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Three Ways Technology may not be Improving your Life

Three Ways Technology may not be Improving your Life

Technology has been a remarkable force in our lives and continues to improve our lives in a variety of ways.  However, if we are not careful and conscious of our use of technology, it may be detrimental to vital aspects of our lives.  It is imperative that we maintain awareness of our intentions especially when it comes to the use of the many devices that we have become attached to in order to function effectively and efficiently.  Otherwise our consciousness can be hijacked by technology and before we know it we look at the clock and realize we’ve been scrolling on Facebook for five hours.  I’ve done it and I’m pretty sure you have too, right?

I really enjoy observing people in public.  It’s kind of an obsession of mine.  This being said, during my observational expeditions it is very common to witness people walking along the street heads down involved in their Twitter lives or sitting in a restaurant with their partner, each on his or her phone typing or scrolling away.  (Perhaps they are ordering their meals or texting each other!)  My observations continue to be consistent across a variety of environments.  This has become the norm and I am certainly not judging anyone that does it because I often discover that I am doing the same thing without awareness.  Thus, this post comes out of my personal experience and my desire to point out three specific ways technology has not improved my life and has actually hindered it.

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There are three areas that I noticed were being affected by the constant use of my cell phone and other technological devices.  If you are similar to me, you will realize that this may also be the case in your life.  I would say there are plenty of human beings that have had their consciousness hijacked by technology and perhaps aren’t even aware of it.  The first step we need to take in the change process is to become aware and then come up with a plan to change the behavior.  So let’s get to it!  I will present three areas that may be affected and tips to prevent a negative impact on your life.

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1. Being in the Present Moment

Life consists of what is directly in front of us.  We call this “now”.  This is the unique and precious present moment that we are given.  Using technology consistently throughout our daily lives often causes us to miss the miracle of the moment.  We don’t embrace the sky, flowers, or any of the beauty that exists in nature.  We may not even embrace the road ahead of us if we are texting and driving.  We are often caught up in whatever is going on in our email, text, or the eighteen social media feeds.  These moments make up our lives and we need to be present for them as much as possible.  Technology often takes this away from us.  I suggest putting down your device throughout the day and focusing on the present moment and its infinite beauty. Take a walk without your phone and experience nature and the important moments going on in your life outside of the online world.  Practicing mindfulness and being completely in the moment will add immensely to your life and you will desire to experience it much more.

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2. Technological Anxiety

Technology has created a much bigger world with unlimited access to knowledge, shopping, blogging, social activities, and up-to-the-minute communication with anybody in the universe.  This has created anxiety and obsessions over the huge world opened up on the web.  Our friends, bosses, coworkers, and family can be in touch with us in a split second.  Consequently we are always anxious about who needs us, what they need, and so on.  Always watching and checking our devices creates a state of constant anxiety that is detrimental to our physical and mental health.  The constant connection and unlimited choices and options is creating a lot of unnecessary anxiety and obsession.  We need to relax and that means relax without a relaxation app!  Make time to disconnect from the frantic world created by technology and connect to the real world.  Your life may revolve around technology but that world is not your life.  Take time throughout the day and in the evening to disconnect and try some activities that don’t require you to be plugged in.

3. Human Contact

Technology has made it possible to communicate with absolutely everyone without having any direct contact with them whatsoever.  Do people even talk face to face anymore?  Do we write letters or visit people at their houses?  We are social beings and we need real contact with each other- not just texting, tweeting, or “liking” their posts on Facebook.  Connect with human beings without your phone in your hand and you will feel the difference.  Hug someone you love and make time for direct physical contact.  Schedule a consistent time to get together with family and those you love for dinner and make it a point for everyone to turn off their phones and interact with each other.  It may be difficult at first but the results will be beneficial to you and those you love.

It may be time to regress to our pre-online society in some aspects of our lives.  We may have disconnected from human life a bit too much and begun living in the iCloud more than is necessary.  The fact is that we are no happier than we were before all of this technological advance.  I am certainly not saying to give up technology because it definitely has great benefits.  However just like anything else it has some consequences when we go to the extreme.  Simply be mindful and aware of how much you are relying on technology and if it is interfering with the three important aspects of your life that were discussed.  Change is made a little at a time, so practice stepping away from technology a little at a time.  You will be amazed at how much more enjoyable and calm your daily life can be without a device glued to you!

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More by this author

Richard Singer

Author/Psychotherapist

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

There are several perspectives on the term systems thinking. The discipline goes beyond a collection of tools and techniques. A lot of individuals are fascinated by tools like brainstorming tools, structural thinking tools, dynamic thinking tools, as well as computer-based tools. They believe the system thinking tools can make them smarter and productive. However, it goes beyond that as systems thinking is more strategic and sensitive to the environment we find ourselves.

So what is systems thinking and why is it good for you?

What Is Systems Thinking?

Systems thinking is a diagnostic tool that can help you to assess problems before taking action. It helps you to ask questions before arriving at conclusions. It prevents you from making an assumption, which is the lowest level of knowledge.

A systems thinker is curious, compassionate, and courageous. The systems thinking approach incorporates the act of seeing the big picture instead of seeing in parts. It recognizes that we are connected, and there are diverse ways to solve a problem.

Characteristics of Systems Thinking

Systems thinking can help you in analyzing the connections between subsystems and understanding their potentials to make smarter decisions.

In a soccer team, the elements are the coach, players, the field, and a ball. The interrelationships are strategies, communications among players, and game rules. The goal is to win, have fun and exercise. We all belong to several systems and subsystems.

