Take Back Your “Now” (Your Cell Phone and Your Happiness)

(How your cell phone is ruining your day to day happiness?)

Two of my greatest passions in life are travel and photography.

So the first time I ever walked in to the medina of Casablanca, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, or the Highlands of Scotland my first instinct was to bring out my camera. Knowing this I imposed on my self what I call the “10 minute rule” where I forbid myself from taking a picture for at least the first 10 minutes of being somewhere. Why? Because no photograph can properly convey all the tastes, smell, sounds, sights, and feeling of a first time memory. Sure a photograph can jog your memory to a situation or occurrence but it’s a poor substitute at best. When you are 80 years old sitting on a porch in your rocking chair your greatest happiness will come from all the experiences in your life.

So with that being said, put away your fucking cell phone.

Our cell phones have become the constant nagging secretary, entertainment center, and by-the-minute annoyance that are slowly pulling us away from our real duty to actually live. As Americans we are becoming too future focused instead of present focused. I shake my head in disappointment at the guy on his iphone filming a concert, Times Square, or the Hoover Dam. How can the memory of being at Disneyland watching fireworks with your family be possibly replaced by recording it on your iphone? By the sheer fact that you are focusing on your 2” screen you are diluting attention from your smiling children and the infectious group emotion of happiness you are experiencing. And concerts and movie theaters, why even go if you aren’t going to pay attention and feel the music? Nothing is going to beat the first time you walk underneath and experience the grandeur of the Eiffel Tower or listening to the soothing water flow of the Trevi Fountain. Nothing.

But this heinous crime against ourselves goes beyond those major experiences. It’s starting to affect our interpersonal relationships with others. How many times have you had a face-to-face conversation with someone when you stopped to answer your phone. You just irreparably interrupted the cadence and flow of your interaction and made the person you are talking to feel 1% less important. My rule is, top priority is always with the ones I am with. So if I for some reason I absolutely have to answer a call/tweet/text that second I will usually excuse myself and apologize to the people once there is a natural break in conversation. If its important enough to “update status” now, it will be important enough to “update status” in a couple minutes.

We are also breeding a generation of people that don’t feel like an experience is real unless it is shared on the Internet. Meaning as soon as an event is in progress they feel like they must to share it digitally with the rest of their “friends” thereby diluting their own experience. Furthermore, while you are sitting there at Jiffy Lube facebooking the profoundly deep “Changing my oil, FML” you are missing out at the cute guy sitting across from you trying to pick up any kind of buying signal from you. There’s a lot to see out there when you aren’t focused on a 2” screen.

How do you fix this? Leave your phone in your car when you go to the gym, movies, or similar events. Limit time on social media. What have I done to take back my “now”? Last week I deleted the facebook app from my phone. It was taking too much time and attention away from my day. I found that I’m much happier when I log in at night and find several messages at once instead of a slow trickle of information throughout the day. So eliminate the clutter of apps on your phone that really aren’t helping you at all. Resist the urge to tweet “in the moment” and focus on experience. Truly pay attention to the person in front of you, how beautiful the people are in the subway are around you, or even focus on driving that two ton dangerous moving machine you call your car.

On your death bed you will never find yourself saying I wish I played Angry Birds more or checked out Raul’s vacation photos one more time. What you will be saying is, “I wish I went to Egypt”, or “I wish I savored that last bite of pain au chocolat on the champs elysees”, or “I wish I talked to that guy/girl I saw at Whole Foods that one time in the gluten free hemp kombucha aisle”. Because life is all about experiences you should do everything in your power to absorb these experiences with every one of the five senses at your disposal. So pick your head up and look the world in the face, because it’s there for the taking.

[PhotoHyperion Ave in Silverlake, Los Angeles]


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