We’ve created a monster.
A world full of noise and distraction is at our fingertips. We are so busy watching other peoples’ lives on our screens we’ve forgotten to be present in our own. Just when you think you’re in the zone, being effective - PING, DING, BUZZ - notifications tell you, “look over here, I’ve got something shiny!”
Typically, these distractions remind us of someone else’s awards, trophies, and generally “perfect” life….or at least the highlight reel they want you to see that seems to be perfect. Those highlight reels can leave us wondering why our lives aren’t the same. Countless studies have proven depression can be linked to the amount of time an individual spends on social media. When we go into the black hole of comparison, we allow our joy to be stolen.
There are two major flaws associated with my generation (somewhere between Millennial and Gen X): we were raised to believe we could be anything we wanted to be and we were praised and awarded on a regular basis. This has left some of us trying to be everything to everyone and operating under the false belief that we can do it all. It seems we are using social media to prove that we are making it happen, but in reality, we are in a constant state of burnout, with full calendars and the inability to say NO. Instead of praise and trophies, we’ve become addicted to our “love of Likes.” We are seeking approval from our “friends” on social media. Perhaps this is why it seems like everyone is trying to stand out and make a name for themselves via Facebook and LinkedIn.
Numerous times, I’ve found myself feeling like I’m not enough. I’m not doing enough, winning enough, not extraordinary enough. After making a conscious effort to remove the apps, news feeds, notifications and the distractions from my life, I came to terms with the fact that there is honor in the ordinary. Even better, there’s JOY in the ordinary!
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Distractions keep us from living with intention and purpose. It takes courage to live on purpose for a purpose and we are not going to find that courage on Facebook or LinkedIn.
- How you start your morning sets the intention for the rest of your day. If you start it by looking at what you missed in the world while you slept, you’ll be focused on that for the rest of the day. If you start it with gratitude, time for reflection and self development, you’re more likely to be effective and make an impact.
- You do you. If you want to focus on other people, focus on how you can serve them. Significance comes through service.
- Be authentic. We need less highlight reel and more “the struggle is real.” Let down your guard. You never know when someone is going through a problem and they need to hear someone else has been there too. (In the spirit of authenticity, I’ll admit I’m guilty of highlight reeling. For example, on a recent visit to Bald Head Island, my Instagram followers would have thought my 6 year old and I had an amazing day riding our bikes around the island. What they didn’t see was an epic meltdown, a refusal to ride up the hills, and a man passing by me saying, “Uh, ma’am, your son seems to be having some problems with his bike.” I conveniently left that out of my post. Oops.)
- Everything in moderation. I’ve found that social media cleanses are like eating clean. Most of the time you’re eating kale and cauliflower, but sometimes you find yourself in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Eating clean and avoiding social media both sound great in theory, but are not always realistic. Just try to do better tomorrow.
What’s the best way to protect your joy? Stop trying to be everything to everyone. Stop trying to do it all. Instead, find the one thing you do best and flex that muscle! Find out who you are, what you were put on this earth to do, and which values and beliefs will guide you every day. Develop the courage required to know and live your purpose and to just be yourself. If your purpose is behind the scenes and not in the spotlight, that’s ok! Don’t be distracted by ALL THE THINGS. Just be strong, flex your muscle, and do the work.