Last updated April, 2018.
note: we link to our free guide to mindfulness and meditation at the end of this article (no email required).
I recently attended a concert and was amazed at the sight of a sea of smartphones being held high in the air to record the event.
Reflect on the irony of going to a live show and recording it on your cell phone for later. Instead of enjoying the present moment and what is happening right before your eyes, you are focused on capturing it to watch at some point "in the future."
The price we pay for trying to capture these moments for future reference is the absence of enjoying the moment as it happens right now.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but we can use it for not-so-wonderful purposes. We try to freeze moments, as with the example above. And, we use technology to escape "here and now."
Have you looked around a busy restaurant lately? You see people sitting together, but not spending time together. They are on their phones texting, playing games, looking at social media, or browsing the web.
It seems all of us spend a lot of time somewhere other than where we actually are. Why?
The blame falls on our minds. They are compulsive, constantly churning out thoughts, emotions, and stories. And, they almost always want to be somewhere other than here, doing something other than what's happening in the present moment:
You are in one place, but your mind takes you to another place!
And, if we encounter moments of silence, we call them "awkward." They are uncomfortable, and we want to fill that silence with something. Anything!
The world around us is happy to oblige. We are constantly bombarded with stimuli in the form of social media, radio, television, video games, stores, phones, computers, the Internet - the list goes on and on. And, our attention jumps from one shiny object to another, to another, to another...
Taking all of this into consideration, it should come as no surprise that when you identify with your mind and thoughts, you are constantly restless. You are uncomfortable in the present moment, you are uncomfortable with silence, and you always want to be doing something other than what you are actually doing. As a result, you experience stress, anxiety, unease, discontentment, et cetera.
What's the solution to this problem?
Become aware of your compulsive mind, and take a few minutes every day to seek out and enjoy silence. Sit down and focus your attention on your breath - breathe in and breathe out, and when you become aware that your attention has wandered, simply return it to your breath. This is a simple exercise that will start you down the path of seeing that you are not your mind, and you are not your thoughts.
Thoughts, and all of your mind-made activity, should be tools that you use - not the other way around.
In addition to cultivating awareness of your compulsive mind, make an effort to step away from the technology - even if it's just for small amounts of time. Put the phone on silent, turn off the monitor, or close the laptop; spend a few minutes enjoying your surroundings and the present moment. Go for a walk, and leave your devices at home.
Most of all, enjoy now NOW - don't try to record it for the future.
If this article resonated with you, you'll probably enjoy this short video:
*Our free guide to mindfulness and meditation has been shared more than half a million times - go read it and find out why (no email required).
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (the precursor to CBT)
"An owner's guide to the mind"
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