109 Ideas For Tuning Up The Soul

 
Seeking solace in Mexico.
 
There are now two known worlds, one virtual and one physical and we have a foot planted firmly in each. It’s the latter, the physical, where flesh meets the elements, but more and more the virtual world becomes our dominating sixth sense—the means in which we perceive and interact in the realm of the physical.

 

Bridging The Virtual/Real Divide

 

We talk a lot about quality of life, though often it feels like we overlook the simple things in our quest to discover meaning.

 

Modern Magic

 

Living in today’s world is simpler in some respects and more complicated in others.  It wasn’t that long ago, when personal computers, smart phones, the internet, space planes, spy satellites and a thousand other inventions were the dream of science fiction writers.  Now, these technological marvels are commonplace.  In the past, we made several circular motions with our index finger to dial the telephone.  Today, we say, “Call Mom” and our smart phone does the rest.  A letter used to mean scrawling out a message using a pen and paper, inserting it into an envelope, licking an envelope, locating the address, applying a stamp and dropping it off at a mailbox.  Now, it’s as easy as typing a quick note on a virtual keypad.  Better still, we can send it half way across the world with no cost and nary a thought to the electronic magic that makes it happen.

 

Forgetting What Matters

 

There’s no arguing that many of the chores of the past are now simpler.  Yet somewhere along the way, it’s almost as if we got so caught up with all these amazing new toys we forgot the things that matter most—things like real face-to-face connection with our friends, a breath of fresh air, taking the time to go for a walk and spending dinner together as a family.

 

The Evolution of Perception

 

In the bigger scheme, ours is an ongoing battle; one where the virtual world collides head on with a million years of human history. While human wiring screams to us that connection to people and planet is meant to happen in the flesh, we’ve recently become enraptured with digitized space.  Now, every step forward alters the balance by further separating our minds from the physical confines of our bodies.  In a sense, this is about evolution—the evolution of human perception.

 

Virtual paper.More Isolated Than Ever

 

For all the potential benefits, each new technological advance also brings a greater sense of isolation.  There are now two known worlds, one virtual and one physical and we have a foot planted firmly in each.  It’s the latter, the physical, where flesh meets the elements, but more and more the virtual world becomes our dominating sixth sense—the means in which we perceive and interact in the realm of the physical.

 

Technology Races On

 

On a practical level, our challenge is to take note when the virtual world overpowers the physical one.  As an example, human connection used to require a face-to-face visit with a real human being, but over time we’ve eroded the need for “real” connection as we’ve come to embrace its digital substitutes.  Emperors of old sent human runners, who would repeat a message word for word.  As the written word became the standard, the messenger was relegated to hand delivering a parchment sealed and stamped with wax. As paper and writing became ordinary, even common folk could enjoy the benefits of a hand-written letter.

 

Samuel Morse made improvements to earlier versions of the telegraph and was the first to successfully commercialize it.  His invention blew past previous barriers of time and space and profoundly altered our ability to communicate.  For the first time, the hard copy of the written word took the form of pulses of electric current sent across a wire.

 

In time, as our understanding of the electron continued to evolve, we discovered telephones.  Telephones brought us facsimile machines.  The advent of the personal computer brought the invention of email.  It became the perfect instrument to replace phone calls and faxes.  Today, texting makes email seem clunky, as it’s far more tolerant of abbreviation and misspelling.  Somehow, in the process, “how r u?” and “LOL” replace a smile, a handshake and real belly laughter.  Is that bad?  No, of course not.  The ability to use our fingers and dance across a keypad in order to send a note to loved one reminds them we care.  That can make someone’s day.

 

It’s Not Better, It’s Different

 

A hand built antique lasts forever.When it comes to bridging the divide between the virtual and the real, the issue isn’t to slam technology; it’s to understand its limits.  Using a new technique that makes a task easier to accomplish doesn’t equate to doing the task any better. Sure we can build more “thingamajigs” faster than ever, but isn’t it worth asking if we lose some of our humanity in the process?  A robot can stamp out a thousand parts 24 hours a day, but ask yourself this:  Would you rather own a real wood, hand-built piece of furniture, or a cheap particle-board knock off?  True, both serve the same function, but one was fashioned with care and will likely become a family heirloom, while the other seems destined for a short life and ultimate visit to the scrap heap.

 

Multi-Tasking Myth

 

Have you ever seen a guy riding a bike and talking on his cell phone at the same time?  Have you ever seen the car behind you swerve as the driver ignores the road for a text?  Maybe you think it’s cool we can do all these things at the same time.  In fact, the corporate world has even developed a term for it—they call it multi-tasking.  The ability to spread one’s attention amongst a variety of critical tasks is now considered a valued personal commodity in the work world.  Kind of makes you wonder, right?

 

Perhaps you’re convinced you are actually more productive doing several things at once. If so, it may be worth reading David Lynch’s piece in The Chronicle Review on “Divided Attention”, which explores a study by Clifford I. Nass, a professor of psychology at Stanford University.  Mr. Lynch writes:

 

“Indeed, last summer Nass and two colleagues published a study that found that self-described multitaskers performed much worse on cognitive and memory tasks that involved distraction than did people who said they preferred to focus on single tasks. Nass says he was surprised at the result: He had expected the multitaskers to perform better on at least some elements of the test. But no. The study was yet another piece of evidence for the unwisdom of multitasking.”

 

Isn’t it strange that the more capable we become, the more we’re asked to do? Is it any wonder we feel stressed? Technology is great for improving productivity, but there’s a point where we become so caught up trying to respond to every little thing we lose sight of the things that matter most.

