THE BLOG

Is Your Smartphone Stealing Your Joy?

11/13/2013 04:59 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

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Adapted from an article that first appeared on ClearYourStress.com

Recently, I confessed that the Internet was the very air I breathe. I admitted that I found it refreshing for not only me, but my kids as well. If you read that post, you know that I'm a big fan of technology. After all, how could I be opposed to something that empowers people with knowledge, connects us to people far and wide and brings laughter and entertainment into our homes (and hands!)?

I've been thinking lately, though, about how technology not only connects us but separates us, not just from one another, but from life itself. And when I say life, I mean the present moment. Because life happens in the present; it's only our minds that create the illusion of the past and the future. (Wrap your head around that one!)

So, I started evaluating how often I'm truly in the moment. Am I allowing myself to really experience life, or am I constantly succumbing to the distraction created by the buzz of one of my myriad devices? Should I just turn off my phone and live in the real world once and a while? I know; it's not a novel notion. And I've tried it before.

When two of my children signed up for soccer a few months back, I vowed not to be one of those moms watching her kid through the filter of an iPhone screen. Of course, even that is way better than getting caught texting when your kid makes his first goal. Not that anyone would ever stoop that low. Don't get me wrong, I am not mom shaming. I am well aware of the temptation my Smartphone holds, and I am also not above checking my email during a particularly boring PTA meeting. But I did make myself a promise to disconnect from the virtual world and reconnect to the real one, if only for a single soccer season.

It was not easy. There were so many would-be action shots that would have looked awesome with an Instagram filter. I was counting up the likes those cute pictures of my 6-year old with her purple jersey and matching polka-dot hairbow would have garnered.

But I have to tell you. It was worth it. The joy I felt by contemplating the determination in my little boy's eyes and the sun reflecting off of my daughter's blonde hair was so much more gratifying than fiddling with my phone.

Believe me, I'm all about preserving memories, but when you find yourself recording an event rather than experiencing it, it may be time to reconnect to life in the moment. Doing so can help us all rediscover the beauty of life beyond the screen. At least it did for me. Imagine having coffee with a friend without the constant interruptions of incoming emails and text messages. Yes, you will feel anxious and maybe even a little awkward without something to swipe, but I guarantee you'll have a more meaningful conversation. You may even make eye contact -- a girl can dream!

Many of us (myself included) carry our work around with us nowadays without even realizing it. Even a moment of fear over what might happen if you don't immediately respond to that email your boss just sent can ruin the simple joy of a chat over coffee. How many times does this happen in a day, a week, a month? If we continue to let these distractions steal our joy, then it's no wonder we sometimes feel stressed and depressed.

If you're concerned about detoxing from technology, try starting small. Changing a single habit such as that morning email check can make a big difference. Once you realize the peace of being able to turn off the world and experience a truly unadulterated moment, you'll have no problem powering down your phone to reconnect to what's really important.