For the next handful of blogs, I'm going to make the small ways smaller yet. I'm going to write some veeeeery basic blogs focused on some veeeeery basic truths — truths that constitute small lessons in themselves. Because ultimately, no matter their small size, to my mind, these very simple lessons are really fucking important. So I'm going to begin with...
PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY.
Seriously. Not just down on the table or back in your purse. Put it AWAY. Somewhere it's not within arm's reach. Somewhere just far enough away that in order to use it or look at it, you have to stand up and/or move to do so.
If we keep our smart phones right next to us, we are inclined to use them near-constantly. It's a semi-accidental action that increasingly happens on autopilot. If you don't believe me, test it yourself. Put your phone somewhere within reach, and as you put it down, swear to yourself you won't pick it up for any reason for at least the next 10 minutes. Within the span of maybe four minutes, you'll no doubt have failed in your pledge. You will have thought of some question or task that seems important, and you will have picked up that phone, entirely forgetting your lofty no-phone-touching-for-ten-minutes goal. Even though looking up last season's winner of the Great British Baking Show or ordering more of that fancy beard oil on Amazon SEEMED important enough to grab for that phone, you know the truth: it's not. But the thing is, sheerly by virtue of having access to endless information and resources, we feel justified in constantly accessing them. And if your smart phone is within your reach, you will keep picking it up.
So why do I want you to put the damn phone away? Because while you're looking down at your phone, you're missing out on some fairly big and important and good parts of your own life. You're failing to see the vibrant colors of the leaves on that tree, or the look on your son's face when he made that ridiculously terrible but simultaneously hilarious joke. You're not meeting your new neighbor, because when you walked by, you were reading yet another article about the next season of Stranger Things. You're not talking to your husband, because he's shopping for a new pocket knife while you're looking up a new way to cook asparagus.
I am starting with this lesson because it happens to be one that *I* have a very hard time remembering. I go on long walks, head bent, my eyes focused on the latest Google Newstand articles about the things Google semi-creepily knows I'm interested in. I "watch" an Oscar-winning movie as I shop for a recliner that doesn't offend me. I start my morning by grabbing my smart phone from the nightstand, when really I should roll over and focus first on my amazing soon-to-be-husband. But I know I know I know that I've got to do better, because when I do things like this, I'm missing out on much of my world. And I don't want to miss out.
I'm not at all saying smart phones are a bad thing. They're not. It's simply their overuse that's the problem. So start doing yourself the small favor of putting the dang thing away every now and again. Put it in a drawer, or in another room. It's there if you really need it. But you'll have to ask yourself first if you really need it. And sometimes, you'll realize that you don't.