personal manifesto: meaning – purposeful contribution

In the two previous posts I’ve talked about pleasure and betterness; both fundamentally important to live well. But without an intentional commitment to purposeful contribution, no amount of pleasure or self improvement will satisfy. So this post is about the third of the three drivers: meaning. If you haven’t read the last few posts, please read the intro post for context.

The table below is a bit of a taxonomy of the three drivers …


Meaning: purposeful contribution

Some things matter to me more than others. A meaningful life is one where what I actually do, how I spend my time every week, the decisions and behaviours that shape my life, are aligned with my beliefs about what matters in life.

I am involuntarily drawn to engage the things that matter to me. I can be interested in a whole range of things, but some things draw my service and my giving of time and money. These are the things that matter to me. Family. Social justice. Environmental care. Local community issues. Poverty …

The drive for meaning

Meaning is the bedrock of a well lived life for me. I cannot embrace existential nihilism’s argument that there is no intrinsic purpose in life, so all meaning is construed. Neither can I accept, at the other end of the scale, fundamental religion’s insistence that we can access an unambiguous God-revealed purpose. Yet I crave meaning in my life. I can ignore it for a time as I busy myself with pleasure and betterness, but it breaks through my mid-life consciousness at any reflective opportunity. I know in my heart of hearts that I am part of something bigger, that my actions or inactions have consequences and that somehow my reason for being is, to a significant extent about contribution.

The contributions that satisfy my need for meaning are related to our shared destiny as people and planet, our connectedness. I derive a sustained sense of meaningfulness, not from activity that is about me (pleasure and betterness), but about the welfare of others individually and us collectively.

Connections between meaning and feeling good about life.

As much as goodness is underrated, busyness is overrated. Despite my inclination to wear it as a badge of honour, it is a contemporary pathology because it can so easily disqualify me from meaningfulness and so robs me of satisfied living. So many things are apparently so important right now. Against this reality is the consistency of voices from those in the twilight of their lives who wish they had spent more of their time being true to themselves and investing in the relationships of those they love.

In the context of my busyness, I feel a corrective call to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’. This is a healthy call, a good one for now. But a better call would be not only to slow down and stop doing, but to ‘do better things’, things that align with my convictions about what matters most in the world. The great lie I tell myself is that the important things can wait until later. “I’ll spend more time with my family once I’ve got through this year”, or “I’ll give back to society once I’m semi-retired.” As I heard someone say recently, if I feel like I’ve got to ‘give back’, it probably means I’ve taken too much in the first place.

When I’m living a meaning-ful life, when I’m clear about what is important and manage to direct my primary energies to engaging and contributing to those things, I am rarely flustered or scattered. There is a calm determination that helps me navigate the complexities of life.

According to Martin Seligman’s research, published in Authentic Happiness, those who report the highest levels of personal happiness are those whose lives are shaped by a commitment to contributing to the wellbeing of others. There is a paradox here. The activities and causes that result in the most sustained satisfaction in life are those where the beneficiary is another. I crave meaning in my life. But my craving sits alongside my drivers for pleasure and betterness, who’s promised rewards are more immediate, and in many cases are more socially acceptable.

The experience of sustained meaningful living, in essence, comes from selflessness. That I derive the most satisfaction from activity that is mainly about contributing to the welfare of others, is a profound statement of my connectedness with other human beings.

Questions that help me understand meaning in my life

1.What matters to me? What do I consider of most importance? What do I believe in? From where do I derive a sense of purpose?

2.To what extent am I engaged and active in pursuit of what matters most to me. Am I making a contribution to a better world? (Not at all / every now and then / frequently / my life is full of meaningful service)

3. What will I do to better align my actual behaviour with what I believe is important?

Personal manifesto: Betterness – competent participation

I recently posted the introduction to my personal manifesto. Please read this for context if not already. In this post I’ve included some notes on the second of “three drivers”. The “drivers” are the three key motivations that shape our living. Psychologists vary in how they describe these; my framework draws mainly from the work of Martin Seligman.

I want my life to get better. And I want to get better at the things I am good at. My thesis here is that one of the core motivations in life is continual improvement. That somehow if we were to map our desired life on a graph, the line would be ‘going up’, no matter what we were mapping.

