Joseph Ratliff Writer, Researcher, Thinker

Tag Archives: Enjoying Life

Our “Default Screens”

Do you always have to kill time, fill the void, or say something?

I’m bored at times, but is that really a bad thing?

Is that boredom something that always has to be handled? According to Nina Yau from Castles In The Air, perhaps we should re-think our need to “kill time” if we’re feeling bored… from her blog:

Suffering comes in many forms, not all of them obvious. When we start to suffer from our own boredom, which is essentially the inability and impatience to sit with yourself with absolutely nothing to do whatsoever, we seek refuge and escape. Boredom, or validation, is an unnecessary byproduct of this false illusion we have created in our minds, that unless we do or say something, we aren’t anybody.

I happen to agree with Nina.

Our obsession with “doing something” all of the time, with diving into our default screens when we’re feeling like there is nothing to do, or that nothing is happening… I think we need to evolve past the “anxiety” this builds as a society, and I think we can do so, very easily.

I’m defining a default screen as that thing you do, or that device you pick up and start poking, swiping, or watching when you get that “bored” feeling or feel you have “time to kill.”

Sometimes mindless shopping or consumerism acts in place of this default screen.

Your default screen has negative consequences… like not paying full attention and walking off of subway platforms, to staring into that screen while someone is getting killed.

Is there any viable excuse for this type of distraction?

There are thousands of examples I can point to, and others which have been pointed to by book authors like Nicholas Carr (among many otherexperts).

The evidence is overwhelming, and it will not change by ignoring the problem.

We need to shut off this behavior, the tendency, to desire such mindless tasks like staring into a smartphone screen, poking around on a tablet, or purposeless shopping just to take up time.

This means changing your “default screen” habit, just as you would any other habit:

  • Start small. Try to notice when you’re filling time with your default screen, or mindless shopping etc… Don’t change anything, just spend a few days noticing when you’re doing it.
  • Make a small change. Once a day, just try to deep breath and relax during the time you feel the urge to pick up a device and start poking or sliding (by the way, mindfulness and meditation are excellent for your overall health).
  • Transition to bigger changes once you see results. When you’re feeling bored, or looking for a distraction, replace that feeling with something else, like the meditation already mentioned or simply striking up a conversation (face to face, not online or on the phone) with someone.
  • Keep going… until you begin to develop a new habit that replaces the urge to shove your head into your default screen (usually anywhere from 30 — 90 days before a new habit is created).
  • Celebrate. Take yourself (or yourself and a loved one) out for dinner.

The above process can be modified, filled in, altered, whatever suits you. I can say that I’ve used the above process myself, and it worked for me.

I no longer have the urge to head straight to my former default screen… and while that doesn’t mean I NEVER, ever grab my tablet (a new Nokia 2520) and surf the ‘net… it means I’m much more mindful of when I do.

In the end, we are human, and that means we can always evolve. That (the ability to evolve) is a gift, and we should embrace it.

We need to evolve past letting our technology distract us from the world around us, and instead take control of that technology.

Because I for one, am tired of hearing stories of “texting while driving” accidents, people walking off of subway platforms…

… and bumping into people who are walking around, or standing around, like zombies.

We’re better than that. It takes work to evolve yourself in this way, but the rewards are numerous (better relationships, a liberating feeling, control of your technology, awareness, critical thinking etc…).

So turn off your default screens people, and enjoy the thousands of gifts that have already been given to you in your “down time.”

What Life Is And What Life Isn’t

Life is…

  • That funny sign or moment that you and your family talk about for hours in one day.
  • Looking up in the sky and wondering “How small am I?”
  • Getting lost while driving somewhere, and finding something even more exciting.
  • The look on your kid’s face when they realize your wisdom helped them “connect the dots.”
  • The first cup of coffee in the morning, on the back deck, on a crisp Fall morning … in silence.
  • Noticing that someone placed three turtles in the pond you walk by every morning.
  • Noticing three more baby turtles a few months later.
  • Opening your Twitter account and coming to the realization that it’s just a tool, nothing more, so “meh.”
  • Just slowing down for the first time in your life to realize that you’ve already been given all the gifts you need.
  • Your son or daughter’s first sports championship … and the look on their face when they’ve won.
  • Thinking.
  • Reflecting.
  • Thanking.
  • Writing.
  • Drawing.
  • Sharing.
  • Reading.
  • Pursuing a thought-experiment in the attempt to solve a bigger world problem.
  • Writing a book in the attempt to help people improve their lives.
  • Realizing you have too much useless stuff.
  • Realizing why you have so much useless stuff, and the impact it’s had on your life.
  • Getting rid of that useless stuff.
  • Realizing you’re not alone, that other people have the same fears, faults, and pretty much the same life as you do.
  • Realizing that since you’re not alone, you can do whatever you want to improve the situation after reading this post.
  • Realizing that life isn’t handed to you on some silver platter, and you are the only one who can impact your life in any meaningful way.
  • Realizing you’re in fact distracted by the links included in this post.
  • Realizing that some (not all) of our technology is completely useless and only there to pull money out of your wallet.
  • Realizing this list is not complete, but that anyone reading this post can complete their own list of what life is.

What life isn’t…

  • The stuff you own.
  • The competition behind the stuff you own.
  • Beating the “Jones’es”.
  • How successful you are.
  • What you look like.
  • About trying to look like “that model in the magazine” (male OR female).
  • Buying the latest purse.
  • Buying the latest wallet.
  • About having the biggest house.
  • Creating an economic system that benefits only you and a select group of others in your wealth or political class.
  • Your opinion “winning.”
  • Greed.
  • Selfishness.
  • Envy.
  • 80 hour workweeks.
  • 60 hour workweeks.
  • Having your kids being raised at daycare all their lives.
  • “Sacrificing” any part of your limited life in the name of some mega-corporation that really won’t give a shit that you did sacrifice.
  • “Trolling” in the sense of the online world.
  • Spamming.
  • Being insecure about yourself.
  • Policing each other with the intent of catching people doing something wrong (which biases your judgment of their doing).
  • Damage to the environment.
  • The latest “fashion trend” which is designed to get you to spend your money on a schedule (nothing more).
  • Upgrading to the latest gadget for no reason other than to be the “first” with it.
  • Scamming other people out of their hard-earned money.
  • Endless, mindless consumption.
  • Remaining a mindless drone.
  • About continuing to think about the superficial.
  • The endless pursuit of perfection.
  • Money.
  • Only choosing A or B.
  • About being a dick.
  • About failing to make personal changes as a result of reading the 2nd part of this big list.

Well, that covers the stuff I’ve thought about for the last couple years.  Will add more as it comes up.

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You MUST Enjoy Every Moment In Life…

On Sunday, my mother-in-law went to the hospital for a simple, routine operation…

It didn’t end up as simple as originally thought.

As of now, it might be awhile before she recovers, and can leave the hospital. In fact, we’re on pins and needles every day because of what happened.

Kinda puts life in perspective, doesn’t it? What is really important comes to the forefront when this is happening.

You MUST enjoy every moment in life.  Don’t settle for anything…period.