I was riding the subway the other day, when I noticed a new ad campaign from our local energy company (Con Edison). Although the ad was meant to be cheeky or clever, I found it disheartening. The ad read: “You don’t have an off switch. Why should we?” I embedded a photo of the ad below, so you can see it for yourself. It’s a photo of a man on his way home, in an elevator, glued to his smart phone. It appears to have been a very long day, coming home late at night, still working as he makes his way to his front door.
Why would Con Edison find this image and message a positive selling point for their company? Maybe because they find it is the truth. An adequate portrayal of the life people live today. This is what I find disheartening.
Where are we? As I walk down the street everyday, I encounter so many people that are on their phones. Many of them practically walking directly into me because they don’t look up. They are glued to their phones. Is that really where they want to be, glued to a phone all day? Is that how they want to be? Completely distracted, all the time?
I found this really great video on meditation this week. I loved it. It’s full of such great conversation on the topic of mindfulness. One of the speakers mentioned that happiness could be considered a skill. And that practicing mindfulness (awareness) can lead to an increase of overall well being.
We forget that we are human beings. Time spent enjoying the breeze, or a sunset, or the sound of birds, is part of our nature. Shutting down; getting adequate rest at various times during the day, and sound sleep at night, is crucial to good health. Having moments to quietly ponder things is part of maintaining your sanity. Taking time to see and experience what is around you, or to greet people with eye contact or a simple acknowledgement, or to simply be fully present — this is what brings peace to you, and to those around you.
It’s no wonder we are at war, and families are falling apart, and people are starving or hopelessly unemployed, and there are so many car crashes, and alcoholism and drug abuse is so rampant, and there are people with extreme greed, and people are killing innocent people out of rage. We are losing the BASIC threads that hold society together. Our physical health and our mental sanity is at risk when we have no idea how to be peaceful, or happy, or to simply be — because we are consumed with work and technological gadgets. Consumed with getting ahead, instead of being in the moment!
Try to catch yourself in these moments of being hypnotized by the media, by gadgets, by work, and by consumerism. Unplug. Shut down by shutting it off. Get outside and enjoy the elements. Rest indoors and find some quiet. Exercise and move your body in new ways. Give hugs and physically reach out to people in person. Look people in the eye, even people you don’t know. See what is around you. Work on creative projects that you never have time to get to. Find out what it is to BE YOU. To do what you like to do, versus what society tells you you should be doing. Have fun experiencing what it is like to simply breathe. To feel what is like to be alive, without all the busyness and excessive doing.
A meditation practice helps with this, but is not necessary. If you are a person that has a hard time shutting down, I highly recommend a structured meditation practice for you. This means, scheduling time to meditate daily, making time to shut down or shut off, if only for a few minutes a day. See it as a priority, just as you would for anything important on your to-do list. For the people that are relatively ‘at peace’ most of the time, or find resting or ‘simply being’ rather easy, just keep at it. Continue to explore it, and continue to cultivate and share this sense of peace. Either way, continue to have a practice of mindfulness. Continue to see it as a skill, as a key ingredient to health, happiness and overall well being. If you have any questions at all about it, please feel free to contact me. You can post a message in the comment section, or you can find me here: click link.