it takes practice, and it takes the willingness to practice. Mindfulness is a muscle that needs to be worked out. It’s not some magic tool that can be bought at a store or acquired through reading a book.
Be one with your tweet.
Be one with your tweet. It sounds kind of silly and zen-like right? But really all I mean is to concentrate your full attention on what is relevant in the present.
So often are minds are “divided” into different parts. We worry about one thing while doing another. We rarely have that one-pointedness where we are fully engaged in the action we are doing.
Want to see full engagement? Watch professional athletes while they play sports. Watch artists while they create. Watch a businessman while he is discussing a new idea. Those people are one with what they are doing while they are doing it. In that moment, there is nothing more important to them.
Can you imagine how such a state of mind could be beneficial? Even while tweeting?
When I tweet @NeuralCorrelate, I want to know exactly what I’m doing. I have 140 characters to send a message, what is it that I am trying to say?
How am I writing? Am I showing my personality? Am I acting like a machine or do I recognize that there are real people on the other end of those Twitter accounts?
The point of social media is to be social, right? Whether you are in business, or showing off your blog, or sharing your music, or just asking people how they are doing – the main goal here is to interact.
Are you acting like a person on social media? Or do you send automated tweets, generic quotes, or links to sales pages?
That might be something to be more mindful of. Ask yourself, “Am I using social media in the best way I could be? Am I fully engaged with the people I hope to connect with?”
“I like Twitter, but it makes me ADHD.”
If you’re more mindful when you tweet, you can better notice when you are being distracted, or when you actually have the free time to engage on Twitter.
There’s a middle ground between the two. On one hand, devoting attention to Twitter can be a very rewarding experience. On the other hand, always wanting to check your tweets can be a huge burden.
Mindfulness helps you distinguish between the two. It’s the difference between “I have some time to invest on Twitter” and “I really shouldn’t be doing this right now.”
Okay, so how do I cultivate this mindfulness?
Again, it takes some will-power and practice, but there are some tips you can try today to start improving:
- Spend 10-15 minutes meditating and watching your awareness.
- Decide on one task per day that you will be more mindful of.
- Identify some activities that you love and already experience flow doing.
- Recite an affirmation that “I will be more mindful.”
- Ask yourself the purpose or goal behind a certain action.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself when you get distracted.
- Write in a journal or blog about your mindfulness experiences.
- Keep practicing.
I hope you found some of this advice useful. Being more mindful of our actions can be an incredible agent for change and personal well-being (no matter what it is we are doing).
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Image by respres on Flickr.com