Betterness: competent participation

I love the word ‘good’. It is an over-used word, but an underrated one. Goodness has both a sense of competence (‘I’m good at that’) and a moral sense (‘He’s a good man’). In mathematics, a vector has two dimensions; a size and a direction. An application of this in physics is velocity which has both a speed and a direction. In a centred set, an element not only has a position (proximity to the centre) but an orientation (in which direction is it going?). So while ‘good’ is a concept I like, ‘better’ is one I like more because it not only has a value but a sense of movement. Better is to good, what velocity is to speed.

My business Vocate has a tag line: work better, do better work. I like this because at the end of the day, simply improving my skills, becoming better at the things I do is not enough. I am interested in constantly evaluating what I am doing. I don’t only want to do things better, I want to do better things.

My drive for betterness

I want my life to be better. I want the things that dominate my days and weeks this year to be, somehow, better than last year. Improvement. Not to be confused with bigger, richer, more powerful. Quality not quantity. Swap redundant activity for new habits that increase love, joy, peace, hope and health.

It is a seasonal thing too. Living part time in a caravan was great for six years. In the season that followed, selling it was ‘better’. I completely loved cooking elaborate barbeques for the family; now that we eat much less meat, I gravitate more to mixing spices and herbs with vegies. ‘Better’, but contextually so, not absolutely.

I’m also driven to be ‘better’ at the things I’m already ‘good’ at. Over the course of six years, we figured out how to be ‘better’ at living in a caravan, by refining the rhythms and ‘equipment’ that made life better. I am constantly trying to learn how to be better at my work, to improve my kitchen skills, to love my family better and to understand the world more fully. It is a natural drive and when I’m not improving, there is something that gets messed up in my being. Stagnation is death.

The connections between betterness and feeling good about life

In Authentic Happiness, the renowned psychologist Martin Seligman explains research into sources of reported life satisfaction and happiness. Those who’s primary life goals (in practice) are about ‘getting better’ at things for which they have a talent or acquired skill, report higher levels of happiness than those who are primarily serial chasers of pleasurable experiences. Those who leave the warmth of their bed to get up early and exercise before work, or the professional who puts in the hard yards to master their craft, report higher levels of life satisfaction than their hedonist friends. I have found this to be true. I feel better about life when I am consciously including developmental behaviour than if I gorge on pleasure.

Pleasure is essentially about experience. Betterness is about competent participation in society, about achievement. The two are not mutually exclusive; the sensual pleasure of mixing and brewing a good curry and the pride in ‘nailing it’ are connected.

Questions that help me understand betterness

1. What am I good at?

2. To what extent am I using and being recognised for these contributions? (Not at all / every now and then / frequently / my life is full of doing what I’m good at)

3. What will I do to ensure I am doing more of what I’m good at, and that I am constantly bettering?

what is greatness?


(will resume posts from my manifesto next time …)

I started the day in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the Tenement Museum. Through film, an amazing bookshop, and guided tours of restored tenements and the local area, the centre tells the story of how the Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians, Chinese and others came to New York and shaped the society that is the Manhattan we know today. I learned about the living conditions, the working environment, and labour movement, the social institutions and the cultural melting pot that was the Lower East Side. These people were adventurous and resilient. From incredible hardship, they achieved prosperity for their families and communities.

The streets in the Lower East Side are still an eclectic mix of cultures. It is gritty and strong.

Then I got on the metro and 5 stops later emerged into a different world. Up near Central Park on 5th Avenue, the Rockerfeller Centre is a monument to individual capitalism. The creed inscribed in the plaque is the classic homage to liberal capitalism. As one of my colleagues said, that’s easy to say when you’ve got lot’s of money and power.

The buildings around Midtown are shiny and tall. The streets are clean and sidewalks are paved in contrast to the clusters of brick tenements and potholed roads of the LES. What is greatness? It can mess with your brain. Contrasting perspectives born of different life experiences.

I have only been here once before, many years ago. It is presumptuous of me to say so, but in my view NYC is a transformed city. Overall it feels cleaner, more civil and more socially aware. It is more ‘progressive’; there is healthy food everywhere and the Highline is a great example of urban renewal done with outstanding success. When I was here last time my local host was explaining to me the city’s challenge to completely replace the water and sewerage infrastructure in New York and on Manhattan specifically. I remember being completely overwhelmed with the magnitude of the project. This weekend there is evidence all around the city of pipes being replaced. We also learned of the now completed project to renovate the Empire State Building to achieve the highest level of energy efficiency. I admire the American spirit and commitment to get on and do it. In our part of the world it is always politically too hard to do the big things, the things with long term payback.

