By Elizabeth Cobb, LCSW
About a month ago I wrote a blog post about being disconnected for 72 hours. It was a refreshing and eye-opening experience about how great it is to be freed from the tether of technology and constant connectivity. However, once I got back to the hustle and bustle of the city, the temptation to be glued to my phone returned. I did try to be more mindful, but old habits die-hard.
I was about to embark on a 10-day vacation to Maine and was viewing it as a working holiday. I had so much work to catch up on and I figured a quiet week by the lake was the perfect opportunity to be productive. When I arrived at the lake house my attitude completely changed. Laid before me was a beautiful secluded lake with water so tranquil it looked like glass, and so quiet that the loudest noise was the birds. As I surveyed this beauty from my porch I turned to my handy cell phone to take a picture. I went to send it to a friend but was confronted with no service on the upper left side of my cell phone screen. How had this happened again?
After realizing I had no cell service I subsequently discovered that there was also no Wi-Fi and no TV. So much for a working vacation! However, I was so taken by my peaceful surroundings that I didn’t mind. I delighted in daily kayaking trips on our private lake, and enjoyed observing a pair of loons in their natural habitat. I recently read a book by Arianna Huffington called Thrive, and in it she talks about the “third metric” of success, which is mindfulness. I smiled to myself when I realized her lessons about enjoying the moment and being fully invested in your surroundings were in full evidence on my vacation.
In the future I think I’ll continue to purposefully take cell phone vacations. I can’t remember a time I felt more relaxed and slept better than I did that week in Maine. Time moved slowly, there was no urgency and I could delight in every moment. I think I got the mindfulness message loud and clear this time, even if I continued to resist after my 72 hour experience. I will continue to share my impressions of a life less plugged in. I would also love to hear from you, the readers, about your struggles with being over-connected.
Elizabeth Cobb, LCSW is a therapist in private practice in Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you find yourself having difficulty with a smartphone addiction or would like to learn more about mindfulness, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.