 

Re-balancing Priorities

 

If you feel like you’re missing something in your life, if you feel disconnected, or if the only interaction you have with others is via email or texting, maybe it’s time for a change.  Recognizing the degree to which your virtual world is overpowering your physical one gives you the ability to re-balance your priorities.  How do you get started?  The list below presents 109 Ideas For Tuning Up The Soul.  It’s a back-to-basics approach for living life at a less-frantic pace, and for revisiting some of the things that worked so well  in our not-so-distant past.  Why not try a few of these and see how they make you feel?  Then come back and tell us about it.  We’d love to hear what worked or didn’t or if you have anything to add to our list.

 

 

I love walking on the beach.109 Ideas For Tuning Up The Soul

  1. Turn off all your electronic devices from time to time.
  2. In the absence of turning your phone off, leave it with someone else for awhile so you don’t feel required to answer it.
  3. Try not responding to an email or text for at least a half hour.
  4. Turn off your cell phone when you go to bed at night
  5. Stop watching commercial TV.  You can cut out the noise of all the ads by watching online or renting a DVD.
  6. Refrain from walking into your home after work and logging in on your computer.
  7. If you work in an office building, make a point to go outside at some point during the day for a stretch and bit of fresh air.
  8. Go for a walk.
  9. Go to the park.
  10. Go to the beach.
  11. Sit on a park bench.
  12. Sit on a beach log and stare at the waves.
  13. Walk in the rain.
  14. Walk in sun.
  15. Park your weary legs under a tall shady tree.
  16. Lie on the grass and stare at the clouds.
  17. Look for cool rocks or driftwood at the beach.
  18. Go to a museum and see what inspires your imagination.
  19. Go to an antique store and see how many things you can find that remind you of your childhood.
  20. Eat dinner with your family.
  21. Eat dinner with your family with the understanding no one will take a text or phone call during the entire meal.
  22. Watch a movie with your family and then discuss it with them.
  23. Pick a wildflower from the side of the road and bring it home to your sweetheart.
  24. Buy a bouquet of flowers for your loved one.
  25. Go to a nursery and just smell the flowers.
  26. Find a pretty leaf.
  27. If it is fall, take a walk and seek out the prettiest colored leaves you can find.
  28. If it snowed, go out and make a snowman.
  29. Make an angel in the snow.
  30. Ride a sled down a snowy hill.
  31. Fly a kite.
  32. Make a kite with your kids and then go fly it.
  33. Make a picnic lunch and go to the park or beach.
  34. Ride the merry go round at the park.
  35. Go down the slide at the park.
  36. Ask your friend for a good book recommendation and then go read it.  Maybe they can lend it to you if they own it.
  37. Rent your favorite movie, make some popcorn and watch it with a friend.
  38. Invite a friend over for dinner.
  39. Take the time to make a dinner from scratch.
  40. Bake some fresh rolls.Bake a loaf of bread from scratch.
  41. Make cookies with your kids.
  42. Do an art project with your kids.
  43. Do an art project without your kids.
  44. Try meditating.
  45. Try yoga.
  46. Get some nice cheese and pour yourself a glass of wine to go with it.
  47. Buy your favorite chocolate and see how long you can make it last in your mouth.
  48. Write a poem.
  49. Learn to play the guitar.
  50. Teach your kids some songs.
  51. Play twenty questions with your kids in the car.  All phones off!
  52. Gather friends or family and play a board or card game.
  53. Pet your dog or cat.
  54. Play with your dog or cat.
  55. If you don’t have a pet, ask to babysit your friend’s pet for an evening.
  56. Play house with your kids
  57. Play blocks with your kids.
  58. Try a new recipe.
  59. Make your favorite recipe.
  60. Call an old friend.
  61. Visit an old friend.
  62. Write a real letter.  You know…the one that takes a stamp.
  63. Make and send a real card for your friend’s birthday.
  64. Make up a plate of cookies and bring it to your neighbors.
  65. Ask your neighbors over when you plan your next BBQ.
  66. Make a point to visit your grandparents.
  67. Look at old family photographs with your kids.
  68. Take some photographs of your kids.
  69. Make a scrapbook of your favorite recipes.
  70. Make a scrapbook out of old photos and memories.
  71. Take a dance class.
  72. Invite friends over for a party.
  73. Take a class in something that interests you.
  74. Join a club.
  75. Volunteer at a daycare or local school.
  76. Join a gym.
  77. Work out with a friend.
  78. Join a church.
  79. Start a date night with your spouse.  Again, no phones.
  80. Get a massage.
  81. Give a massage.
  82. Plan a romantic evening with your significant other.
  83. Eliminate all distraction and play your favorite music.
  84. Find out what interests your kids.
  85. Spend a day at the spa.
  86. Get a manicure or pedicure.
  87. Give yourself permission to sleep in on the weekend.
  88. Serve your spouse breakfast in bed.
  89. Make a fancy plate of food for your kids to munch on.  Use healthy treats but make it fun.
  90. Cook pancakes in special shapes for your kids.
  91. Enjoy a bonfire.
  92. Cook marshmallows or hot dogs over a fire.
  93. Share a secret with a friend
  94. Plan a vacation.
  95. Take a vacation and leave the electronics behind.
  96. Sunset in Los CabosWatch a sunset
  97. Watch a sunrise
  98. Wrap yourself in a snugly blanket on a cold night.
  99. Slip into a nice hot bath.
  100. Float in a swimming pool.
  101. Go on a hike with a friend.
  102. Go skating or bowling with your kids.
  103. Go to an estate sale and find a inexpensive treasure.
  104. Set up the coffee pot Saturday night so Sunday morning you can flip the switch, grab the paper and go back to bed to enjoy both.
  105. Give a friend a hug.
  106. Give your spouse a hug.
  107. Give your kid a hug.
  108. Smile at the next person you see.
  109. Give thanks for a life filled with so many wonders.

 

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