A frequent conversation around the coworking table is the nuisance and distraction that technology, phones and social media brings. This stems from doom scrolling, to issues spurred on from social media and questions on how to ‘correctly’ parent technology. It’s a big multilayered problem and it seems the thread of desire is to find a way to detach. We want to remove ourselves from passive connection and stop being distracted by our phones.
When we use our phones we are selling only our time, it’s often the moments where we want the time to pass that we fall into the trap. We are always wanting to be busy, we always want to be consuming, maybe it’s time to step back and let yourself be bored. Let yourself day dream and be alone with your thoughts.
“Solitude Deprivation. A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.”― Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
So what are the real problems we cause ourselves when we take to our phones for light entertainment or to pass some time? A study in 2007 by Dr Martin Hilbert and Dr Priscila Lopez found that the average person is drowned in 174 newspapers worth of information everyday, across TV, radio and reading. It’s easy to assume that this figure is even greater today. When you consider how much information we receive everytime we pick up our phones you soon realise why it’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the doom and gloom in the world. Or more likely, you feel yourself becoming ever more detached and unresponsive. We have no time to form any true compassion or understanding as we are always onto the next big news story.
Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics, found that on average an adult working in an office stays on a singular task for no more than three minutes before switching tasks. We are tricked into thinking that we are great multitaskers, we are not- we are however very good at getting distracted and losing focus. Mark argues that especially during computer based work, instead of seeing a new tab, email reply or doom scroll as adding a new task, see it as adding a new distraction. This sounds easy but we have already programmed our brains to shift focus constantly, this is why we always are reaching for our phones.
After 14 years, I deleted my Twitter account and removed the app from my phone. This was spurred on by the change to X, in a weird way the visual change prompted discomfort but also made it easier to delete and let go, so thanks for that Elon! Since then, I notice myself whilst routinely checking Facebook and Instagram my thumb automatically going to tap the Twitter app. My brain is fully in a trance, it’s terrifying! Another thing I noticed, whenever I think of something funny my brain frames the thought as a tweet. It’s like an ingrained desire and need to tweet it, again…terrifying!
I feel like I do not need to delve into the problems around phones too much as we all experience it daily. I did consider counting how many times I picked up my phone whilst writing this piece but I feared it would be too shameful of a number. However, I do not believe that a complete detox, hiatus or banishment is the answer. Nor is blaming or shaming ourselves. I think it’s more important to consider the good things phones and tech can bring to our lives. Think of how much time has been saved through emails, online banking, google and life admin. We just need to be more aware and purposeful of how we use this tech.
For me, it’s the small impromptu moments of time where picking up my phone is becoming a problem. The automatic reflex to have a quick look always turns into at least ten minutes of scrolling. It is entirely passive consumption and is the definition of needless. I’m really good at misplacing my phone, something I’m weirdly proud of. It means that it’s not constantly on my mind or in my hand. Now when I lose track of it, instead of hunting it down straight away I purposefully question why I need to find it? What do I need it for? Unless the reason is valid, like calling my nan or if there’s a fire that needs tending to, I do not bother looking for it.
‘You want to read a book, but you are pulled away by the pings and paranoia of social media. You want to spend a few uninterrupted hours with your child, but you keep anxiously checking your work email. You want to set up a business, but your life dissolves into a blur of facebook posts that only make you feel envious and anxious. Through no fault of your own, there never seems to be enough stillness.’-Johann Hari, Stolen Focus
By detaching from our phones, time alone can become more nourishing, remove the need to compare and focus solely on ourselves. Instead of taking to social media for a ‘break’ try out some meditation, a little day dream, a quick stretch or a wee stroll around. Maybe what you’re craving is in fact a quick brain reset! Choose to feast on your own life, instead of small snippets of others. Rember, tech is designed to be addictive but we can choose to have a more purposeful relationship with it.
Don’t forget, habit is key and habits are harder to break than they are to form.
As always, we would love to hear your thoughts, keep in touch by signing up to our newsletter below! You can find our previous blog posts by clicking here.
Thanks for reading,
I recently stumbled across a documentary titled, The Man Who Wanted To See It All. It told the story of Heinz Stücke, in 1962 he left Germany and set off on a bike ride touring the world which spanned close to 50 years and covered enough distance to circumnavigate the world 15 times around.
