Keep Technology from Disrupting Happiness

The following contains excerpts from Kira M. Newman, How to Keep Technology from Disrupting Your Happiness, Greater Good Berkeley, (Apr 13, 2017).

Technology can bring happiness, but if we are not careful, it can also bring anxiety, stress, and frustration. Amy Blankson, author of the book, The Future of Happiness: 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being in the Digital Era, has deemed our back-and-forth emotions with technology as an “attitude problem”. She says, “As tech advances and we accept these changes without pause, I worry that maybe our happiness is getting left behind, moving further down the priority list.”

To help get our happiness back regarding technology, Blankson argues that we should pause and become more self-aware. We should set intentional goals for our technological interactions. “That way, we’ll cultivate more connection and productivity—and less stress and loneliness—in our digital lives.”

The average American turns their phone on 46 times per day, and only sometimes during those times are we using it for something useful –such as looking up a restaurant, using Google Maps, or setting an alarm. However, Blankson says, “I encourage you to avoid the road of the tech doomsday-sayers, because I don’t see that it is truly possible for us to eliminate technology and I don’t think we should have to eliminate technology to find happiness.”

For example, many tech users say that email has improved their relationships with their family and friends. Many people have even met someone online and later connected with them in person –some of those people are now married or engaged.

In her book, Blankson gives some tips on how to use technology in ways to avoid stress. She recommends checking email, social media, and news just three times a day. She cites research that suggests that people who check these things less frequently become less stressed and in turn sleep better, experience deeper social connections, and live more meaningful lives.

She also suggests putting down our phones and laptops at certain times and using them at others. For example, Blankson encourages families to share moments of gratitude on Facebook or Instagram, and even recommends some apps to help us become more giving and empathic.

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