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The Epitome Of A Doomed Society Lies In A Web Of Convenience

The Epitome Of A Doomed Society Lies In A Web Of Convenience

Let’s be honest — we’ve become accustomed to the ease we find in our lives nowadays.

We find it in the drive-thru lane of our local fast food restaurant as we hurry to get home, only to grab the kids and hustle them off to their activities. Eating in the car instead of at the dining room table becomes the norm.

The latest in technology takes the worry out of forgetting anything and makes that part of our lives obsolete. Even the latest gadgetry in the newest refrigerator commercial tells us about “what’s in the fridge,” where we are told exactly what’s there in order to ensure that we don’t grab more milk and eggs when we don’t need them.

These are just a few examples, but the list is endless.

If you look at your typical day, how many tasks are aided by convenience? We all have things like smartphones, WiFi, and GPS now at our fingertips — no matter where we are in the world.

I love those same conveniences. But have we allowed ourselves to rely so much on these easy ways that by doing so we are hindering our own ability to deal with life as it comes?

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Have we forgotten what it was like not too long ago for previous generations whose greatest conveniences included milk delivered daily? Back then, the best way we heard about what was going on around us and around the world was on the nightly news program.

As I look at the faces of our children, who’ve had their own tablets and headphones since before they were four years old, I wonder if having these modern-day conveniences actually does more harm than good in the long run.

For example, are these conveniences adding more problems in other areas, like obesity? Are our children learning nothing about how to prepare for life as it will be, not as we wish it would be? Are there lessons they should be learning now that we are neglecting to teach them? Is doing so a disservice to them and setting them up for a failure that is destined to find them?

Has our level of “laziness” increased due to our willingness to pay for just about anything, as long as we have to exert the least amount of effort to effectively still get what we want? Does assigning blame for this new entanglement actually change anything, and whose responsibility is it to actually do something about it?

And my biggest question of all: am I the only one who sees this as a problem in our society?

Why hasn’t anyone else raised their own eyebrow to not just start the conversation but seek to find a solution?

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Here is my take on this issue:

Convenience is meant to make things a little easier, but we have taken it too far. We have allowed ourselves and our children to not just grab hold of the things that make our lives easier, but have built our lives around those conveniences.

Our addiction to effortless attention and the sense of entitlement the majority of society seems to carry with them throughout their lives is hindering the real progress we need to have to sustain our most valued morals and ethical behavior.

Now, don’t get me wrong — running through the drive thru will not undermine everything we have in one night. But look at what’s happened just in your own family: do you sit together at the dinner table and share a meal, or is everyone headed in different directions to the extent that even texting one another while in the same house has become normal?

None of us has the ability to change the world, but we can each impact our part of the world as we once again take ownership of what we value. Nothing in this life ever comes easy, and although technology has made advancements in improving our lives for the better, it is still our responsibility to use those technological advances in the best way possible instead of requiring them to do everything for us. Growing up, I remember watching The Jetsons and thinking that we were so far away from that kind of living. But now, I’m not so sure.

Where do we go from here? How do we fix this epidemic and create a different outcome?

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Here are a few ideas. Feel free to add your own.

Challenge yourself.

Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. In fact, some of the most important things come from the hardest moments. Don’t always take the easy road. In turn, you teach yourself more than you know and you also inspire others around you.

Don’t complain.

Life is tough and there are going to be some things we just cannot undo or fix. Figure out a way to make the best of your situation and even if the result is not ideal, your attitude will remind you what is really important.

Go back to the basics.

When something is done for us, we forget how to do simple things, like tie our shoes. Progress and innovation can inhibit our willingness to do even the simplest of tasks just because we don’t have to anymore.

Determine your priorities.

If a family dinner once a week matters to you, then make the time to include it as a part of your schedule. Don’t allow yourself (or others) to make excuses just because it is easy to do. If there is a conflict, reschedule. Never cancel.

Appreciate your loved ones.

It’s easy to take people for granted (we all do it from time to time) and yet should something happen, we would do anything for a few simple moments together. Talk to one another instead of sending texts or emojis. Nothing warms the heart and creates a moment more than a few shared words with the people you love most.

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Keep your values, morals, and ethics intact.

Nowadays, it is easy to get caught up in superficial things like title and status. Regardless of how far you climb that ladder at work or how many privileges are afforded to you, remember what got you there to begin with and mentor others when given the chance. Never forget who you are by allowing a few dollars thrown your way to change the kind of legacy you want to leave behind.

Follow through with your intentions.

Too often, people over-commit and then don’t want to face the realization that they will need to disappoint someone by choosing one thing over another. Say “yes” only to the things and people who you truly want to give your effort and time to — don’t cheat others with a half-assed performance because it’s convenient. Either be all in or get out.

Step away from the devices.

Don’t bring them to the dinner table, leave them inside while you relax by the pool, and allow the calls to go to voice mail. “Getting off the grid” is easier than we think it is — we just have to give ourselves permission to do it. If we don’t have WiFi at our fingertips at every second of every single day, that would still not be the worst day ever. Be conscious with your choice to turn it off at night, when out with friends, or spending time with your significant other. It is noticed more than you think it is, no matter who is around you.

Play.

Have fun. Remember what it was like to be a kid and do things that most of us have forgotten to do: run in the sprinklers, jump on a swing, blow bubbles. Laugh out loud, smile more, giggle. Shoot hoops and ride bikes. Color with sidewalk chalk or crayons. Dance and sing when your “jam” comes on. Adding fun things like these to your week increases your happiness and naturally gives you more energy when you have to do “grown-up” stuff.

Try new things.

We get into ruts very easily and neglect our human curiosity about being an adventurer of what else is out there. Get excited about starting a new part of your story with an exploration of sorts that includes going outside your comfort zone or just learning something new. You may not fall in love with this new thing right away, but maybe it will point you towards something that expands your horizons in ways you never imagined.

Our lives can be changed, but only if we decide to change them. This kind of change will intimidate some and inspire others. You know which side of the fence you sit on and what you do next determines if you choose to stay trapped or you decide to live more intently.

We don’t have to live this way. We can still fix this. Ultimately, that choice is yours as much as it is mine. The big question isn’t so much about your choice, but how committed you are to it. That’s what counts. The time to start is now.

Featured photo credit: Michael Podger/Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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