When I travel I spend a lot of time in airports, hotel lobbies, and on public transport. I see almost everyone absorbed by small screens and wonder how much human interaction we are missing out on. I find myself curious about whether empathy, compassion, and social intelligence are suffering. Recently during a conversation with an executive, he glanced at his smartwatch ten or eleven times in a few minutes. I realized that he must be constantly alerted to emails, texts, and/or phone calls.
We now have the potential to be digitally connected at all times. This can be a boon when it comes to handling something that truly needs our immediate attention. There is no question that our tech-heavy world definitely impacts the quality of our lives — both positively and negatively.
I decided to buy a smart watch for one reason — to be more present and more connected with what matters most in my life. This is why there is only one notification on my watch. No alerts of emails, texts, phone calls, or social media postings.
Every 8-11 minutes my watch vibrates on my wrist.* It is a reminder to be present — to feel my feet on the ground and the breath in my body. Then I connect with the experience of love and peace I want to have in my life as I go through my day. I connect with my intention to be as kind, supportive, and helpful as I can be.
Anger, frustration, traffic, weather, other people, fear, sadness — these things all show up because we are complex humans living in a complex universe. While I cannot control all the things that show up in life, I do get to choose what I practice.
The reminder that shows up on my phone screen says “Wake up: Open, Breathe, Smile, Love.”
Being present to what is actually happening is a foundation for returning our attention to what is most important — the values, goals, commitments, and relationships that matter most to us. It is easy to lose sight of all of this in the bustle and demands of daily life. Having a reminder to bring my attention back when it wanders is very helpful. It helps me punctuate my days with a return to why I believe I am here.
Someday I will be gone. I will no longer have the opportunity to put my attention and energy into the things that are most important to me. No amount of wealth, fame, approval, power, or achievement will change the fact of my mortality. This is why I have only one notification on my watch.
*The watch I use is a Skagen hybrid and the reminder program is Mindfulness Bell.