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Mindful : June 2019
WEDNESDAY Start Paying Attention The next step is to pay attention to how and when you use your phone, and how you feel when you do so. Over the next 24 hours, try to notice: • Situations in which you nearly always find yourself using your phone. (For example, wait- ing in line, in the elevator, in the car.) • How your posture changes when using your phone. (Is your back hunching? Do your shoul- ders tighten up?) • Your emotional state right before you reach for your phone. • Your emotional state right after you use your phone. (Do you feel better? Worse? Did your phone satisfy whatever emotional need caused you to reach for it?) • How and how often your phone grabs your attention (via notifications, texts, and the like). • How you feel while you are using your phone— as well as how you feel when you realize that you don’t have your phone. • Moments—either on or off your phone—when you feel some combination of engaged, ener- gized, joyful, effective, and purposeful. When that happens, notice what you were doing, whom you were with, and whether your phone was involved. Shift Your Mindset Here’s an interesting psy- chological trick for you: Researchers have found that the vocabular y you use to describe a new habit has a strong effect on the likelihood that you’ll stick with it. To be specific, saying that you “do” or “don’t” do something— framing an action as part of your identity—is much more effective than saying that you “have to” or “can’t” do something. So when you feel the urge to open or reinstall one of the apps, don’t try to resist it by saying that you “can’t” or aren’t “allowed” to do so. Instead, simply describe your current reality: “I do not keep social media apps on my phone.” This simple shift can make a surprising difference. • How and when other people use their phones— and how it makes you feel. Lastly, I’d like you to choose several moments in your day when you seem to pick up your phone the most often, and see if you can identify a con- sistent trigger that makes you repeat this habit. For example, maybe you check your phone first thing in the morning because you’re anxious. Or maybe it’s just because it’s on your bedside table. Maybe you check your phone in the eleva- tor because everyone else is also checking their phone. Maybe you check it at work because you’re bored with whatever you’re supposed to be doing. We’re not trying to put a judgment on any of these triggers; we’re just trying to become aware of them so that we can begin to identify patterns. Personally, I’ve noticed that while it can initially be pleasant, I hardly ever feel better after I use my phone—an observation that has helped me catch myself when I’m about to pick it up out of habit. → m Subscriber Extra: A Seven-Minute Mindful Phone Practice Psychologist Chris Willard guides you through an awareness meditation on the emo- tions and body sensations that arise when you use your phone. mindful.org/ phonepractice June 2019 mindful 69