Some characteristics of systems thinking include:

  • Issue is important
  • The issue is familiar with well-known patterns
  • Attempts have been made to resolve the issue.

Given these characteristics, systems thinking goes beyond an operational tool; it is a strategic approach and a philosophy.

How to Use Systems Thinking

Here’re 3 ways you can use systems thinking:

1. Understand How the System Works and Use Feedback Points

The first task is to know what system is all about and identify the leverage points or feedbacks that influence its functioning. This is what will help in adjusting the system.

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If you want the system to be productive, enhance the feedback points. If you want it to be less productive, exhaust the same points.

A good example is that of a bathtub. The leverage points are the faucet and the drain. If you forget to close the drain, having turned on the water, the water will never stop flowing, and the tub will never overflow.

If you want more water, close the drain while you turn the water. If otherwise, turn the faucet off and open the drain. You can apply this to your personal development.

Once you discover the feedback points in your life, find your leverage or feedback points, then enhance those points. If you want to be fit, get a trainer, find a mentor, or eat healthy foods.

2. Discover the Patterns, Structure, and Events

Trends and patterns could be compared to clues for a crossword puzzle. As you aspire to enhance the system, trends and patterns offer you hints and cause to shift your paradigm. Usually, they can direct you to unusual and unexpected aspects, to ideas, people, or places you have never thought about.

Smart people watch out for trends and patterns so they can be conversant with changes.

You can view the world from 3 different perspectives:

i. The Event Perspective

If you consider the world from an event perspective, the best you can do is to be smarter is ‘react’. You tend to be smarter by reacting quickly, becoming more lighter on your feet, and flexible as you advance through life.

So how do you view the world from an event perspective? You ask a question like, ‘What happened?’.

There is the possibility of becoming more aware and seeing more at this level. An excellent technique to achieve this is by telling a story to a group. If you can see beyond each event, see beyond patterns and trends, you will be empowered to anticipate, predict, and plan.

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ii. Pattern Perspective

To view the world from a pattern perspective, you need to ask, ‘What has been happening?’

It is most times difficult to see the actual size of an iceberg (underlying structures that are the causes of events). The waterline dissects what’s visible from what’s not visible.

A systems thinker does not assume from what’s visible only; he or she seeks to know what has been happening.

Take a look at this video to understand more about the Iceberg Theory:

 

iii. The Structure Perspective

To view the world from a structure perspective, you need to ask, ‘what is causing issues?’ The answers will be the factors and forces responsible.

If you find yourself in a traffic jam, you don’t blame the next driver as a smart person; you could ask, ‘what’s been causing the traffic jam?

The usual answers could be a decaying road surface, careless driver, or high speed, but that would be the same things identified as trends. What makes the structure perspective different from others.

The structure is what propels your energy. It is what affects happenings. A systems thinkers make deductions based on internal structures to arrive at a conclusion

3. People Problems vs System Problems

Several issues ranging from security breaches, product flaws, poverty, to transportation inefficiencies are systemic.

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Even when you misbehave, there is usually an internal system to blame.

If you are not productive in your business, it may not be caused by you. There may be a system that you need to enhance.

Do you remember our feedback points? As soon as you assess the system, you can focus on people. Is a new hire causing lag in the packaging process? Is poor communication affecting the team’s performance? Reallocating job roles may be a perfect leverage point.

In the traffic jam example, there could be a system-based solution such as installing traffic lights and subsequently enforcing traffic laws in the area to penalize reckless drivers.

How to Foster Learning with Systems Thinking

Systems thinking helps you to appreciate the interrelationships of people, organizations, policies, decisions, ideas, and relationships.

Peter M Senge propounded five disciplines that foster learning in your DNA- whether you are leading an organization, starting a venture, or working as a freelancer.[1]

1. Gain Mastery

You can take online courses, attend conferences, read blog articles and books, listen to podcasts, converse with leaders within and beyond your industry, watch documentaries, learn from your team, and stretch yourself by improving your skills.

2. Discover Your Assumptions and Biases

There was this parable of four blind men who made different assumptions about an elephant. Their assumptions and biases hinder them from understanding how the animal looks like.

Biases can rob you of innovation and prevent you from experiencing personal growth. To become aware of your biases, you have to take an internal trip and engage breakthrough thinking.

3. Establish Your Vision

Systems grind to a halt when the goal or mission is not defined. You will not have the motivation to complete the online course if you don’t know why you subscribe in the first place.

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Is it for career advancement? To up your game or to gain general knowledge? Vision inspires you.

4. Learn in Groups

There is power in shared learning. There is a solidification of understanding when you learn in a group. You can have the lessons etched in your long term memory.

For instance, you can join learning groups where information is shared weekly.

5. Think in Systems

Systems thinking is about lifelong learning and improvement. It has also been linked to the Iceberg principle, which affirms that visible events are insignificant compared to what’s visible. There’s more ice below the waterline than what you can see with your physical eyes.

Anytime you are battling with a challenge, think in systems. Understand the details of the issue. Discover your leverage points. Assess, adapt, and keep improving your models.

After all. If you meet a lion in the wild, you need to understand what you are facing.

Final Thoughts

You can foster systems thinking by modeling your own environment. Participate in training, watch TED Talks, and create time to connect with others.

Also, practice critical thinking instead of making assumptions before you make a decision. The more you think systems, the more you will become smarter and productive in every aspect of your life.

More to Help You Think Smarter

Featured photo credit: Olav Ahrens Røtne via unsplash.com

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