For years I’ve tried to push myself to NOT watch so much TV or to NOT spend so much time surfing the internet.
I recall journaling about this back in 1997 so this has been at least a two decades long internal struggle!
I know enough about how the mind works to recognize that at least part of my difficulty was that I’d set myself a ‘negative goal’. And suppressing your thoughts doesn’t work.
You can experience this for yourself quite simply: try NOT to think about a bright pink elephant…
A few weeks ago, as I was reflecting on this challenge of mine it dawned on me that I needed a new distinction.
THE POWER OF DISTINCTIONS
Distinctions are not ‘truths’. They are a tool, an interpretation or story that is empowering.
They help you to DISTINGUISH your world.
The more distinctions you have, the more empowered you are.
In an everyday example, I don’t have many distinctions around WINE.
It’s either red or white, cheap or expensive, cork or screw top. My favorite distinction is when it has a nice picture on the label—in which case I’m FAR more likely to buy it!
As you can see, I’m not very empowered when it comes to buying wine or serving it to my guests.
However my friend is a sommelier. She’s trained in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing. Top sommeliers can command extremely high salaries because of the power their distinctions carry.
HOOKED TO TECH
Couple this with the fact that many of the top scientists on the planet are working on ways to keep us hooked to our iPhones and to Facebook and social media and we’re fighting a tough battle.
There’s a reason we crave sneaking a peak at our Facebook account when we’re out to dinner. Or we feel a phantom buzz in our pocket and think we’ve got a text message.
Ever hear someone else’s phone ring and unconsciously check your own? Ever sit on the toilet scanning through your social media accounts? Don’t tell me I’m alone in this!
In Franklin Foer’s new book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, he compares the way we feel about technology in 2017 to the way people felt about pre-made foods, like TV dinners, when they were first invented.
He says: “We thought that [TV dinners] were brilliant because they did away with pots and pans — we didn’t have to go to the store to go shopping every day — and then we woke up 50 years later and realized that these products had been basically engineered to make us fat.
I worry that the same thing is happening now to the things that we ingest through our mind.”
ANALOG vs DIGITAL
DON’T Watch TV/Surf the Internet vs Watch TV/Surf the Internet — has not been a powerful distinction for me.
So recently I created the distinction of ANALOG DAYS vs DIGITAL DAYS.
During my month in London, I took a week of Analog Days in Richmond.
I told my friends and family I’d be out of touch for a few days and moved to a hotel near the River Thames. I went to a spin class every morning. I had a green smoothie for breakfast. I read a real paperback book. Fiction. Just for fun! I went for long walks along the river. I had a massage. I laid in the park, looking up at the sky. And I kept my phone and iPad locked in the hotel safe.
My Analog Days were heaven.
I’m looking forward to creating Analog Time EVERY week when I’m back in LA.
How would YOU spend an Analog Day?
What do YOU want to STOP doing—and what new distinction could you create to give you power over a habit that drains you of energy?
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