The very first step is to take the time for self-reflection.
Self-reflection is hard, but it’s an essential step in learning to live intentionally with your values and ideals guiding your life. Too often, we see the flaws in others before we realize that we too are doing exactly what we are complaining about in another person. Or we spend so much time helping others solve their problems that we never take the time to reflect on our own needs or how to change our behaviors.
Here is an easy and simple way to begin to notice your own behavior around the intention to be more present when surrounded by friends and family. We’ve all been in the situation where we are having dinner with friends or hanging out with a small group of people, and the conversation is going great. People are engaged and laughing. Then, someone mentions something that no one in the group can remember the answer to. Whether it’s Ross’s monkey’s name on the show Friends, the year or the song Beyonce sang at the Super Bowl, or the actor’s name in a movie you just saw. And then the major shift in the gathering happens- someone pulls out their phone to google the answer.
Take this moment to notice your own behaviors. For example, do you feel the desire to reach for your phone? Or have you caught yourself in mid-swipe before noticing what you are doing? This all too common scenario is remarkable to take a moment of self-reflection. And it happens by pausing. Taking a beat and sitting in what I refer to as the seat of observation. You can notice your urges and desires in that moment of a pause, by not immediately moving into action.
Here is how it’s played out for me one too many times. The answer is googled, often by a person who has their phone on their body, and then there is a quest for others to pull out their phones, “did I show you the pictures of our vacation/a room that they painted in their house/the new puppy?”
Or another classic one is showing someone a funny meme you saw, a video clip that has gone viral, or a snippet of a comedian that you recently watched. At that moment, I’m scrolling on my phone to find whatever video I saw that I thought was worth sharing and who honestly knows how much time has passed but what was once a lively discussion has shifted. I’ll look up, and everyone who was once talking and having a great time we are all on our phones. Because this scenario has happened more times than I would like, I’ve made a rule that no phones are allowed at the table, which means no googling the answers. We have to deal with the frustration of not knowing or continue figuring it out as a group.
In the moment of self-reflection, you can change your behaviors and choose differently. So take the pause, the moment before moving into action, and notice for yourself how you’d like to change your behaviors so that you are living more intentionally. And maybe create your own phone usage rules around your gatherings. It has made for a more interesting conversations in our house.