Happiness is not having a cell phone

I’ve had a number of “enlightening” moments over the past year and a big one was how incredibly addicted I was to my cell phone. This sounds so shallow writing it, but I had been connected constantly since 1998 when I moved to Sweden and got my first Ericsson Worldphone. It was blue and beautiful and it could “SMS” which was really cool. It defined me. It made me feel important. It kept me connected to everyone and everything.

Since 1998, I’ve been constantly connected, not realizing how “disconnected” it actually made my life. For instance, in March, I found myself hiding my cellphone in the cushion of our couch while reading a book to my 6-year-old daughter. Checking it every five minutes. Not in any way present for Amelie. Fully disconnected. I felt like a drunk hiding bottles around the house.

In May, I was at an acupuncture appointment, laying there jumpy because my phone was over on the desk and I couldn’t check it. I thought, “What is wrong with me?” And that began a day-long look at me and my cellphone. By the end of the day, I’d put down my cell phone for good.  I changed the message to “Don’t call this number any more,” and apologized to everyone at work and friends who didn’t know how else to get ahold of me.

The hardest part in the beginning was sitting at stoplights with nothing to do. I’m a big KGNU fan now. Co-workers said, “How will I reach you?” I said, “I’ll be in my office or at home, you have my land line don’t you? If I’m not at one of those places, I’m not available.” That was initially an unacceptable statement. But as the summer progressed, we got into a groove.

The impact this has had on my day-to-day life is immeasurable. It’s like I have my life back. It’s liberating. It’s freeing. I am not reachable at every second of the day. I can rake the leaves or be with my family and not stop when I feel a vibration in my pocket. My kids are ecstatic. My wife was totally supportive and loves me not having a cell.

Recently, it crept up again! My wonderful friends bought me an iPad when I was at my worst (physically and emotionally) in my entire life. Nancy didn’t want me to get one, but when I was in such bad shape they pounced on her, “Can we get him one now?” She caved. It was such a generous gift and the best grown up toy ever–like a big iPhone. Skyping, Sonos, Rhapsody, Exchange for my email, contacts, calendar. Lot of good fun, right?

Cut to three months later. It is with me at every moment. I bring it to every meeting, open it and look at my emails in no way present for whomever. It is back in the cushions of the couch and then the breaking point. I’m at a stoplight and there’s a Starbucks on the corner. I’m looking at my iPad and I connect to the Starbucks Wi-Fi and I’m so excited. Every time I stop at this light, I’ll be able to send an email or check my email. What a bonus!

So now my iPad stays at home. I’m wondering what this is all about? Why are we all so wrapped up in our phones? Some of us more than others. Is it a validation thing? An expectation thing for others to get back to me quickly? What does it fill on a deep level inside of me?

Here I am, probably one of the only people in my town of 80,000 without a phone. I know some older folks, 70+ that don’t have one but that’s all. Do you know any? Are they weirdos? Off the grid? Paranoid? I’m grateful for this change in my life and cannot see myself going back. Can you imagine your life without one?

This post was originally posted as a “guest blogger” on fearlessrevolution.com  http://fearlessrevolution.com/blog/happiness-is-not-having-a-cell-phone.html

15 thoughts on “Happiness is not having a cell phone

  1. Dude,

    I so know that feeling of checking my phone at lights, while waiting in a doctor’s office, and even when reading to the kids. Your post will make me think twice about it (I can’t totally promise I won’t check it-but will try). My biggest thing these days is to be present-with my kids, my wife, at my job, etc. So maybe I’ll keep checking it at lights, but its gone everywhere else.

    Love you man. Hope you’re doing as well as you sound.

  2. you continue to play the role of my hero Lance, giving up the cell and ipad, these are heroic acts that cause me to tremble with fear………….xoxoxo

  3. Good for you, Lance! I leave my phone in my desk when I go to meetings so I can look people in the eye and be fully present. At home, I often turn it off in the evenings or put it in the drawer and leave it at home while having a fun weekend day with my husband. Communication is wonderful, but we have to be the master of it instead of the slave. xo

  4. Hi The Phone is additicting and I have no idea why.
    I am just as bad I look at my phone and i pad all the time.
    However my save in grace is that it runs out of battery at 3:00pm every day
    and when it does I am them off the grid which is nice.

