Thursday, December 21, 2017
|"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—|
|I took the one less traveled by,|
|And that has made all the difference."|
"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
We are all travelers in this journey of life. It seems to me that I've been traveling some pretty busy and clogged highways as of late. You see, I'm constantly on the internet - from email to the web and on every road in between. Perhaps you too.
But, I noticed something extraordinary wonderful this week. The emails have slowed, nearly to a stand still. It's provided me with a very special gift at this holiday time. A chance to reflect, to ponder, to observe, to relate to others, and even an opportunity to settle back and read a real book (one with pages that you turn by hand, almost like those old, very old cars, with cranks to open and close car windows rather than electronic switches that zip windows up and down in a flash).
Interestingly, it seems like too much of a good thing can, well, be too much. And, the internet with its numerous electronic enticements and inducements might just be that good thing that can easily take over our lives.
Obviously, I'm not against the internet. I'm on it right now as I write this blog. But, according to researcher Dr. Steven Illardi at the University of Kansas, too much reliance on technological wizardly can be hazardous to one's well-being:
"Labor-saving inventions, from the Roomba to Netflix spare us the arduous tasks of our grandparents’ generation. But small actions like vacuuming and returning videotapes can have a positive impact on our well-being. Even modest physical activity can mitigate stress and stimulate the brain’s release of dopamine and serotonin—powerful neurotransmitters that help spark motivation and regulate emotions. Remove physical exertion, and our brain’s pleasure centers can go dormant." https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-personal-tech-is-depressing
In the midst of this holiday season, why not take the "road less traveled" by giving yourself a wonderful gift by unplugging from the internet, even if just for one day. But first, let me be frank. Unplugging is not for the faint of heart; it takes purposefully choosing to travel down a different road, which perhaps at first blush, seems like a very lonely and difficult road.
You see, as Dr. Illardi relates, there's a research "study from 2010, in which about 1,000 students at 19 universities around the world pledged to give up all screens for 24 hours. Most students dropped out of the study in a matter of hours, and many reported symptoms of withdrawal associated with substance addiction." In other words, in choosing to take this road less traveled, even for just 24 hours, be ready to be ambushed by your own mind.
But, there's great news for those who kept moving on the "road less traveled" by staying unplugged for 24 hours. As Dr. Illardi states, "[T]hose who pushed through the initial discomfort and completed the experiment discovered a surprising array of benefits: greater calm, less fragmented attention, more meaningful conversations, deeper connections with friends and a greater sense of mindfulness."
So, as I wrap up my final blog of 2017, I'm about to go dark...I'll be shortly turning of the power switches to my computer and my so-called smart phone. At least based on the research, that's a very smart road to travel on. I'd love for you to travel with me and let me know how it goes! (Scott Johns).