Beat back digital addiction!

Posted on May 5, 2017. Filed under: Coaching, personal development, Professional Development, The Real and the Raw, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

It’s not quite clear to me when I went from being fairly well informed to being Uber-informed with the news.  Obsessed. Checking in on what’s happening, being up to date with what Reuters labels ‘Breaking News’ that runs like a ticker-tape on their online page.

But ever so slowly I became aware of my tendency to reach for my mobile phone, tablet or computer just to see what interesting links might have come into my inbox.  Neuroscience has shown that our brain receives hits of dopamine when something, anything, pops up on our screens.

Boxer_jorge-gonzalez-116859It’s just like gambling, only less expensive, (unless you consider the cost of loss of productivity).  For while we don’t lose money (necessarily) we lose time, focus, and direction.  Our minds are jerked all over the globe – possibly worthy places for us to be aware of like Syria, Russia, or Great Britain- but not where we actually are with our family, friends, job, and engagements.  Our thoughts are no longer dealing with our priorities. Nor are they necessarily with ‘the people in the room’; those people we’re actually surrounded by and supposedly interacting with.

I do know however when my awareness of this addiction became crystal clear.

It was the current global political morass which woke me up.  Why do you think?  It was because reading the news made me feel bad, sad and oh so not glad.  As I got up in the morning I could feel the apprehension around what I might read – either a phantasmagorical tweet or ‘breaking news’ totally out of sync with how I imagine my government should be functioning.

As I struggled to get my head around the day’s pronouncements and events I felt weighed down.  That was the trigger of my awakening.  For that feeling of frustration, stuck with me throughout the day.  The greyness overshadowed my activities and so subtly infected most everything I was trying to accomplish.  Like a fog it obscured what was possible.

That realization was an eye opener and it provided me with the mental shift I need to drastically cut my addiction to my digital devices.

So now in the morning before starting work I check the headlines to make sure the world is still turning.  But I resist the urge to start reading articles.  At lunch time I allow myself the choice of 3 compelling headlines so I can stay abreast of those issues I care most about. It also seems like my resilience is stronger in the afternoons.  I am more able to keep things in perspective. Maybe because of all I accomplished in the morning!

I also learned to look for people or topics I feel reflect the best that mankind has to offer.  I often find these in TED Talks where I discovered Boyan Slat, a young man focusing on removing plastic from our oceans, or Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer creating nature reserves allowing fish to reproduce and avoid extinction. This is information which increases my motivation to get up and get going.

So no I have not isolated myself from my interest in global news.  But like an apple, one a day keeps the doctor away. Enough is enough and the world will continue to

Peonies_may2017_IMG_2891

turn even if I don’t know the latest tweet out in cyberspace. My heightened understanding of the draw of those dopamine hits helps me to approach the news, and my entire digital-life, with a stronger intention of being informed and looking for the people in the world which bring me inspiration and hope instead of frustration and angst. While I still feel the tug, I also feel much more focused and in charge of my choices!

What dopamine triggers are dragging you down?  Any ideas how you want to beat them back?

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