If there is one thing that these few privileges days here have reminded me, it is that people, individually and collectively can achieve great things. It takes courage and steely resolve. The scale of this place blows your mind. If you can transform a city like NY, then it seems anything is possible.

Personal manifesto: Pleasure – engaging beauty

Last week I posted the introduction to my personal manifesto. Please read this for context if not already. In this post I’ve included some notes on the first of “three drivers”. The “drivers” are the three key motivations that shape our living. Psychologists vary in how they describe these; my framework draws mainly from the work of Martin Seligman.

My understanding of the place of pleasure has changed a lot over the years. Knowing deep down that pleasure doesn’t offer deep and lasting satisfaction, I had mistakenly not given it a healthy place. I now appreciate better the relationship between pleasure and beauty. Elevating pleasure has helped me embrace the incredible beauty on offer in the natural world.

Pleasure: engaging beauty

I define pleasure as being associated with the five senses. I am a physical being, I live in a material world. This is not about materialism or sensuality in the way those terms are normally used, it is about the enjoyment I get from experiencing the beauty of the world via my senses.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder and that holds true here too. Whether it is the feel of a new car, a breathtaking vista, the taste and smell of an exquisite meal or favourite tea, or a long slow embrace with Maria, I am buoyed by great sensual experiences.

My drive for pleasure

I have a natural drive to maximise my pleasure, and I do not think I am alone: it is an unusual person who actively shuns opportunities for pleasure. In some communities of which I have been a part, there has been a high value placed on sacrificial service, the drive for pleasure may not have been immediately apparent and was certainly not overtly encouraged. Austere living or choosing socially or environmentally challenging contexts masked, at least for me, what a little scratching below the surface revealed; a consistent drive to ensure I was being sustained by sensually pleasing experiences.

The connections between pleasure and feeling good about life

The pursuit of pleasure alone leaves me unsatisfied. But my desire for pleasure is insatiable.

It is not that the overseas holidays are not satisfying, even exhilarating. In fact some of the genuinely best times of life have been when in strange and distant lands. The point is that if I expect my holiday, my new jeans, or new home alone to deliver me deep and lasting contentment, I know I will be sorely disappointed. However, nearly every media message I consume lies to me that maximising pleasure is what life is all about. So instead of the pursuit of pleasure contributing to a well lived life in concert with other elements, despite it continually failing to quench my search for satisfaction, I keep going back to the well in pathetic addiction.

Pleasure is a fundamentally important part of being fully alive, but it must be pursued in concert with other drivers.

Questions that help me understand what gives me pleasure

1. What gives (has given) me pleasure? What are those daily or special things that warm my soul and make me thankful I’m alive? Not only the routinely ‘pleasant’ things, but those things that really enliven me.

2. To what extent are these things part of my life in this season? (Not at all / every now and then / frequently / my life is full of them)

3. What will I do to inject and integrate more pleasure into my living?

Next post: betterness: competent participation

personal manifesto: intro

In my last post I explained why I ended up writing a personal manifesto. This is the first in a series of posts where I’ll share the content. Each piece is designed to fit into a cohesive whole, so I’m a tad nervous about posting in isolation, but hopefully the little bits carry some value on their own and add some value for your own deliberations on living well. If you’d prefer to get it all at once, you can download a pdf from the bottom of this page.

If bite size is your preference, then to get a sense of where it’s going, here is the contents page.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 11.49.45 AM


IN MY OLD AGE, assuming I am fortunate enough to get there, I’ll be reflecting back on my life and the memories will provoke deep reactions. The panoramic view of life in hindsight will distill the reality from the rhetoric I told myself along the way. I’ll see the consequences of my choices, all of which seemed to make sense at the time, but some of which I will wish I could re-visit.

For a very long time I’ve been interested in understanding what constitutes a well lived life. What does it mean to be fully alive? Generally, I have had a good time of it: a loving, stable childhood, tons of opportunity, and some achievement. My mother is currently living with dementia, one of our daughters has a chronic disease, and one of our other kids has lost a partner in an air crash, each of which has shaped (and continues to shape) our little family significantly, but in the scheme of things we consider ourselves fortunate. Grace and luck: tick and tick. But there have also been choices; real choices that shape how life has gone. Occasionally there have been big calls (career, life partner, where to live etc), but for the most part living is defined by patterns of behaviour, patterns that are formed over time and that I perceive as part of who I am rather than choices I have made (what I do in my discretionary time, what I eat, how I exercise etc).

