5 Thoughts on Leading a Fulfilling Life that Doesn’t Involve an iPhone, iPad, iPod, iBook or iAnything.

Steve Job’s recent passing really got me thinking – for all his fame, fortune and accolades, was he a happy guy?  He created the platform(s) that spawned the creation of apps for pretty much everything in life – communicating with friends, staying in the loop with the latest news and trends, watching live television, avoiding traffic jams, sharing photos with your online followers – the list is endless and growing exponentially. All of these things are supposed to be making our lives better and the things we do easier, allowing us to be happier and enjoy life more.

Was the guy who enabled all this happy himself? Despite all these tools, why are more and more people struggling to stay engaged in their daily lives, complaining about how difficult the times are, how bad the job market is, how things aren’t working out like they had hoped? All the while spending days on end playing Angry Birds on their iPhone?

I’m not sure if Steve Jobs was a happy guy or not, but I’m pretty sure true happiness doesn’t come from continually staying connected, plugged into, and chained (usually figuratively, sometimes literally) to the devices and platforms he created.

I’m a firm believer that no “i” is required for a happy ME – here’s 5 thoughts on getting some happy in your life that doesn’t involve an iPhone, iPod, iPad, iBook or iAnything else:


1. Disconnect.

Pull the plug on your computer and phone. Go for the television while you’re at it.  This one is especially ironic because as a designer my entire career has depended upon connection via my computer. Designing this or that, researching brands, writing proposals, emailing clients. My entire career fits on a 500GB external hard drive…a mildly depressing thought.

So why would I tell anyone to switch off the connection that is our lifeblood, our livelihood, our connection with the world? Because we can only spend so much of our day staring at a screen (no matter the size or shape) before our brains turn to mush, our bodies follow suite, and our souls start aching for something real. Walking away from the screen is the first step.


2. Go Outside.  

But…I’m waiting on this urgent email, and plus I don’t know if my Amazon order has shipped yet, and I ‘m chatting with someone who I haven’t spoke with in…forever. It’s okay. Flee. Leave it all behind and get outside your home or office. Not mentally. I mean physically – increasingly strange concept in these digital days (daze?).

Actually lift your butt off whatever you are sitting on, and walk out the door and keep walking until when you look up, you see sky. Take in the sights and sounds around you, enjoy a few big breaths of fresh air, feel the warm sun (or cold wind, or wet rain). Embrace the fact that, for this moment, you cannot be bothered by that urgent email, celebrity tweet or must have Groupon offer.


3. Do Something Real.

Sorry – browsing the red tag items at Target, picking up groceries for tomorrow’s casserole, or taking your car to Jiffy Lube for that oil change doesn’t count. I’m talking about something that is FREE and something that requires you to MOVE. If you only have a ten minute break, go for a leisurely walk down whatever street you happen to be on right now. Use every minute of free time at your disposal to get real, in real time, in the real world.

Don’t go back inside and iReconnect until you have to. I guarantee your body and mind will thank you for the break, however short.  Do it every day. As a matter of fact, I’m going to practice what I preach…be back in ten.


4. Start Exploring. 

Once you’ve gotten outside and comfortable with being unplugged from your digital life for a bit, it’s time to explore your boundaries. Take a stroll or pedal yourself to somewhere that you haven’t been before and see where it leads. Find a park, hiking trail, lake, river, mountain, beach, or forest near your home or office. Chances are, unless you live on the moon, one of those is close by. Make yourself unavailable for a few hours and go see what these places are all about.

When you’re exploring someplace new that doesn’t involve a high score, you’ll find that your mind and body are alert and your soul is invigorated. Stresses of the day will fade.  Push your boundaries and see how much you can do with the “me” time you’ve made for yourself. Hike up a small hill, or big mountain. Get yourself to the beach and put your feet in the sand. Take a weekend road trip to someplace new. It doesn’t matter what, or where, or for how long, it just matters that you do some real world exploring, and that you get in the habit of doing it often.


5. Work on Yourself, not Your LinkedIn Profile.

You are, after all, the center of your reality. The more good you can do for yourself and your body, the more you’ll get back (and the longer you’ll be around to pad that online profile). I’m no personal trainer, and I’m certainly not a nutritionalist, but I have learned that there is a very real, very direct correlation between treating my body well and being happy.

That feeling we’ve all had after spending all weekend on the couch gorging on crap food and candy? It’s the exact opposite of the one you get leaving the gym, getting home after a long run, pulling up after a great bike ride, or standing at the summit after a challenging hike. That feeling – that’s what I’m talking about.

The more we can do to leave our bodies and minds feeling healthy and invigorated, the happier we’re going to be. I think it’s really that simple…and no, its NOT coming soon to the App Store.