I often find myself glued to my phone, especially when I have a few minutes to kill – standing in line at the grocery store, picking up a to-go order, when I’m waiting for someone else to get ready, etc. Why? Because like many people, I don’t like being bored. The problem is that when we constantly use our phones to keep ourselves occupied (or incessantly check them to be “in the know” at work), we deprive ourselves of opportunities to notice what’s going on around us and to just live in the moment.
Last weekend I was locked out of my parents’ condo building waiting for my brother, who said he’d be down in five minutes. What am I supposed to do out here for five minutes? I reached for my phone, and then decided to challenge myself to spend time taking in my surroundings instead. I noticed the vibrant green lawn had been freshly cut in neat rows, there was a stunning crabapple tree in bloom with dark pink flowers, and the surrounding pine trees almost made me feel like I was up north.
Then a Blue Jay flew into the picture. Its blue feathers were striking against the pink flowers and green grass. I watched as it hopped from branch to branch causing flower petals to drift off in the breeze. After a brief pause, it flew away just as quickly as it arrived. I’d only seen a Blue Jay one other time in my life (last week when I challenged myself to put down my phone in my backyard), so it all felt new and exciting in that moment.
By the time my brother came down, the annoyance I previously felt was gone and replaced by feelings of utter joy for taking in that little nature experience rather than missing it because I was on my phone. I told him all about it, and to my surprise he responded by sharing his own story of a recent Blue Jay sighting in his backyard (apparently, they are much more common around here than I realized…probably because I’ve been on my phone).
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. For many of you (at least in MN), that means going up north to your cabin, grilling outside with family and friends, or tackling yard projects. Whatever you do, I encourage you to notice the moments where you get that urge to be on your phone– whether you’re waiting for everyone to get in the car, standing in line at a store, or simply taking a few minutes by yourself away from the chaos. Rather than picking up your phone, notice what’s around you. What do you see? What do you hear? What does your body feel like? How do you feel mentally & emotionally?
It’s not easy to be present, and it’s hard remembering to think about it in the first place. But the more experience you get noticing yourself and surroundings in your personal life, the more you will naturally do it throughout your workday (i.e., waiting for your lunch, the bus, for meetings to start, etc.). I find this increases the moments of joy and gratitude I feel throughout my day, which also seems to decrease my stress and anxiety levels with less time spent focusing on the negatives in life. Bonus – I also find that my best work ideas come to me in these little moments when I allow my mind to relax and just be “bored.” So, this is a long way of saying that I wish you all an enjoyable, safe, and “boring” holiday weekend! 😊
Inhale through your nose for four counts and exhale out your mouth for eight counts. When you feel stressed, come back to your breath.
I wear fun socks each day, and now I'm known as the "fun sock lady" at my gym!
- Anne H. (Virginia)
I go to the gym before the sun is up and lately I have been walking there without my headphones in to enjoy the quiet peacefulness of the city before everyone wakes up. It’s sort of a meditative way to begin the day instead of constantly having pods/music/radio in my ear.
- Andrew C. (Pennsylvania)
Our firm has appointed me as “minister of culture” and my job is to always look to boost morale with work events, happy hours, fun sports pools and contests, and ensure we all take moments out of our days/weeks/months to enjoy our time together as co-workers and friends. - Tony C. (Virginia)
Be grateful for all you have to be grateful! - Kevin D. (Iowa)
I try to get outside for a walk every day, either with my dog or by myself! - Lori B. (Ohio)
I take mini-breaks throughout the day to play pieces I enjoy on my piano!
– Alice S. (Minnesota)
I always try to project positive energy to those around me regardless of the day I’m having. I’d rather project positivity than bring others down with negativity.
- Bill O. (Illinois)
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