I recently heard a definition of the word “serenity” as having your mind and your body in the same place.
It’s such a simple concept, but deceptively hard to achieve in these days of digital distraction and overuse.
I certainly struggle with it. I spend the majority of my time hanging out online, watching movies and TV, or reading books, losing myself in storytelling and leaving my (often cranky) body behind.
I bet I’m not alone in that.
In spite of this, I’ve learned that a thriving digital life and states of serenity are NOT incompatible. Digital tools can lead you down a path to serenity, but you must use them intentionally and mindfully.
1. Choose to carve out serenity
As you may have guessed, most of the digital noise in our lives is designed specifically to delight our minds and disconnect from our bodies. In order to bring those two worlds together, you will need to proactively seek out tools that have a different agenda. Things like…
- Meditation apps
- Breathwork apps
- Mental and physical health trackers
- Tools to connect with others (ideally in real time)
- Exercise tools that have a community component
Seek out anything that asks you to be physically and mentally present in the moment, helping you carve out precise windows in your day to check in with both your mind and body.
When you take these breaks, honor the intel you gather. If your mind tells you you’re fried, take a screen break. If your body tells you it’s sore, give it a stretch. Carving out this time is only beneficial if you take advantage of those benefits.
2. Choose to protect your serenity
You can also use digital tools to police tech interruptions in your life and protect any existing (or scheduled) moments of calm, quiet, and focus. Things like…
- Tools to interrupt mind wandering
- Tools to create screen-free breaks in your day
- Tools to schedule time for deep work or focus
- Tools used to support or schedule offline pursuits (e.g. trips, hikes, social outings)
Distraction and mind wandering are not bad things, by any means. But they’re habits that are over-supported and over-developed though our use of technology, causing them to grow unwieldy and often unhealthy.
If you want your time back, you will need to intentionally (and sometimes forcibly) reclaim it. Because if you find a moment of serenity, whether its standing on a mountaintop or in your kitchen, you should be able to enjoy it without being interrupted.
3. Choose to add serene content
Sadly, “serenity” isn’t something you can merely Google and subscribe to. It’s a practice, not a product.
(Wait. I guess it’s a product too –and a cool ass movie!– but you know what I mean.)
There is content out there that can help improve your mental health, happiness, and mindfulness and nurture small moments of serenity. But again, you need to intentionally seek it out, interact with it, and proactively add it to your life. Things like…
- Subscriptions to daily quotes, art, affirmations, or inspiration
- Online journaling tools
- Gratitude practice tools
- Digital tools to support your spiritual practice
If you only look at daily news, weather, and stuff online related to the drudgery of your daily to-do list, that’s what the online algorithms will continue to serve up for you. Teach your tools that they should entice you with more inspirational, aspirational, and affirming fare.
4. Choose to eliminate threats to your serenity
Lastly, just like you should add serene content to your life, you should also subtract any content that messes with your mental health, happiness, and mindfulness.
Yes, I know…this is easier said than done! But sometimes what we need most is permission to ruthlessly cull the stuff that’s not working for us. So consider this post as permission granted to…
- Unsubscribe from emails that annoy you or provide little value
- Unfollow people who hurt or anger you
- Block sites that upset you (if you cannot seem to stop yourself from visiting them)
- Declutter your devices
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the context with which many are familiar with the term “serenity” and that is through 12 steps programs like AA. If you think you might have an addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, gaming, etc., they can help. If you love someone with an addiction, check out Al-Anon.