Care to admit it or not, we’ve become a nation of tech addicts who spend more time looking at our screens each day than sleeping (on average 8 hours 41 minutes). When the average adult picks up their phone over 150 times a day, it’s hardly surprising that 69% of children say their parents spend too much time on technology.
If we look at the building blocks of happiness found in Positive Psychology Professor Martin Seligman‘s PERMA model, we find five key areas we need to nurture and cultivate in order to live our most happy and flourishing life. These are –
- POSITIVE EMOTIONS
So what’s the impact of our technology addiction on each of these building blocks? And how do our digital devices stop us feeling, thinking and experiencing happiness?
Let’s take a closer look at what toxic habits we could give up in order to boost our happiness.
1. POSITIVE EMOTIONS (P)
You’ve heard it before and yet you continue to watch one last episode of your favourite TV series on Netflix just before bed and then wonder why you have trouble falling asleep. The blue light emitted by our laptops, iPads and iPhones (also emitted by the sun!), slows the production of melatonin in the brain – the hormone that signals to our brain that it’s time for bed!
So Boost your chances of waking up in a good mood by implementing a digital curfew. Switch off all technology at least one hour (ideally two) before bedtime and benefit from the wonders of a good night’s sleep zzzzzz…
2. ENGAGEMENT (E)
Put a stop to those unwanted interruptions and the mindless browsing by keeping your phone on silent and out of sight. Don’t tempt yourself by keeping it on your desk or out on the table over dinner. This sounds simple, and it is. If you can get into the habit of removing your phone from sight, you have a much better chance of resisting the temptation to check it time and time again!
3. RELATIONSHIPS (R)
Try leaving your phone at home altogether when you’re out at social engagements. Especially when spending time with family and loved ones. Instead give them your full, undivided attention. Remind yourself of the days before mobile phones, and set a great example to your children too.
4. MEANING (M)
As social beings, we need human interaction to give our lives meaning and purpose. Start noticing how often technology gets in the way of a meaningful connection, be it a conversation that’s severed by a google search or a confession that’s told over Whatsapp.
5. ACCOMPLISHMENT (A)
If you’re relaxing a home over the weekends, try switching it off for an afternoon and instead dedicate the time to a new or existing hobby. Trial that new recipe book, pick up an old instrument or learn a new language and then benefit from the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel afterwards.
This article was originally written for HQ Psychotherapy & Counselling and published on 9th May 2017.