The rise of technology in our everyday lives comes at a cost. Not only are we more connected than ever, we are also more depressed and dissatisfied with our lives than ever. Some people even go to the extreme of cutting technology from their lives entirely, believing they were happier without. In her book, The Future of Happiness Amy Blankson assures that we can learn how to live with modern technology, not escape from it, and offers five strategies to help us do so.
Our devices have become thousand-dollar distraction machines, forever pinging and blipping and pulling us out of our present world. We can regain this focus with practice. First, however, we must actively choose to do so, by reminding ourselves what really matters to us. We can then enact purposeful solutions to keep our distractions to a minimum. Silencing unnecessary notifications and setting our phones out of sight while working are both effective examples.
We are in the middle of a digital renaissance, Blankson tells us, and it’s easier to study our own thoughts, behaviors, and changes than ever before as a result. Using technology to track the parts of us that matter most offers us a chance to understand ourselves better. With that data, we can then make informed, targeted decisions about our futures.
Train Your Brain
First involves recognizing that we can actively make ourselves happier! Recent advances in positive psychology suggest that the human brain can be trained to improve happiness and productivity, using the S.T.A.G.E method: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give, and Empathize. This training is even easier with technology; there are hundreds of apps, websites, and other technological resources that can help in all five areas.
Building a Habitat for Happiness
Blankson tackles our homes in strategy four. She cites Marie Kondo’s strategies of decluttering physical space by keeping what “sparks joy” in our lives and discarding everything else. This strategy works just as well for our digital spaces. By removing the things that bring us misery, we leave more room for what brings us joy.
Finally, strategy five is to innovate consciously. The future of happiness is directly influenced by how we choose to interact with technology today. Every choice we make—from online purchases to Facebook comments—sends messages to innovators and their investors. If we want a future where technology is a powerful force for good in our lives, we need to start treating it that way. We also need to ensure that our actions reflect our beliefs.
Modern technology is not our enemy. If anything, the enemy is us; how we use our devices is a choice only we can make. If we want to use technology to make our lives easier, happier, and more productive, we must decide that for ourselves and actively make our tech work for us.