Have you ever been in a restaurant and sat next to a table where everyone was glued to their cell phone and didn’t even look at each other or talk? Have you ever gone to a networking event to find that the only ones connecting were those that already knew each other? Do you ever have to ask your kids to put down their devices and look you in the eyes while you are talking?
Most of us have and it makes me wonder if we are too digitally connected to the point where we have forgotten how to interact with humans in real life. I’ve spent the last week in Barcelona, Spain for a workshop being held by Billie Sastre and Victor Martin. They are fantastic hosts and we’ve spent a lot of time in the city exploring. I noticed some distinct differences in how people interact here and it inspired me to write this post.
Why do we have to move so fast?
The first thing I noticed when I arrived is that Barcelona has a much slower pace of life. When you go to dinner the waiters don’t try to rush you out to turn the table. Rather, it is fully expected that you will sit and talk for hours while you are there. The service may be slower, but the authentic human experience is far greater.
The rapid pace of technology and the desire to have everything OnDemand has carried over into our real lives. We are rushing from one place to the next at a pace that is so fast we can’t fully appreciate any of the experiences we are having. We do this without even realizing it because it is the new normal. We don’t even realize what we are missing out on because we are too busy to notice.
Do you remember the days when we really appreciated the music on the radio? So much so that we would dance and sing as a family driving down the road? Do you remember when we would go for walks as a family and talk about all the new flowers blooming in the neighborhood? Do you remember when we would go to a networking event and actually create friendships?
This desire to rush through our lives is causing us to miss out on some of the best experiences life has to offer. Is it possible to slow down and literally smell the roses in today’s uber connected world? It certainly is, if we make a conscious effort to do it.
When you find yourself hustling and bustling about stop and think, “experience this”. Focus on the experience, it could be a great experience or it could be a horrible experience. Allow yourself to feel it fully whatever it is. The crazy thing is that when you focus on actually experiencing things you tend to notice everything that is great about it.
Why can’t we put our devices down?
The other thing I noticed in Barcelona is that you don’t see a bunch of people with their heads in their devices at all times. At dinner people spend hours talking, to each other! They walk down the streets looking at the various shops, talking with others, or just gazing at the buildings around them. I found it incredible to watch how prolific it was to actually be present for whatever they were doing.
Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you check your device each day? Is it 10-20 times? 30-50 times? More than 100 times? The reality is that we are glued to our devices. Perhaps it’s a result of our fear of missing out (FOMO) that we have the urge to check so often, but what are we really going to miss out on? That Suzy shared a link to an article? That Bob posted a new photo of his kids? That you got a comment on your most recent blog post?
Are any of those things more important than the experience you could be having right now? Are they more important than talking to your spouse and kids at dinner? Are they more important than being fully present during a meeting so you know what’s going on?
My husband, Jay Kelly and I have an unwritten agreement with each other that we will be fully present in every moment. When we get together we check in so we can clear our minds of whatever is running about. Then, if we see that the other is head-down in their device and not present, we simply say, “Can you be present?” It’s a nice reminder that we are missing out on something more important than what is happening on our device.
When you find yourself head down in your device in the company of others, remind yourself to be present and put your device out of sight. When you are in the company of others who are head down in their device, the simple statement, “Can you be present?” works like a charm.
What would change if you were fully present for every experience?
Everyone will have different experiences along the way, but I’ve had some that are truly life changing. So much so, that I’ll never go back to my hyper-connected zombie state.
I notice that I feel safe to fully rest into the moment without feeling a pull to be somewhere else. As such, I’ve seen my daughter smile and get really excited about a pink covered donut at Dunkin Donuts, coloring a picture that she wants to give me as a gift, and even feeling clean after a shower. I’ve had in-depth conversations with my boys about things that are important to them, their fears, and what they are most passionate about. I’ve noticed Jay and I laugh more, appreciate each other more and truly enjoy being around each other more without our devices. I’ve built relationships and made new friends. I’ve actually taken the time to get to know what’s important to people and what makes them laugh.
I’ll tell you it’s one of the most rewarding changes I’ve made in my life. I hope it’s one you’ll consider trying for yourself. You may just be surprised with how great life is when you are fully present for every experience.
Do you think we are too digitally connected? Do you put your device down when in the company of others? Have you slowed down to relish in every experience? Or are you in the thick of it and happy where you are? Share your thoughts in the comments section.