Ethically navigating today’s exponentially evolving technological landscape is one of the greatest challenges we face as human beings in the 21st century. We have to constantly weigh our personal ethics against the increasing possibilities that are available to us almost daily. We must figure out a way to make technology serve our highest good, rather than become dependent on it. Being mindful of our technology habits is key to a fulfilling and healthy life.
The Digital Self
The Digital Self is the term I use for our online presence. For some people, at one end of the scale, it’s a relatively honest extension of our day-to-day lives, composed of snapshots of designs seen in the foam of our cappuccino. At the dishonest end of the spectrum, there are people whose online existence is a complete falsehood, people pursuing online romance under a totally false identity or Photoshopping every picture. For our mental, physical, and emotional health, we want to represent our true selves and be authentic. Follow accounts and read things that lift you up rather than bring you down or cause insecurity.
We can do this with the help of these three tips on how to be more mindful of our technology use:
Anytime you are about to start work at your computer or grab your phone or tablet, pause for a few seconds. Become still and bring the focus of your attention into the present moment. Avoid rushing into the stimulation of technical devices while you’re in “autopilot” mode. Aim to start using your device in a state of mindful awareness. What are you looking for? What is your intention while browsing or posting? Are you representing your true self?
Whenever you’re on hold or waiting for a friend, an appointment, or something to load online, instead of opening another browser or starting another task, simply relax into the moment. Make your waiting time into a mini-meditation session. You can do this by simply observing the flow of the natural breath. Take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. By returning to the interminable peace of the moment throughout the day, you’ll find yourself happier, less stressed, and more productive.
It’s never a bad idea to have a digital detox every now and then. Schedule some deliberate time into your life where you won’t be using any technology at all. This could be an hour a day to a couple of hours a week. Whatever works for you. If you’re a heavy user of digital devices, you may feel anxiety and a sense of disconnection or boredom once you’ve unplugged. This is a symptom of being overstimulated mentally. Don’t try to fight against the feeling, and resist the urge to reach for the nearest device. Do something else with your time, like read a book, cook, go for a walk, draw, journal, or put some music on.
Using technology with mindfulness will help you throughout the day to stop “doing” and come back to your natural state of “being.” With practice, you’ll condition yourself to live more and more in a state of mindful awareness. Rather than letting your digital activities distract you from life, let them become gentle guides that direct you back to living it with purpose and meaning.
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