by Amy Blankson
For those of us born before 2005, I’m sure you can think back to a time in your life that was not lived side by side with technology. When you had to go down to the library to look something up instead of searching for it on Google. When you had to make plans with your friends in advance of showing up somewhere. When you had no idea how many steps you had taken that day or how many times you asked a girl named Alexa a question.
The younger generation, on the other hand, spends an average of six-plus hours per day on their phones, literally changing a quarter of their life experiences from what we have known in the past.
With technology living in tandem with human beings, supporting nearly every function of our busy lives, the question now being asked is, are we happier? Would we be better without technology? Where are we heading?
These are some of the questions I ask in my new book, The Future of Happiness (April 2017, BenBella Books), which outlines several strategies for balancing productivity and well-being in the Digital Era. When people ask me these questions, I respond with some of these ideas:
Is technology making us happier?
Knowing that technology is here to stay, we need to learn how to live with the complexity of technology, not escape from it, but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our well-being. That is not the price we pay for having access to information.
That being said, in order to live in harmony with technology, we must make a conscious effort to focus on what’s most important in our lives and to not get distracted.
Consider this: when you’re flipping through Facebook, posting pictures on Instagram or using any of the apps on your phone, stop and ask yourself, ‘is this making me happy?’ If you don’t know the answer to that question, create a trial period for the app that you’re using. If you feel happier or more productive after a month of using the app, make a mental note of your progress and continue to use the app.
If the opposite is true, you know what to do. Toss it out like yesterday’s newspaper. Life is too short to be wasted on apps that are not contributing to our overall well-being.
When it comes right down to it, technology is merely a tool to help us, not the answer to all of our problems. It is up to us whether or not we will allow technology to control our lives and our happiness. We all have the innate power to control technology so we can continue to live positively and productively.
What can we do to maintain a well-balanced technology diet?
In order to maintain a satisfying level of happiness and well-being in the Digital Era, it is important to consciously curate the amount and quality of technology consumed every day.
There are several strategies you can implement to find the right level of technology consumption that does not affect relationships or productivity in other areas of your life.
Establish tech-free brain breaks throughout your day to help your brain recharge, whether it’s right before bed, taking a phoneless walk on your lunch break, or playing with your kids. When interacting with others, close your laptop, and take your earbuds out to say hello when someone walks into the room.
Establish hard-and-fast rules for your use of technology and model digital citizenship in a way that makes sense for you. Not only will your life become more productive, but as you start to form good tech habits, it will create a ripple effect for those around you, especially your kids.
Beyond these ideas, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you have the ability to change your mindset. Just like Dorothy had the power inside of her all along to go back home to Kansas, you have the innate power to shape the future of technology and your happiness. You are welcome to let technology run your life, but just as simply, you are allowed to take control of your technology. Our devices can have a positive effect in our lives, but only if we allow it. As Shakespeare once said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
To learn more about strategies that can help you be more productive and happier with technology, click here to order The Future of Happiness.
Amy Blankson is a happiness expert on the forefront of testing new technologies to foster well-being. Amy’s upcoming book, The Future of Happiness: 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being in the Digital Era, (BenBella, April, 2017), brings her years of experience in happiness research and consulting to deliver a roadmap for those feeling overwhelmed by the wave of technology. She has a BA from Harvard and a MBA from Yale School of Management. She has been called upon by the likes of Google, NASA, the US Army, and the Xprize Foundation to consult on positive psychology strategies.