What I found striking about this documentary is that Heinz did not set out to be the best cyclist, or the best photographer and any records that he broke were seemingly a welcomed accident. His soul focus and purpose were set on experience, connection, seeing and being. After leaving his home town in 1962, Heinz decided to not return home as he deemed going home as the end of his adventure. After over 50 years of nomadic living, this is where the documentary found its focus.
The documentary shows Heinz putting his memories in order and sorting through his tens of thousands of photographs, reuniting with family and friends and reflecting on his achievements and sacrifices. Something that has stuck with me since watching this documentary was how his friends spoke of his life journey. Friends from childhood reflected on his journey with great solace, they asked the question “I wonder if he is happy?”. The conversation felt heavy and remorseful. In contrast, the family that grew close with Heinz in Japan spoke of Heinz and his journey with tremendous joy and fascination, they remarked that Heinz had achieved Ikigai. But what is Ikigai and how do you find your ikigai?
“I consider myself a treasure trove, what I hope of the day is that it gives me the pleasure of finding something new” – Heinz Stücke: Home is Elsewhere.
Ikigai roughly translates to, a reason for being. The word itself is composed of two worlds: iki, which means life and gai, which describes value or worth. The word can be used similarly to happiness but ecompasses a deeper nuance. Ikigai is also about discovering your purpose and aligning your actions with this. If you have a clear sense of purpose, you can then align your sense of purpose with your values and goals.
By thinking of ikigai in relation to Heinz, it’s easy to assume that to achieve it you must do something extraordinary, however the true meaning of ikigai is rooted in the ordinary. Ultimately, this practice allows for moments of happiness in each day, you can find meaning and joy in even the most mundane tasks.
“I found the way of life I enjoy, and what is better than to follow a life which is fulfillment. The journey is my fulfillment.” –Heinz Stücke: Home is Elsewhere.
In Western society, ikigai is seen as a tool to achieve a long and happy life. A google search will show you a plethora of venn diagrams on how to achieve it with four overlapping qualities: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.
This Western approach includes work and payment which isn’t necessarily the truest adaptation of the meaning. At its core, ikigai is as simple as finding out what makes you happy each and every day. When you ask yourself questions around the principles of Ikigai it is vital to curate answers about you and your soul, not your work.
Of course I agree that you can align the principles of ikigai with your working life in order to achieve happiness and satisfaction in all meanings of the words. Nevertheless, I think it is wrong to consider your work when asking questions around ikigai. Ikigai is deeper than your work, it is about you, your inner being and how to nourish your soul. Once you have answered these questions honestly, you can then apply these to your work practice.
“Japanese people believe that the sum of small joys in everyday life results in more fulfilling life as a whole”- Yukari Mitsuhashi
Your life is not limited to your work. It is only possible to find ikigai in your practice if your work’s values and ethics align to your own, your work must also actively nurture your personal growth and wellbeing. There is nothing wrong with the Western adaptation of ikigai and it can be used as a powerful tool to navigate and curate your working life.
Regardless, I think we should break away from ‘Ikigai in the workplace’ and instead keep it simple. It is far more powerful to get in touch with yourself. If you can find something in the everyday that makes you happy, brings you joy or a sense of awe you too can find ikigai. No matter how big or small.
Write down your answers to these questions and actively incorporate the answers into your everyday life. This is how to find and nurture your Ikigai and lead a happier and fufilled life.
“essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” – Hector Garcia, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.
To find out more about Hans Stücke, click here.
We post new blogs every month. To see more, click here.
Join us for our next Tribe Talks with Rise of Happiness to help create your path to happiness. To book your free ticket, click here.
Share your thoughts and keep in touch by signing up to our newsletter below!
Thanks for reading,
Creativity is unique to each individual, it encapsulates many different forms, processes and connections. Creativity and play can generate an important challenge; embracing fear and your inner critic. We lose interest in hobbies as we grow older, arguably this is as they need to hold a greater meaning than ‘just for fun’. Spending our precious time on something, anything, must produce a worthy outcome and once play is lost from our lives, it is difficult to regain.
A quick google search of the word ‘play’ will primarily show images of children playing, but it is just as important for adults to play too! The further removed we become from the idea of play, the more troubling the idea becomes. A purposeless activity becomes a concept that is impossible to grasp and often causes feelings of awkwardness. The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts a day and creative play has been shown to help focus the mind. Creative play and finding your flow can reduce anxiety, depression and stress. So why is it so alien to us?
