We live in an hyper-connected culture—too connected if you ask me. Everywhere we go, people are on their cell phone. If you don’t believe me, complete this social experiment: count the number of people you see either on or looking at their cell phone today.
Our culture screams: my cell phone is more important than you.
And I’m probably the world’s worst.
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Whether it’s client’s emails or folks inquiring about speaking or checking the weather or checking Facebook notifications or carrying on conversations online, there’s an urge to always have to stay connected. Truthfully, it’s an addiction.
It’s so bad that a couple of years ago, I was called out by a friend who said, “Man, I know we went to lunch, but I don’t even feel like we went to lunch. You were on your phone the whole time.”
Yes, I know, I’m a jerk.
How terrible to write and speak about living a rich life and neglect the folks that are right in front of me?
It’s tricky because the desire to be on the phone is usually to connect with and help people, but that justification often paves the way for an excuse. However, I’m beginning to learn that the most important person I can connect with is the one right in front of me.
Now don’t get me wrong, the stories and relationships that are afforded by technology are amazing. I have been able to connect with folks from all walks of life that I may have otherwise never encountered. But the truth is, we can’t overlook the opportunity we have right in front of us–our life online cannot supersede our real life.
In order to combat this challenge, I have come up with two intentional and strategic practices to remind me.
The Discipline of Ditching
Recently, my wife, Liz, and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. And to make the trip a little sweeter, I added a gift.
The night before we left, I told Liz, “I know we don’t usually give gifts, and this isn’t much of a gift, but I want to give you something this weekend.” She looked at me, slightly puzzled—curious as to what this gift was going to be.
“I’m going to turn off my cell phone for the weekend.”
Her slight chuckle was a combination of disbelief and elation.
And guess what?
It was an awesome weekend. We walked through the city streets of Charleston, holding hands and sharing great conversation without interruption. It’s some of the best time we’ve spent together in quite a while.
In fact, it was so enjoyable that I’m going to begin intentionally practicing it more often. I’m ditching my phone.
Bottom line: those around me, especially my wife and kids, should never have to compete with my phone.
In addition to that, I have realized the importance on unplugging personally. Just me—no phone, no connection, nobody else—alone with the Lord. I recently heard this described as digital fasting and for me, this happens best when I’m exercising.
As a triathlete, my time on the bike or my time in the water are the best times for me to get away. When I’m training, I don’t take headphones and I don’t take my phone. I’m totally alone with my body and my thoughts.
This time is essential. When your body and mind and soul are in unison, unencumbered by the demands of life, you discover a deeper level of living. You’re not responding to external circumstances, you’re listening to the internal whispers—the nudges that will direct you.
As I thought about it, Jesus was a great example of this. The Gospels often mention that Jesus went alone to pray or that he left the crowd and went to be with the Father.
Jesus unplugged. We should too. If you’re wondering, yes, I just Jesus juked you.
So wherever you are today, I would encourage you to really consider this challenge of embracing those in front of you by putting your phone down and making sure that you take time to unplug.
Your life—and your wife, kids, friends, co-workers—will thank you.
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About the Author
Matt Ham is dedicated to guiding others toward rich living. His own experiences have led him to the understanding and freedom of a rich life, and through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover true richness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment.
You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com
To contact Matt, visit www.mattham.com/speaking