The art of living spectacularly

By Ruth Limkin

It seems that we’re switching on to the idea of switching off.

Last week, the Hurstville Mayor encouraged Australians to turn their mobile phone off on Australia Day and spend it with friends and family.

Now the Courier Mail has reported the increasing trend of holidaymakers who are ’embracing resorts that ban mobile phones or have no reception in an attempt to disconnect, and to escape other people using theirs.’ Spokesperson for one such resort said, “I think the new luxury is about being able to focus on who you are and getting away from all of those everyday things.”

‘All of those everyday things’ are many indeed.

In a culture seemingly sustained by distraction, we are at risk of being overwhelmed by the amount of information we receive, and the amount we produce.

A new study has revealed that we are receive the equivalent of 174 newspapers of information each day. It reports:

“The growth in the internet, 24-hour television and mobile phones means that we now receive five times as much information every day as we did in 1986. But that pales into insignificance compared with the growth in the amount of information we churn out through email, twitter, social networking sites and text messages. Every day the average person produces six newspapers worth of information compared with just two and a half pages 24 years ago – nearly a 200-fold increase.”

We’re often driven by a desire to ‘not miss out’ on what’s happening, but it can feed a dissatisfaction with the present. Instead of enjoying right where we are, we seemed to have developed an insatiable curiosity about ‘elsewhere’. Who can say whether this is from dissatisfaction within, a learned lack of attention, or something else altogether?

To qualify, I’m a huge user of technology, and don’t advocate a luddite approach. Yet sometimes we need to recalibrate technology as servant rather than master.

Doug Larson, a Wisconsin columnist once observed, “The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.”

Learning the art of being content, without tipping into being complacent, is a skill worth pursuing. It may help us switch off sometimes to ‘everything else’, and switch on to ‘right now’. I suspect that if we can learn to do that, we’ll find ourselves doing some very spectacular living.