02/20/2013 03:48 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2013

5 Reasons for a National Digital Awareness Day

I recently led a workshop focused on helping us develop a wiser relationship to our technology (smartphones, iPads, computers, television, etc.). In the beginning of the workshop, I explained how as much as we feel that technology is a part of our lives, historically, we're really just becoming acquainted with it. We talked about how in many ways, the people who came to the group were like "digital warriors," at the frontier of optimizing this new, wiser relationship to technology.

Here are five benefits we found and one thing that surprised me most about what would come in life if we had a national "Digital Awareness Day."

  1. Have More Balance -- All participants felt that they didn't have a balanced relationship with technology. Every single person interacted with their email or messages as one of the first things they did when they woke up, and many felt that this primed the mind toward wanting to check for messages more during the day.
  2. Master Your Habit -- We discussed the importance of being aware of cues that instantly trigger the brain toward making the decision to engage. A cue can be a person, place, thing, time of day, emotion, sound, thought, etc. Many people said a cue was being alone or waiting. Others said, it was feeling stressed or in times when there was a transition from one event to another. It could also be the sound or blinking light that triggered a need to check. Awareness of cues is essential if we want to get back in the driver's seat and sit in a space of choice, that Now Effect moment.
  3. Open Up Possibility -- If people were more aware of these "choice points," they said that they would rather rest, take a walk, be more intentional about connecting with people or go out in nature more. They might take a break checking Facebook for 20 minutes, instead of realizing there is a choice to do something more restorative. Get in touch with that choice point would be adaptive.
  4. Nurture Intimacy, Not Just Connection -- We discussed the difference between connection and intimacy and how we often go after connection at the expense of intimacy. We can be very connected, but online, the connections may not be fulfilling or intimate. Perhaps we need a bit more intimacy over having many connections.
  5. Cultivate Sacred Space -- We also talked about the importance of taking "sacred space," times in the day that are technology-free, if that's possible. Research shows that intimate connections around the dinner table are adaptive for our kid's development. Maybe intimate conversations as adults with friends and colleagues have a similar effect. Or are there times when we can take a walk and not be connected and instead default to connecting with nature, our self-reflections or just the surroundings around us.

This is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater; everyone acknowledged the profound gifts technology is offering us, and it's just about refining our relationship with it. In other words, a maturing process in the relationship.

Take Away

People in the workshop said that if they put digital awareness to work in their lives they would feel greater self-respect, more at ease, happier, more open to possibilities, less anxious, more mastery, and greater self-alignment with values. Sound like worthwhile benefits to me.

What thoughts do you have about having a national "Digital Awareness Day"? What would it look like to you?

Please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

for more by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., click here.

For more GPS for the Soul, click here.

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