In our age of amazing technological advancement, where new apps are created daily and we are busier than ever, it is easy to forget the most essential app we have: our own body and mind. In fact, in a recent National Sleep Foundation study, 63 percent of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Essentially, the mind/body app often takes a toll in our constantly-connected life.
While we want the newest and coolest app available in the app store, more people are realizing that taking care of themselves amidst an increasingly-connected life is paramount. Venture investor and Twitter advisor Chris Sacca said it best at the recent Wisdom 2.0 Conference, which I organize: "People are realizing, 'I have optimized my machines, my software ... ' yet we are beginning to realize that no matter how great a technological device we buy or how great our network is, the real source of potential is in ourselves."
How do we do harness this most essential app? Below are three key elements:
1) Pay Attention: Mindfulness Matters
"You must be present to win." -- a sign in Las Vegas
Mindfulness is the ability to bring our full attention to the present moment. It's what allows us to focus on our work, discuss a subject with an open mind and feel connected to people and nature. The opposite of mindfulness is "mindlessness," where we are constantly scattered and unable to focus on one thing.
Digg and Milk founder Kevin Rose, when asked why mindfulness is important, replied, "Because bad things happen to you if you don't." He went on to explain that there were times when stress has taken over his life, and he realized the need to slow down and take a breath in order to stay healthy and focused.
Zynga cofounder Eric Schiermeyer speaks on benefits of mindfulness in business, and went so far as to say, "If you want to super hyper wealthy, you really need to spend some time being mindful."
More people in tech are realizing the power of their attention, and the need to develop and harness this, as much as they build their other skills.
2) Do Something: The Power of Movement
"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it." -- Plato
A second element that helps us nurture the mind/body app is movement or exercise. Our bodies are not built to sit still for hours and hours a day in chairs. We need to move. Exercise is shown to have countless benefits, from supporting positive brain activity, to decreasing stress and lowering cholesterol.
A recent medical journal study revealed that people who sit for most of their day are 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack.
Standing desks and moving the body throughout the day, whether it takes the form of a walk, run or yoga, has significant benefit to our health and well-being.
Technology can support this, for example, through tools like RunKeeper, which provides a community for joggers, or simply setting an alarm on your phone to ring everyday that reminds you to move.
When we sit for too long, the mind easily stagnates and the blood does not flow. The human being is one app that needs movement.
3) Nourish the App: Foods that Aid
"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book." -- Irish Proverb
It's curious that when we buy the latest iPhone, we often purchase a nice cover for it, make sure it is protected from the elements and keep it in good working condition ... We want it to last as long as we can. However, at the same time, we often treat the greater app, our mind and body, with much less care, habitually eating food, from pastries to sugared drinks, that drain our energy and make it more difficult for us to focus on our work.
We have more interest in our iPhone lasting than we do our body and mind. Not all of us need to go so far as to kill all the meat we eat like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg does, but it helps to bring greater awareness to the food we take in and find foods that give us energy and support a healthy lifestyle.
Sites like Summer Tomato are dedicated to helping people do so, including buying and eating fresh, seasonal foods. As founder Darya Pino explains, "Your daily food choices are by far the most important factors in your long-term personal health, and upgrading your health style can add more than a decade of quality years to your life."
It can also help to find friends and co-workers who share this interest, and with whom you can share meals and offer and receive support in eating better.
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." -- Jim Rohn
While it is always exciting to get the latest external app, if we are not caring for the body/mind app in the process, we are missing something. So as we download that latest app in the store, it is good to remember to care for the mind/body app as we do, which involves paying attention, getting the sleep we need and noticing what foods best serve us.
If you think you have a more important app that needs your attention, go for it. However, without a functional mind/body app, none of the others work as well. It's one app that is not so easy to replace.
Soren Gordhamer is the author of "Wisdom 2.0" and organizer of the Wisdom 2.0 Conferences, which unites staff from technology companies such as Twitter, Google and Facebook with individuals from wisdom traditions to explore living with deeper purpose, presence and wisdom in our modern lives.