Over the years, technology has done us lots of favors. Yet, it’s possible that it does more harm to our personal lives and happiness than the other way around.
However, you should understand that it all comes down to how you use it. There are ways in which technology can improve the quality of your life and happiness with deliberate actions. Here’s how to develop healthy tech habits that can help you stay happier.
1. Practice Inertia With the StayFocused App
When you take action without thinking and gain instant gratification, your brain wants to repeat the pattern. For instance, checking your phone when you hear the sound of a new notification—even if you were working on something important—or getting lost in your social feed for hours can become impulsive behaviors.
According to a study by the Department of Informatics at UC Irvine, if you shift your focus from one thing to another, even for a few minutes, it can take you 23 minutes to regain it. That means, if you’re working on a project and keep checking your device, you simply can’t regain focus in time to give the task your full attention.
These actions may result in a mediocre performance, incomplete work, or missing deadlines and become a constant source of stress and guilt in the long run.
In his essay, Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill writes that the physical form of pleasure tends to be the lower pleasure. One can find higher pleasures in intellectual forms only. By practicing inertia—a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged—you may achieve this.
In her book, Restart: Designing a Healthy Post Pandemic Life, Doreen Dodgen Magee says that if you pause to reflect before touching your device, clicking a link, or opening an app, you can build a habit that paves the way to long-term happiness.
Pausing to reflect lets you contemplate your current state—how using your device at any moment will affect your schedule and what you should do instead—and keep you from giving in to the short-term pleasures. Practicing this skill and training your brain to take intellectual action can help you gain deeper satisfaction and happiness.
To put this concept into action, try the StayFocused app. With its Quick Block feature, you can prevent specified apps, keywords, or websites from opening for a set period. You can use this time to reflect and take wise action.
You can also block applications and websites, along with their notifications, for specific periods in terms of days, weeks, or months. You can use these features if you need to use your phone while working on something that needs focus.
Meanwhile, Strict Mode allows you to block your phone entirely for a specific time interval.
Download: StayFocused for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Recent research by Hopelab on social media usage and its effects on mental health found that 65% of teens and adults “hardly ever” or “never” feel left out when using social media.
However, a study in Communication Research found that the passive use of social media—like scrolling through your feed without interacting with posts or comparing yourself with other people’s lives—is a significant cause of depression.
On the other hand, the study found that using social media actively—sharing posts, engaging with others, liking, and commenting—may actually reduce symptoms of depression and help you become happier.
3. Practice Gratitude With Ease
Author of the book One Million Followers, Brendan Kane, wrote about reprogramming his brain and finding happiness using the technology he carries with him every day.
According to Kane’s post, one of the ways to be happier in life is practicing gratitude journaling every night before bed, even if the entry is related to small things.
But the problem arrives when you have to actually sit down and write, and you get confused about what to write about in the first place. Doing it every day may become a struggle. That’s where gratitude journaling apps, like Gratitude, come in.
The Gratitude app has thousands of ideas for you to get started with your gratitude writing process. All you have to do is click on the Help Me Out button.
Features of the app include a gratitude journal, positive affirmations, daily quotes, and a space to build a vision for your goals. Just select your aim, choose the type of affirmation you’d like, and begin.
4. Use Persuasive Technology
Persuasive technology aims to change your behavior by motivating you to take action. It encourages you to do things that you already want to do. However, it can be harmful as well as helpful.
For example, if you want to take healthy breaks during office hours to reduce sedentary behavior, an app reminding you to pause and change your posture at regular intervals can be helpful.
On the other hand, another app pulling in with notifications at times when you’re supposed to be doing something else is only contributing to your distractions. Be careful about which of the persuasive tech tools you get your hands on.
One app that can you use to your advantage is HabitMinder. It helps you build healthy habits and track them. For example, you can use it to build positive habits like drinking water, exercising, and practicing mindfulness.
You can also create custom reminders for yourself for small things like smiling, complimenting someone, praying, showing gratitude, going outside, and more. These little things may contribute a lot to your happiness.
5. Reduce Toxicity in Your Online Channels
We already discussed active and passive uses of social media. However, even active social media use can lead to frustration, stress, and anger if you’re following the wrong people or pages.
Common culprits include people with different political views, those who frequently complain about their lives, and those who constantly show how perfect their lives are.
Besides that, there might be pages you’re following that deliberately post controversial content just to get more comments. If such things show up in your news feed on a regular basis, it’s time you eliminate or minimize your exposure to them.
Doing so can contribute to your happiness more than you expect. All you have to do is unfollow the negative accounts or use features of the platform that can limit content from specified pages.
It’s also wise to make sure notifications are off for people and pages that sometimes frustrate you but that you don’t want to completely unfollow.
You Can Use Technology to be Happier
Technology is built to make your life easier, but it can also help you be happier. Take control of your technology using these tips and turn your distracting devices back into the useful tools they were meant to be.
If life has got you feeling down and out, these feel-good websites can cheer you up and help you feel a little bit better.
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