We have all heard that mobile phones and other digital devices are addictive, harmful and that they affect our mental health, but it is only when you experience a situation in which you can’t access these devices for a few hours that you really begin to think about our relationship with them. One such experience happened to me when I had forgotten my phone at home and realized it only when I reached my college. Now if this was about forgetting any other thing like a book or my lunch, I would have easily continued with my day. But since this was my phone, it freaked me out and I started thinking about all the possible situations in which I would need my phone and how I couldn’t live without it even for a few hours. I drove back home to get my phone and reached my college past the morning class hour.
This experience made me think deeply about why I couldn’t go without my phone for a few hours and how this device has become an important part of my daily life. I also wondered, ‘what other things are as important to me as this is?’
All these questions led me to numerous blogs and articles and specifically a book that I read as a team activity called “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport. It spoke about how all these huge tech companies try to get you hooked to these devices with techniques that create in us a dopamine rush, which is a hormone that plays a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior. This is why we tend to check our devices every so often. While the author answered the question of how they are addictive, he also gave solutions to keep them away and control your cravings. As the title of the books says ‘Digital Minimalism’, Cal introduces us to this philosophy or concept of Minimalism.
Minimalism, as an idea is about conscious living. It’s about having a purpose, clarity, and intention to promote the things that we value the most and to remove everything that distracts us from it. It started as an art and design movement in the 1960s and turned into a philosophy of life in the next few decades. This idea made me curious, so I started reading about it and about the people who practice it. People who follow this philosophy are called Minimalists and they let go of most of their belongings which don’t seem to have a purpose or a value to them. Most people have a certain number of clothes in their closet, which are just enough to get them through the week. They try to buy fewer, but more meaningful, things that are more useful or valuable to them. They have a clear perspective on how consumerism is making peoples’ lives empty and meaningless. They use their mobiles and other devices only when it is necessary and choose to go without them most of the time, especially when they are with friends and family. There are a few people I came across while reading about minimalism who are truly living the life of a minimalist and are sharing their experiences of finding peace, happiness, balance, and meaning in their lives. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus are the creators of ‘The Minimalist Podcast’, in which they discuss living a meaningful life with ‘less’. I also came across Matt D’Avella, a filmmaker and YouTuber, who made a beautiful documentary called ‘Minimalism’ which covers every aspect of the philosophy of minimalism. He also makes YouTube videos on self-help and experiments with trending lifestyle concepts. After following these people and going through their content, I now have a clear understanding of all my questions.
I realized that if you are aware of things that truly give you meaning and satisfaction in life, then you will not want to get distracted from them and will be able to avoid all unnecessary objects and people in life, and that is how we can grow as individuals, That is how we learn to take our own decisions, follow our path, choose for ourselves and not try to answer to other people’s expectations.