Flow is a state of mind achieved when you are fully engrossed in an activity. When you lose all sense of self and time, that’s flow. It’s been found that repetitive creative tasks can help you find your flow, tasks such as writing, knitting and drawing are great examples of this. Once you have achieved a state of flow, your brain becomes flooded with dopamine, the feel good chemical that helps to motivate you and ultimately will encourage you to repeat your chosen form of play.
“…It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
Having fun with creative play is often seen as a nice idea, but we are at a loss as to where to start. For most people, it’s been so long since they last played, they have forgotten altogether how to do it. Whilst it is a nice idea, we are no longer sure what it means to play. In the words of Maya Angelou, creativity is a bottomless pit: ‘The more you use it, the more you have’. Creative play becomes even more important as we age and as our lives get busier. When embracing play, it is important to remember that the act of play must be deemed as being more important than any form of outcome. Most of all, creative play should bring you joy, you should engage in play to immerse yourself in a moment to moment experience.
“Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival.Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.”
― Stuart Brown, Play
Often, we recognise that people benefit from free spirited play such as dancing, scribbling or writing but cannot see the point in engaging in it ourselves. Art in any form wears a veil of elitist mysticism. If you view yourself as an ‘outsider’ to the culture, it becomes even more difficult to engage with it. Instinctively, we lean into these feelings of imposter syndrome by becoming more concerned with the physical outcome than the positive internal feelings the act brings us. Creative play is not about making great art, or a great piece of writing, it’s about finding your flow and happiness.
I think sometimes we need to grow down, free ourselves from the constraints of what it means to be an adult. Let yourself indulge in silly fun and stop thinking about what is and isn’t possible. Be in the moment, open your mind, find your flow and remember, the act is more important than the outcome.
Share your thoughts and keep in touch by signing up to our newsletter below!
Thanks for reading,
I think we are all feeling the strangeness of 2021. I accidentally wrote an email out to everyone at Tribe saying we should say good bye to 2020. Many of us are saying last year doesn’t count, but it does. And most likely in ways we don’t yet understand.
We have somewhat transitioned out of the high alert state and into life with normalised constant threat and high potential of change. Life with both feelings of normalised loss and at the same time, new levels of appreciation of things that used to be taken for granted. The constant stress of playing out the worst case scenarios is exhausting. With burnout hovering over or perhaps already landed for you, this year has been full and dull.
According to Adam Grant,
“We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing. Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
Psychologists find that one of the best strategies for managing emotions is to name them. Last spring, during the acute anguish of the pandemic, the most viral post in the history of Harvard Business Reviewwas an article describing our collective discomfort as grief. Along with the loss of loved ones, we were mourning the loss of normalcy.”
Simultaneously, I have had countless conversations with people expressing how they have found new levels of awareness and a better pace for life since Covid. Usually that is quickly followed up with how bad they feel about saying that when they know many people have suffered so greatly. I have caught myself saying that too. I liken this to hitting rock bottom and the perspective that gives you- the only way is up.
I purpose going against the cultural norm of numbing and leaning into meaningful acts. Adam describes this as flow- that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away. Grant goes on to site a study of flow;
“During the early days of the pandemic, the best predictor of well-being wasn’t optimism or mindfulness — it was flow. People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their prepandemic happiness.”
Finding flow is becoming increasingly more challenging. We have a million things pulling at our attention all of the time. It takes a huge amount of discipline to stay focused. But a distracted mind is the enemy of flow.
I have noticed that when I am feeling a bit low, I check my emails more often and I scroll through my social channels in a mindless way. Now when I catch myself in this state, I take a moment to try and think about what is really bothering me. Sometimes it is easy to figure out, sometimes, all I can do is change my habits. I notice that behaviour now and stop. I find something more focused to do- even if that thing is to sit and do 4 mindful breaths. I disrupts the bad habit, one tiny task at a time.
This can come in many forms and probably why I crave playing cards or board games from time to time. They create a contained task that my mind can concentrate on. No need to think about the ever growing to do list or what I forgot to do or what I need to think about putting on my to do list. Although finding an effortless state and flow are different, it is a good place to start.
Csikszentmihalyi describes eight characteristics of flow:
Flow state is losing yourself in the moment; when you find your abilities are well matched to an activity, the world around you quietens and you may find yourself achieving things you only dreamt to be possible.
To me that sounds worth the effort and at least one way of approaching 2022; an antidote to some of 2021’s languishing.