If you've ever been to Asia, you'll know that the selfie culture here is on crack.
I know a guy who keeps his phone on a selfie stick the entire day so he doesn't need to reattach it.
If you go to a restaurant, we'll see entire families ignore each other and tap away.
You can't help but look at all this and think "what the hell is going on??".
But there's an inconvenient truth that no newspaper or psychologist would ever bring up.
Smartphones didn't do this to us. Or Facebook or Instagram or whoever invented the selfie stick.
Technology is just a magnifier
The way I see it, technology, like money, is nothing more than a magnifier.
It is neither good nor bad, but magnifies the ability or values of the user:
If you’re kind, money will make you more kind.
If you're kind, technology lets you be kind to more people.
If you're scared, money will make you more scared.
If you're scared, technology will make you scared of more things.
If you're unhappy, money will make you more unhappy.
If you're unhappy, technology will let you take pictures of yourself pretending to be happy and share it with the world.
Let's not forget that this is what we looked like before smartphones:
We're stuck in autopilot
In this picture I don't see the grip of technology or media.
I see people on "autopilot".
That is — people who have given up control of their life to something or someone else.
And for a person who hasn't been exposed to mindfulness, this is the default state.
If there's no separation between external "events" and your internal reaction, the news will govern your opinion, society will set your ambition, and entertainment will take your focus.
I've stopped blaming tech for families not talking to each other at dinner because it's not the root cause. It's a symptom.
The root cause is ignoring mindfulness, which leads to a chronic lack of...
Ownership & responsibility
Only recently have I realised what it really means to take ownership of something.
Boss isn’t giving you something you need? Whose fault is that? Yours. You haven’t educated him enough, communicated clearly enough, or influenced him enough.
Don’t have time to eat real food and exercise? You’ve prioritised other things, you've built negative habits, or you haven't disciplined yourself.
Mindfulness will take you off autopilot but it's then on you to realise that more is under your direct control than you realise.
Yes, there will always be random events, but your reaction and your beliefs are not random — they're choices.
Spend time alone
There was a study that put participants in individual rooms with no decorations and nothing to do. The only thing in the room was an electric shock machine.
What they found was troubling: we would rather electrocute ourselves than do nothing.
Unless you can be alone without feeling lonely, you are dependent on someone or something else to supply happiness.
That's what this dude meant when he said "all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone".
What happens to us if we can't be alone? We get clingy in relationships, we agree to do pointless or harmful work and fill our downtime with addictions like video games.
Neil Strauss in his wonderful new book concludes that "unless you can be alone without feeling lonely, you are not ready for a relationship".
I'd take this a step further and say if you can't be alone without feeling lonely, you're not ready for life.
Nobody will ever say it's your fault
As I wrote this, I wondered why this isn't mainstream news but quickly realised that "it's your own fault" doesn't make for a clickable headline.
Which is a pity because we're stuck in a situation where nothing is our own fault.
We're not supposed to be the ones to blame for our own misfortune or suffering.
It's the system, or insider knowledge, or education. Anything. Just not us.
They won't say it but I can.
Your happiness and your mark on the world is an outcome of your choices.
If you are lucky enough to be born with the freedom and resources to read this sentence, it is your duty to wake up, own your actions, and do something worth doing. Or, as an eloquent friend of mine said recently, "find something to give a fuck about".
If you want a practical guide to finding meaningful work, then I'd love to send you my free eBook which breaks it all down. You can download it here >>