One month ago I shared a commitment to limit the role of media in my life. I started things off by drawing a very clear line in the sand, with specific activities marked as too indulgent, and others as permissive under the right conditions. It definitely helped to have such clear expectations, though I also tried to leave things open to just following my conscience in each moment’s decision.
Something that I learned from the whole process was the power of affirmative goals, as opposed to negative ones. Stacking upon myself a list of “shalt nots” made it feel like living with a tense grip that was difficult to maintain. On the other hand, making the same commitment, but while using positive verbiage instead of negative, made for a drastically different experience.
For example, saying “I won’t have any more unbounded media-browsing sessions on my phone” felt harder to follow than saying “When I do browse media, I will approach it with a clear intention for where I will go and for how long.” The first approach restricts me with things that I will not do, the second empowers me with things that I will do (live with intentionality).
As a result, I really have felt far less of a slave to my devices for the month of May. Admittedly there was a time where I missed playing games on my phone, so I installed a new one and then started spending way too much time on it, and there were times where I caught myself having to Google every little question that came up in my head when I was supposed to be working…but really my life has been the clearest and freshest it has been in a long while.
I am going to keep up with this commitment, but also start implementing a new one in the month of June.
For this new commitment, I am trying to address a longstanding issue of “there are so many good things that I am supposed to do that I get discouraged and end up not doing any of them at all.”
But not only this, there is another practice of mine that I am going to work on, too. Every couple hours an alarm goes off on my phone, telling me to pause and ground myself. I check-in with how I’m really doing, say a little prayer, and renew my commitments for the day. And that sort of works, but it also tends to become routine and insincere after a while.
So I’m solving these two problems with each other. Every two hours the alarm will still go off, but there is no set ritual for how to ground myself. I will choose what to do in the moment, based entirely on what I feel I need right then.
My hope is to take that overbearing list of things I should be doing, and turn it into a buffet of things to enjoy at my leisure. Am I feeling hungry for some prayer? Or scripture study? Or meditation? Or to review some affirmations? Or to check in on a friend? Or to go on a short walk? Great. Just so long as it feels sincere, and not routine.
Some basic things like prayer and scripture study will still remain as fixtures for the first thing in my morning and the last thing at night, but in between I will try to enjoy giving myself what I need as I need it, and not feel guilty about not doing the things that I didn’t need. I’ll let you know how this went at the start of July.