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Adulting: The Whirlwind of No Pauses...

My husband had to quickly stop into a store for a few minutes, so I waited in the car. With no specific purpose, I picked up my phone and mindlessly started scrolling.

Why didn’t I pause a minute to just be? Why didn’t I take a few deep breaths and really experience the gift of waiting that life had given me?

Because I didn’t see it as a gift. And I sure don’t want to admit it, but I am addicted to my smart phone.

In a Calm Masterclass course, “Social Media and Addiction” , Adam Alter wisely refers to our smart devices as an “adult pacifier”. His gentle voice coupled with his expertise on screen addiction give a powerful wake-up call. After hearing him speak, I’m starting to believe all these years I’ve had it wrong: I’ve assumed my phone has allowed me to live life more richly. Maybe left unchecked, my usage is taking away that richness.

How so?

Alter reminds his listeners that we no longer have as many natural pauses as we used to. He calls them “stopping ques” and explains that these ques are “natural breaks… subtle suggestions that perhaps it would be time for you to move on.” He then gives the example of a physical newspaper with its finite number of pages and articles. Once we have finished reading, we put the paper down. That is our stopping que to go on with our day.

With smart phones in hand, we no longer need the time to fold up the newspaper because we can read news non-stop. We don’t even have those miniscule pauses while we turn a giant sheet of newsprint to search for part two of a long article we are reading.

I’ve started recognizing other stopping ques I enjoyed in my past but no longer encounter due to my smart devices. Those natural pauses and breaks are a gift I had wrongly labeled “time wasting”; they are actually precious moments when I can process life while being present in life (vs in a phone bubble.) Resting my eyes from a screen is a good thing, right along with long breaks and even boredom.

So, now I find myself in the strange position of re-creating stopping ques. (Hello again, intentional living!) No, I don’t need to revert back to VHS days so I can rewind my tape. But I might need to set myself a timer to keep out of an endless television loop. I might need to remove my phone from the room, so I don’t multitask. I might need to let myself be bored in a waiting area.

No, It doesn’t feel natural, but it soon will. And not only will stopping ques bring back a nice rhythm to my life, I will feel enriched. Because with Alter, I agree that the pauses are more than pauses:

You end up experiencing the world much more richly, and I think that’s something that’s worthwhile.

And I definitely want to experience the worthwhile. Even if it means putting my phone down.


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