Are you able to say you're living with no regrets? Think about that. You're all in on this life experience thing? Urban lingo uses "phone it in" to describe a non-committal, not-fully present effort. I'm not sure I'm 100% all the time either, so I wanted to understand why. And why instead of becoming more thankful for our amazing circumstances (because if you have some means of reading this you're of the more affluent part of this world), that we're seemingly more discontent and still searching. Let's look at some of the reasons we're not all there. Or here, if you will.
1. Our fixation with our bodies and our external environment...as if any of it is lasting or the way to true fulfillment. Time and time again we quote meaningful expressions of gratitude for the intangibles that make life worth living.
"The best things in life aren't things."
"The love of a family is life's greatest blessing."
"The best friends make you laugh a little louder, smile a little brighter and live a little better."
And yet, we put far more time into the quest for abs than we do each other. Come clean with yourself. Most of us have moments of dread thinking about just sitting around with the family. In our heads we're squirming, thinking, "there's so many other things I could be doing right now!" We want the perfect body. We want the perfect home. The perfect car. The perfect clothes. The perfect "look" of our lives. Tim Robbins created a great analogy for this when he said, "we waste time looking for the perfect lover instead of creating the perfect love."
2. We over-consume social media. We don't look at facebook every few hours because we love facebook. We love the distraction from our reality. We're creating distraction habits. Just because A.D.D. is real doesn't mean everyone has to have it. Of course some people actually do, but the rest of us are just giving ourselves permission to be mentally all over the place. Partially involved. Always ready to move on to the next thing. Next shiny object. This isn't entertaining enough. Scroll.
Gee, I wonder why happiness is so fleeting and nothing really impresses me anymore.
3. That brings me to the most relevant point for most of us - image management. We can't just capture memories; we have to manufacture them. I'd venture to say more women do this than men, but it varies from pre-teens to post-menopausal. "Delete that picture. I look fat." I've been there. Done that. A social media post has the ability to onset a meltdown. Now the ACTUAL memory has an entirely different meaning. What could have been a beautiful moment to remember is now a reminder of our less than perfect existence. Most of us are not sharing on social media to express ourselves. Or to connect. No. We crave affirmation.
Did you affirm me? Do you like me? Can I like me today?
We're missing out on our lives putting the answers to these questions in other people's hands.
4. Electronic engagement is half-ass communication. It's safe connection, so it isn't genuine connection. Seeing someone for coffee and staring them straight in the eyes is now terrifying. I'll be safe here behind my email address security blanket, which ties into my next point...
5. The need for speed (raises hand in guilt). How much more can I pack into my day? There is not enough tempo variation to our lives. It's go, go, go and if it isn't we probably aren't successful enough or in enough demand. Our packed schedules and our pace is part of our worth. The problem isn't with getting things done and moving the ball every day. It's with not allowing ourselves to change speeds. When we can't comfortably move slower, we're missing out on presence. The buzzword here, "mindfulness."
It's a western mindset that sitting and doing nothing is wasting time. Is it though? It just might be the key to unlocking our greatness. Releasing the resourceful and brilliant nature within us that's suppressed as we stay in high gear. Too much go takes away our trust in God and puts all the responsibility on us.
Let what we do today be enough.
6. We are numb. We're more "connected" today globally than we have ever been. Something tragic happens in another part of the world and we'll find out almost instantly. The problem with this is we're growing numb to tragedy. A terrorist attack? Oh, how sad. Post something sad and move on. A shooting? We could react and move on to the next thought in 60 seconds. It's as if its commonplace. There's no emotional depth to despair because it's everywhere. So we don't know empathy. We don't feel things deeply unless they are truly in our faces.
And with that, we don't experience joy the same way. The depth of our compassion or lack thereof is also the reality of our inability to express gratitude. So nothing is ever enough. It just is. Sad, happy, angry, they're all blurring into a gray area. Just close that tab so you can move on to the next distraction. We have to allow ourselves to dwell in our feelings, so we don't paralyze ourselves emotionally.
We're missing out on life.
7. FOMO. Another urban dictionary favorite. It's now super common, especially for young people, to have the "fear of missing out." So we will do anything not to miss out. We want it all. An incredibly scary thing for all of us is one day looking back on our lives and feeling like we missed out on something or we had regrets for what we didn't do.
But is the fomo really helping us or hindering us?
We're doing anything to be a part of everything, so are we really getting to the bottom of what we're as individuals meant to do? In doing everything and being everywhere you can be keeping you from actually doing the ONE thing that would create lasting contentment and your impact in the world.
Are you running around in circles looking for a happy high when what you're missing out on isn't life, it's YOU. What do you want? What do you actually like? What sets your soul on fire? Stop doing everything just to be involved and start doing YOU.
So what's the antidote? Pick one thing, your worst offense from the list. We all have done some if not all of these things. And spend the next week or few weeks changing it. Staring in the mirror too long scrutinizing yourself every morning? Write a thank you card to a friend in that time. Scrolling for more than a minute for no reason? Close the phone and sit still. Listen to your thoughts. Say a prayer. Schedule time with the people you love to do things without electronics. Look people in the eye. Say what you think. Allow yourself to feel more deeply.
I'm writing about this, because I want to DO this. And I know I'm going to fight myself on every point. Sit still more. Meet people face to face more. Meet people where they are, not where social media has led you to believe they are. Only post the real me on social media.
Yeah, that's what I want.