I am truly thankful for technology.
It makes my life easier, it can be a lot of fun (cat videos), and I think it’s pretty cool how it connects us all.
But I also know, sometimes I feel addicted to my phone and I don’t like it.
I know what it’s like to mindlessly reach for my phone, to aimlessly switch from app to app, and scroll my news feed for a ridiculous amount of time.
What I’ve started to notice, is that it feels almost like I’m looking for something. Trying to fulfill something.
Well, turns out, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Science is proving it happens on a physiological level, but the good news is, I found a way to overcome it, so you can easily refocus your energy onto what really matters. All by asking one simple question.
I started asking it a few months ago (before I learned about the science). The question has changed my relationship with my phone, and it’s exponentially increased how productive I am on a daily basis.
Really. I can’t believe how much stuff I’ve gotten done that I’ve been saying I didn’t have enough time to do.
Part I: Why we get addicted to our phones
Phone and social media addiction are caused by two chemicals in the brain.
One (dopamine), causes us to “seek” out things. Survival wise, this is food, water, and shelter. Technology wise, this is information, phone alerts, video games, posts, pictures, cat videos, etc.
The other chemical at play (opioids), reinforces our seeking behavior by making us feel good whenever we find what we’re looking for. Success! Cat videooooooosss….
What happens when you can’t seem to put down your phone, is that you’re seeking out something (triggered by dopamine), and then getting rewarded with opioids (which makes you feel good), so you seek out more things (dopamine), and get rewarded again (opioids)… Basically, you fall down a seeking and reward black hole until you’ve wasted five hours and have a serious neck ache.
It’s no wonder the average American now spends 4.7 hours a day on their phones.
Part II: How to Break the Cycle
A few months ago, I was staring at my phone, hesitating between which app to open…
I realized I was looking for something, but that something wasn’t anything tangible. It wasn’t the answer to a question I had, nor someone’s phone number, nor was I responding to a notification.
I had just instinctually picked up my phone and was going to “look at things”. So fun.
When I realized I wasn’t on my phone for any particular reason, I asked myself, “What am I looking for”?
I realized, I was looking for a feeling.
So I dove deeper: What feeling?
Well, my soul was feeling inadequate, hungry. I was craving to feel inspiration, joy, and a sense of accomplishment.
So then I asked myself, “Will anything in my phone give me these feelings?”
And with that realization, I suddenly felt more present, more aware, and a lot less interested in my phone. The pull was gone.
So of course, the next question was, “What can I do to give myself this feeling?”
And again, magic happened.
I started doing things! Things that I’ve been wanting to do but never seem to have the time to do!
Things like practicing my guitar (which I’ve had for sixteen years but have never learned to play until now), reading one of the twelve books I’ve started, taking our dog for a walk, drawing, doing the dishes, doing yoga, cleaning the house, working on projects, etc.
Suddenly the house started feeling cleaner and more joyful, I was accomplishing more, I was happier, and I was more present all the time.
And all of it came from asking myself, “What am I looking for?”, whenever I mindlessly picked up my phone.
So give it a shot.
If you sometimes pick up your phone for no good reason, or to “look at things”, try this!
The way to generate the most joy in your life is to actively build your dreams, to do the things you love, to feed your soul.
While social media and our phones are useful and even fun sometimes, I bet you have passions you’ve never pursued, or dreams for your home or your life you have yet to bring to fruition.
I hope this tool can give you more time for these things. It certainly did for me.
What am I looking for?
Will anything in my phone give me this feeling?
What can I do to give myself this feeling?
I also have a bonus for you, if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter: I painted you this cellphone wallpaper to remind you to ask the question! I have mine set as the screen saver on my phone and LOVE IT!
(If you’re a subscriber, it will be in your inbox, along with this article. If you don’t already subscribe, click here!)
Let me know if you like it and I can make them for all my next articles too!
Know someone who’s trying to beat the phone addiction? Share this with them! Or share to social media!
All love and all things in moderation… Except joy and fun… And chocolate cake… And kittens.