Communicating In Our Fast-paced World: How to Find Balance

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It’s amazing how quickly the world around us has changed as we progressively move forward in the age of information. Technology has brought many great advancements, but at the same time begs the most basic question: Are we moving further away from the ability to truly connect and communicate with those around us?

Look around you: every day you can bear witness to the impact that smartphones and social media are having on our society. Just this morning, dropping my son off at school, I saw several parents, teachers and children on their phones. How did we survive when we only had land lines? I believe it’s safe to say that a great many of us are having an intimate affair with our phones, utilizing them to “hide” from life and ourselves.

What’s the answer to keeping up with technology without losing yourself along the way?

I strongly believe that you have to keep yourself accountable, making sure that you are not falling prey to the pitfalls of advanced technology. This is extremely important as we already multi-task way too much. And things are only moving faster, so it’s important to find new and safe ways to strengthen our ability to communicate and connect with others.

It’s time to take your own “communication pulse.”

Do you spend more then an hour a day on any social media platform? Are you constantly in a reactive state, which prevents you from listening to others? Do you look at your phone when you are in a conversation with another? Do you answer calls at the dinner table or other valuable family moments? Do you find yourself choosing to text instead of having a conversation? Are you having conversations over text or email that should be done in person? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have an imbalance.

As much as I appreciate modern technology, it’s changed our ability to communicate on many levels. Communication is becoming a lost art and it’s failing miserably at the hands of our children. Remember when you couldn’t be contacted every moment of the day and there were moments of the day you just got lost in work or play? Remember when you didn’t have to meet an expectation by answering someone immediately? Many of the modern day smartphone users feel compelled to respond right away to a text or email and more often then not this disrupts the flow of your day. Additionally, with less time to process our thoughts, our responses become more of a reaction instead of a conversation.

How does social media contribute to this imbalance?

Social media has many advantages, but there are plenty of drawbacks as well. I believe that many people in our world use Facebook and Twitter as a hiding space. Sitting behind the screen of a computer or phone gives people the courage to say what they want without a filter or compassion. Our emotional intelligence is getting lost in translation and we are slowly losing the ability to be honest with each other and work through difficult conversations; to take a moment and sit with a situation, even when it feels uncomfortable, and move toward communication to solve the problem.

I can’t tell you how many Facebook debates I skip over daily, wondering whether that conversation would be happening if it was in person. The usual answer? No, it wouldn’t, because you would have the connectivity factor and the ability to read body language, which would help ease a conversation that may get heavy.

Where’s the real problem?

The real problem is two-fold. We are losing our ability to communicate with honesty and kindness. Second, if we don’t have the skill to communicate in truth, whether it be a debate or difficult conversation, then how do we expect our children to be able to communicate? This is a mounting concern, as our future generations can text faster then they can talk.

What’s the solution?

Start with awareness. How much time are you on social media, and how much are you on your phone? The amount may shock you, but conscious awareness is the first step to solving our communication problem. Next, come up for air; realize that you do not have to respond immediately to anyone by text or email. Pause, and respond when the time is right for you. Then dig a little deeper: how many times during the day are you derailed because you’re interrupted by a text or email? How much time does each interruption take from your day?

How do we move forward?

Set some family phone rules. Start with some simple limitations, such as only using Facebook on the weekend or certain times throughout the day. Respond to all texts or emails periodically through out the day (three times, say). Oh, and please stop inviting people to play Farmville. 😉

Ask that no phones be on the dinner table or when you are out to eat. Spend time talking and enjoying each other; it goes a long way. Save difficult conversations for person-to-person visits and utilize texts for quick responses, not conversations.

Enjoying the gifts that come with technology is important, but moving forward into a new age with balance is even more important.



10 Signs That You're a Free Spirit

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When we think of the term, “free spirit,” we imagine a person who steers their own course in life, unencumbered by common burdens or concerns. Some look at those who identify as free spirits as being irresponsible or childish, though this mindset offers lessons to inform us how we can live life on our own terms. 

If you’re someone who considers yourself an independent thinker or doer, who pushes against society’s envelope and is deeply committed to finding your own path, you may be a free spirit. Are you curious as to whether the free spirit path is for you?

Ten Signs You’re A Real Free Spirit

If you identify with any of these signs, chances are you have a free spirit waiting to be let loose into the world! 

1. You’re Independent-Minded

Independent people thrive on listening to their own voices, regardless of the situation or circumstance. This key personality trait of the free spirit is a common one in innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative artists, as an independent streak also relies on a strong foundation and belief in oneself.

Are you the person in the room who always finds a new way of looking at things? Free spirits defy expectations and will always see the unexpected in equally unlikely ways. These kinds of thinkers can be great assets on a creative team, as they will always find a new way to look at an idea. Free spirits are also incredible advocates for innovation, as they are not afraid to stand up and for their ideas, no matter how much it veers from the rest of the crowd.

2. Fear Doesn’t Stop You

Dale Carnegie said, “Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” Free spirits feel fear, but they don’t allow that feeling to be something that stops them. Instead, a free spirit will work through the fear and let it serve as a motivating factor. In fact, most free spirits will tell you that any success is not worth having unless it’s achieved with a healthy dose of moving through fear.

3. You Have a Strong Spine.

While it can be said that free spirits go with the flow of life, they accomplish it with a healthy and strong sense of self. This translates into living with intention and purpose and one that is not defined by anyone else. A free spirit walks the talk and in many cases, creates the language that makes up the talk.

4. Free From Attachment

To live as a free spirit, one has to be willing to let go, or walk away from the things that might weigh others down such as conventional relationships, careers, and other traditional trappings of modern life.

You might find a free spirit selling their material goods and living in a van, or not staying tethered to one place for very long. Or perhaps a free spirit may choose to live simply with a commitment to not participating in consumerism. Minimalism is often a choice of free spirits as this lifestyle embodies freedom from many of the things that weigh us down. Free spirits enjoy their own company and thrive on solo time, and putting themselves first.

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