A month ago, I returned from the South Pacific, where I spent the bulk of my time in Vanuatu. I’ve learned that most have never heard of Vanuatu (unless they watched that season of Survivor!), so I’ll tell you that it’s a country of about 83 islands and is a two-hour flight west of Fiji. As for me, I learned of Vanuatu two years ago when a friend joined the Peace Corps there. I went to visit her.
I spent five days living with my friend on the island of Paama, which is less than 15 square miles, has no running water or electricity (a few generators?), and only one truck among its 2,000 residents. They pick most of what they eat and cook over a fire. This is very basic living.
Many have cell phones (no landlines on Paama), but there are no “data plans” so they have the convenience without getting completely sucked in.
What truly fascinated me was that, despite not having the modern-day conveniences that most of us can’t imagine living without, they are, well…happy. They’re the most generous, playful, caring and connected people. They’re in touch with nature, engaged with each other and their belongings don’t rule their lives.
I’ll tell you that being cut-off from social media and email for five whole days was incredible. Time appeared to slow down, way down. I was 100% present and connected with the people and my surroundings and was able to fully experience this rare opportunity. A true vacation. It. Was. Amazing!
And, now that I’m home, time is whipping by and I’m attached to my phone again. Which got me thinking…
Now, I won’t suggest turning off your utilities. However, I would like to challenge you (& myself!) to practice disconnecting from your smart phone in the evenings, every Saturday, for a whole week, whatever you think is right. Sure, keep the ringer on you so don’t miss calls, but leave all the other apps alone.
Enjoy entire meals without looking at it. Look straight ahead instead of cranking your neck down (you know what I’m talking about!) Get reconnected with nature, with your kids, with your friends (in person!) People watch! Meditate, journal… Do whatever you have been thinking about doing for the longest time, but haven’t because you thought you didn’t have time.
Practice this for the next month. Pay attention to how you feel and how much more you get done. Notice how present you are. Maybe you'll even make this your new habit! So, what do you think? Are you up for the challenge?
And, hey. If we’d been looking down at our phones during our picnic day in Paama, then we likely would’ve missed the dolphins swimming by that really pushed that picture perfect day off the charts! What could you be missing? Enjoy!