A Day Without My Phone: A Transformative Experience
Today, I forgot to take my cell phone in the morning. And what happened is nothing short of a transformative experience.
I woke up, got fresh, boiled water, made coffee with organic coconut oil, ate a banana and left for the work. Usually, my fiance and I drive to work together as we have only one car. I dropped her to her office.
Five minutes into the drive I was searching for my mobile. I wanted to connect my phone to my car so we could discuss one of the intriguing podcasts that I heard a couple of days ago. Well, no podcast to listen to and discuss about, we talked about life in general, the algorithm for traffic calculation and prediction, and the lifestyle choices that we have made (including the decision to travel together in the morning and use the commute time as time spent together).
On most days, we usually just talk while driving but with our cell phones and hundred of pressing issues, we end up talking about our businesses and many projects that we run together: The Art of Travel, The Naked Soul, Fit Couple Goals, and so on…
But, today was different. I was without my phone and her phone was in her bag. There was no pressure for making an Instagram post or to send a snap on Snapchat. Today was about just the two of us. Her and me. It was wonderful.
I dropped her and with no cellphone in the car, I had nothing to choose from: music, audio books, podcasts. No shuffling, no selection decision gridlock, no time waste. Just, me and the car. Accelerator, looking into the mirrors and driving forward.
I knew there were no phone calls coming this morning. It was the road in front of me and countless billboards and interesting advertisements.
I was looking at the road, the cars around me, the people on phone driving, people texting and driving, people so absorbed in their world that they looked more drones and zombie-like than humans. I realized, I used to be one of these creatures. Unfortunately.
Focus is great and hustle is important but we should seek a balance where we don’t skip on living life.
Lesson #1. Wow. Powerful. And it was not even 9 am. (I knew by now that this is going to be an interesting day.)
I reached my office earlier than my usual time. I got to my desk and boom! again, a feeling of relief. I have no phone and therefore no pressure of checking emails or my social media notifications. This meant, no distractions.
I directly got onto the work at hand while proudly sipping bullet coffee just to celebrate this moment — my existence in this pure now — in its completeness.
Did I know, just having the cell phone with me (whether I look at it or not) was eating up my brain resources and mental focus? Just having the phone with me was making me scattered, all over, making me less human and incomplete. What a shame!
I got done with all my work in half the time and it was already noon. I drove to Qdoba to grab lunch and there I was in this queue as the only human being without a cellphone in his hand. I was standing there with myself. I was enjoying this inner acknowledgment of my existence, that I was present.
I mattered to me and I was living. I was a living creature with a capacity to think and imagine. I was content. I was happier without my phone. The sensation I was feeling was new to me and I liked it.
I got my order and sat in a corner. I ate my lunch without my phone and the food tasted better. Anyways, it was just my food in front of me. No friends or colleagues to talk to, no newspaper to look at, no cell phone to distract me with the endless gossips from the world.
I finished lunch in 6 minutes which felt like 10 minutes long. Earlier, it used to take me a good 15 minutes (sometimes even longer) to finish a small chicken rice bowl.
Wow, I just saved 9 minutes of my lunch time. Now, I can go out and enjoy the warm sunlight a little longer.
I sat in my car in the sun. It felt so good that I wanted to take a nap. But it was time to drive back to work.
I arrived at my client’s site and watched a wild goose family crossing the parking lot in their slo-mo fashion. It was fascinating. My hands went for my phone in my pocket. Oops, no phone. This meant I could not make a video of these geese. I had to savor the moment with just my eyes. This was a heartfelt connection.
It was good to watch these birds and to observe them deeply without the distraction of making a video.
I got back to my room. I did some more work and took a short break at 3 pm.
I said to myself, “wow, look at the sky.” A fleet of private jets coming to Boston. Where is my phone? Sure, this would have been a cool video for Facebook.
Wait, what!? A cool video for social media. Since when did I dedicate my life to serving people’s insatiable thirst for meaningless entertainment? Am I here on this earth for others or to live deeply? How much time do I have? How much time am I wasting?
Instead, why not call Mom or my family or a friend whom I have not spoken to in ages. Wait, shoot, I don’t have my phone. I can’t call. But, that’s fine, let me shoot them an email. 🙂
I wrote a few emails to folks I have not connected in 6 months or longer. It felt good just remembering them and thinking about them. As I wrote the emails, I could hear myself talking to them and I could visualize their faces in my mind’s eye. It was good, way better than an awkward sudden phone call which most likely would have ended up in a voicemail.
Now, next time I can pick up the phone and call one of them. The best gift we can give others is the gift of our presence. I was giving myself to other people and there is no other high than the feeling you get from “giving”.
It was 4:30 pm. Time to wrap up the work day and go home.
I left office at 4:30 pm and again free from any expectation of an incoming call, I was sitting comfortably in my car. I was driving smoothly, observing people going about their daily lives.
I could see the river of cars on the highway. Everyone in this river of cars were sacrificing their little precious time that they have on this earth in some way or form. Whether through cellphones or social media or other worries or by not resolving the disharmony at their work or home.
Sure, life is out of balance for most of these folks, but is there anything that they can do to improve their life?
Yes. There is. I discovered it for myself today. Leave your cellphone at home. You don’t have to go extreme, but hey, why not give it a shot. For one day. See for yourself.
If you want to try this experiment then leave your cell phone at home at least a day each week. Make those days about “YOU!”
You matter. Your time matters and your life and experiences matter.
Live those days deeply with yourself. Take advantage of such moments to look inside, to search within. You may get surprised by the powers and wisdom you’ll find within your own heart.
The other thing I experience while driving back home was the time with myself thinking about life was actually fulfilling and quite deep. I enjoyed my commute just thinking, pondering, entertaining one thought after another. And occasionally dwelling on a good thought and thinking deeply about it. It was a good ride to home.
(Fast forward, one month)
It’s been a month since I accidentally did this experiment. Today, I want to tell you that I have been continuing this practice (no cell phone for a day) each week. In return, my creativity, my focus, my insights, my patience — everything has improved significantly. My anxiety level has reduced and I am enjoying life at a much deeper level.
Now, I want to take this experiment to a whole new level.
Living Without Your Cellphone for 7 Days straight!
Do you want to join me? Let me know in the comments below!