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