Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Tune Up by Tuning Out

By Tamara Martfeld

In today’s world it is common to see a group of people who go out to a meal “together” sitting at a table with their noses in their phone instead of connecting to those around them, people walking down the street texting, and people who cannot sit for five minutes without doing something. This inability to disconnect from electronics or to be inactive is dangerous.

The inability to disconnect reduces the ability to focus and enjoy what is happening in one’s life. For example, you can be at the Grand Canyon and texting the whole time you are there. Because you are texting you are missing the beautiful scenery, the wildlife in the area, and the overall ambiance of the location. You might as well as saved your money and stayed home!

If you never have a real conversation you never learn to read people to receive the whole message being communicated. This can be critical in some conversations. A large percentage of communication is body language. A conversation over the phone, e-mail, or via text eliminates that body language. A friend might tell you via these methods that he is fine, but looking at the person speaking might tell you that he really is not fine and really needs your help. Alternately, someone might be trying to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. The deal may seem fine electronically, but a look at the subtle signs available in the face are likely to trigger a healthy suspicion – especially if you are used to seeing the various types of body language.

The fix is simple, but not easy for everyone:

When dining with someone, turn off your phone and ask those with whom you are dining to turn off their phones. The absolute only exception to this is if you are on call for real emergencies (such as a doctor), and in that case put the phone on vibrate and do not answer unless it is a life-and-death emergency. Or in other words, as far as the phone goes, pretend it is 1960. Cell phones did not exist in 1960 and people survived just fine.

When driving turn off the phone. Again, generations of people were able to drive without a phone next to them. It will also make you a safer driver.

At least once a day sit in silence for a minimum of 10 minutes doing nothing and thinking of nothing. Increase it to 30 minutes gradually. Congratulations if you can sit for 30 minutes doing nothing now – that makes you unique these days. This disconnection will help you have a more peaceful mind and will help increase your attention span. There has been information recently that the average attention span is 10 or 15 seconds. Seconds, not minutes. For comparison, consider that Walt Disney identified that a child’s attention span was 15 minutes – scenes had to change every 15 minutes to keep the child’s attention on a movie. We currently have less attention span than a child of early last century!

Meditation and yoga are other methods to quiet your mind. You can use the techniques of both practices without accepting the religious backgrounds which brought them to us.

Using these techniques or similar techniques will help you tune into your life. You will be more aware of what is happening around you and be able to participate more fully. Once you are in the habit of practicing these techniques you may find that you can get more done simply because you can focus better on what you are doing at any given time. It sounds counter-productive, but I have used these methods for years and find that I actually feel better and less stressed.

Tomorrow may be a great day to start these practices – it may help prevent you from being taken as a fool by your being more aware of your surroundings. Have a great April Fool’s Day!