The Dalai Lama, having had a life of reflection, comes up with some fairly wise quotes. One of them is:
“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.”
It helps to have that reflective time, but as you well know in today’s day and age, that reflective time is shrinking. We used to have reflective time while waiting in line, traveling home from work, waiting for the airplane to board, waiting for the fish to bite, or even taking our private time in the bathroom.
But now there’s always something to fill our time, any chance we get where there’s a space of waiting, we whip out our digital devices and check.
Even if we read a wise quote from someone like the Dalai Lama, odds are another notification is quick to follow so the process of self-reflection doesn’t last very long. In the past we wrote letters to one another where we had to take time and reflect or even when we read the letters we would stop and reflect on them. Nowadays with the quick texts, chats, and emails we hardly have time for the same reflection. This is the argument of Sherry Turkle, professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. She is also author of Alone Together.
However, in terms of reflection, we have to look at the flipside of technology too. I recently found a pretty cool simple app called grateful360 that prompts me every day to just hit reply on my email to reflect and send them a few things I’m grateful for. At the end of the week they send it back to me so I can see what I’ve said. That is a moment of reflection I experience.
What about online journaling and the proliferation of blogs that are inspiring people to reflect on their thoughts and ideas and spread them out to others. Isn’t this a source of reflection?
But Turkle is pointing to something important. She says she is optimistic about our future with technology, she’s just pointing out the danger signs. The solutions she provides have to do with putting technology down so we can connect with one another.
Let’s take this a step further. What about the ways technology helps us deepen our ability to reflect, connect with one another through more than a status update, and helps us grow into even better human beings? It’s too obvious to say let’s create sacred “technology free” space. It’s also important to investigate the feeling of restlessness that arises when we’re alone or waiting so we don’t always feel overconnected. These are from other blog posts that we all need to get better at experimenting with, but that’s not the best answer.
The best answer will have something to do with finding a more optimal relationship with technology so it enhances reflection, deeper connection, well-being and peace for ourselves and the world.
We’re all in this great big technology experiment, but if you do have any thoughts on this as we’re all in it together, please do share as your interactions create a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Woman with a smartphone photo available from Shutterstock