    Lately I have been on it a lot less but because I work for a children’s organization
    and you have to be focused on kids when one is around kids..which I too find great pleasure in not being plugged in!
    Lovely Blog Nancy and Lance!
    Susan B

  5. Ha! I really am appreciating your message, Lance. I am one of the few who actually still has a cellphone that is not connected to the world-wide-web and is not even tempted to glance at it when it buzzes me while driving or otherwise occupied. Welcome to my world… much more peaceful and downstream here, oblivious to the details of the busybusybusy realities of so many, many others.

  6. Our gadits are made to make OUR life easier NOT to make us slaves to our employees, our customers, etc. I give my cell # out to a CHOSEN FEW. I am available during work hours only, period on my cell. My pat answer (to myself) is, I’ll be the slave during work hours but after that, SCREW YOU. I’m available 9-5 Mon thru Sat. If that doesnt fit into YOUR schedule, tough, it can wait until Monday I think this crap with the cell phones, ipads, facebook, etc make people feel REAL IMPORTANT. Its like people bragging about how many “friends” they have on face book!! How about the jack ass who asks you out for an after work drink then spends the entire time on his cell, at the table, with a blue tooth stuck into his ear!! I could spend everyday until midnight on my cell but I REFUSE!! Glad you FINALLY figured this out Lance. Love ya

  7. I love your blog Lance and Nancy! I’ve been reading along with everyone else and felt moved to comment on the phone/connections in our lives. Having grown up with a party line and parents that limited phone time to 2 minutes AFTER dinner, I never felt driven to get “connected”. I recently felt like something of a dinosaur when I asked if the grandkids could write to us…I said how much we LOVED to get mail from them, only to have their parents say that it is too much trouble! Writing is a gift, one that many will never enjoy. In the meantime, I’ll keep sending cards and letters, and hope it catches on! You guys keep on finding new ways to enjoy your precious family…kids remember that kind of love and attention all their lives! Love, Larken

  8. Lance,

    Nice article. I’m sharing it with my family, especially my boys, who live in the world of texting and always checking their phone. I feel we are doing our kids a dis-service by letting them have smartphones with all the access to the things you reference. I predict we are bringing up a new generation with an electronic addiction.

    Stay strong.


  9. Lance if it makes you feel better my Mom and Dad don’t have a cellphone . They drive all the way from Vancouver Island to Green Valley Arizona ( near Tucson ) and like … are not reachable . I have accepted it . I must say was a bit worried when my Dad told me about the snowstorm they hit with Zero visability but the cool thing was I found out after the fact ! Lance I don’t want a cellphone ! but we just got an Ipad . I have to admit I haven’t touched it as think it might explode at my touch ( am not good at tactile stuff) but Phenix is definitely hooked . . . as we can only expect a teenager to be 🙂 x Melissa

  10. We are all incredibly blessed for the honesty, heartfelt communication and the way you and nancy have elected to so intimately share your journey. You have touched the lives of countless people who are not only inspired by your words but both of your actions. You are angels on this earth and I, for one, just want to say thank you. You have helped me think -and improve! -many areas/thoughts/habiits and I am eternally grateful. A big hug to you both.

  11. Course, you know, the older generation got along just fine without cell phones. I think they are really useful when you are meeting someone at an airport, for instance, or driving to someone’s home and don’t have gps, but other wise, they tend to own you, instead of being a convenience.

    Love your blog, love you!

  12. I love this post. I often have said that I will truly be successful when I do not need a cell phone. Why not now? But I just got the new Droid! So tantalizing! So much functionality! This cycle of immediate gratification needs to stop. A long time ago (15 years now) a friend and I were playing golf and he turned to me and said, “I can’t wait until I can give up this game.” I felt the same and after that I never played again. I am pissed because my upgrade required a new two year contract! I am going to do this. Have you noticed that with texting no one needs to be on time anymore? Do I sound like a curmudgeon?

    • You don’t sound like a curmudge you are just old. You remember a time before. No one in my office is old enough to remember. They all probably think I’m nutso. It’s been getting a little dicey lately when I take off with the kids on the weekends for hours on end and Nan wonders where the heck I am. Last week I got confused and left her sitting at the gym for an hour. Not cool. So I don’t know about total eradication anymore. Maybe it has a place. I still haven’t picked it up though.

  13. True…however, there were times when I was stranded and they are indelible memories. Exercises in patience and acceptance.

    We talk about you all the time…We are living better lives because you are sharing your journey…Thanks so much.

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