The Avoidable Stress We Create

social-anxiety-disorderWhat do you do?”

It’s slightly less offensive than asking, “How much money do you make?”

But it’s a socially acceptable way of asking the same thing.

It’s a way to profile you. 

We prefer simple categories.

Black and white.

Good and bad.

It’s easier to categorize someone as a lawyer, doctor or a plumber.

We can process those stereotypes without investing time to get to know them.

We are selfish. We want to know immediately what value that person is to us. What we can get from them — money, connections, friendship or love.

We’re always racing for the next thing.

American culture is to keep pressing forward.

More money.

More things.

More titles.

We rarely stop to enjoy what we have or the people we are with.

We worry what we may be missing, so we overlook the now.

It’s crazy.

Go to dinner with a friend.

It’s impossible for two people to be present without picking up the phone to see what they are missing.

Facebook, Twitter, email, text messages and the rest — constantly pulling us from the present.

A never ending distraction.

I live in a constant state of mild anxiety.

I could not figure out why because I’ve created a relatively stress free life.

It’s hardly noticeable, but it’s always nagging.

This summer I saw a couple of kids sitting on their skateboards.

They had nothing but time. They were talking. Presumably about skateboards, girls or whatever young boys talk about.

I realized I miss those long summer days of boredom on my own skateboard.

The time when life was slower and I was in the moment.

Kids rarely do that now.

Instead, they do what we do — fill the void with our phones.

There is no silence.

We fear it.

I challenge you to sit alone in a coffee shop without picking up your phone.

It’s damn near impossible.

A month ago I turned off Facebook just to see what would happen.

I’ve been surfing more. Camping. Backpacking. Taking my boat on the lake.

All places where there is no cell service.

When you’re used to constant stimulation, it’s hard to do without. Like a drug.

It’s almost painful when you have a chance to daydream again.

You can have that rare conversation in your head.

The one you used to have when you were a kid (if you’re also product of the 80’s).

I am not against technology. I miss Facebook. I’m sure I will be back.

I have online friends and I miss the funny videos. Facebook was my only news source. But it also filled my mind with garbage.

I’m not sure of the solution.

I’m not even sure there is a problem, but there is certainly something.

It creates stress we did not previously experience.

We are evolving. We can no longer sit still.

We cannot enjoy the present.

We are always seeking something, but rarely do we know what that something is…

…so we never find it.

We just keep looking.

I will leave you with this one take away.

A challenge..

Leave the phones in the car.

Go to coffee with a friend for 20 minutes.

Then a 45 minute dinner.

Then try a three hour dinner and drinks– like they do in the rest of the world.

Go surfing. Hiking. Go in the back country with a backpack for a few days.

Turn off Facebook for a day. Week. Month.

Just see what happens.

It’s enlightening.

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photo: I took this at Pismo Beach

2 Replies to “The Avoidable Stress We Create”

  1. This was moving. I am actually that person who makes a rule of not not having tech during quality time with friends or my kids. O love being in the and just soaking in the sounds, smells and sights around. I have found my balance is being proctive throughout day w techws, and business. Then every weekend morning, chilling outside in back yard w nothing but coffee, journal and good magazine. Thank you for this article. It will inspire me to always strive for a balance.

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