I have come to realise that the quality of my living has had less to do with external realities and more to do with how I see and make sense of the world; my mental models. These notes are, in that sense, a mental model. They offer a framework to help me understand what the underlying realities are, for me, in what I believe will be a well lived life; it helps explain why my life seems to be going well in any given season (or not) and as a corollary offers me a diagnostic lens to determine what I can seek to change if I have a hunch that things are not quite right.

My framework is not prescriptive. It is not about living a particular way, within a particular ideology or worldview. The framework is a set of design elements, things that I have discovered are true of my living in any context, with whatever ‘attribute hand’ I have been dealt, if I am to be fully myself, living life to the full and making choices that ensure I don’t look back on my life with regret.

The framework helps me develop a meaningful response to the question, “What kind of life have I lived so far?” and also provides a lens through which to evaluate smaller chunks of time (the seasons of life). There already exist some ways to describe elements of being ‘fully alive’, (such as mojo & flow), but I haven’t come across a single word to describe, with nuance, what I have developed here, so I have chosen to use ‘generative living’. These notes explain how I get there, and why this word has been valuable for me in figuring out better ways to live.

This is a personal manifesto. I am an educated, urban living, professional with a family. I am under no illusion that my notes here are applicable across cultures and contexts, or even for other people, although my suspicion is that those living in a similar environment might identify with some of my ideas.

There are two parts. In the first I’ve outlined the elements of a framework through which I view my life. (see below) Included in this are notes on:

  • three key drivers; pleasure, betterness and meaning
  • two foundations; home and community, and
  • four enabling disciplines; getting & staying unstuck, being uncluttered, modal living and contentment.

The second part introduces the idea of generativity; what it is and how it is a helpful frame applied to the earlier notes on living well.

overview annotated

Next post: pleasure: engaging beauty.

a personal manifesto


In every stage of my life, amidst the clutter and noise; the busyness and status anxiety; the rules and the ideologically driven pronouncements, I’ve wondered about what was most important. And then came the integrity question: under scrutiny does my actual living match what I say is valuable?

The harder I tried to write a book about what I was learning, and I tinkered away at it for many years, the more uncomfortable I became with the presumption that my reflections on my own living would be transferable and applicable for others. It seemed to me that the peculiarities of our individual experiences and identities make ‘self development’ material a loose net that only catches people who are already similar to ourselves. So I stopped trying and made peace with the reality that my ideas wouldn’t have a broad audience.

And then I realised that I was actually the main audience for the content. What I was trying to do was to capture some ideas that had formed and been really useful over the years. This recognition liberated me to go back and reframe what I had done as a personal manifesto.

There is an intro and 16 short chapters. Over the next little while I’ll post some of it. If I am the primary audience, why am I posting it? This blog has always been a journal; packaging my observations and experiences into reflective little thought bubbles has been therapeutic for me. Looking back through the hundreds of posts is like looking through an old photo album. This little book is no different, so while I needed to write it for me in this season of life, I’m happy for others to engage the ideas if helpful.

What are the dimensions of a life well lived? What kind of life am I living? What choices can I make to insure against future regret? I’ll post the intro next week.

empowerment; only partly good

This osprey lived near our place on the Sunshine Coast.

This osprey lived near our place on the Sunshine Coast.

Vocational communities are characterised by self-management (see previous post). Most people assume this is about empowerment. But as Frederic Laloux explains in Reinventing Organisations (p137), self-management is much more than that. If employees need to be empowered, it is because power is concentrated at the top of the organisation. Empowerment is the process by which those who hold power, delegate its use to those lower down in the organisation. Self-management happens when decision-making rights are distributed and held by everyone.

Make no mistake, empowerment is a great improvement on the authoritarian hierarchies of most organisations. Empowerment is the healthy processes whereby people have the capacity to give input and shape the decisions that affect their work. But the authentic self-management of vocational communities is something entirely different.

Allowing anyone in the organisation to make any decision sounds completely ridiculous from within the conventional organisational paradigm. Surely it is unworkable in practice. When Dennis Bakke was CEO of AES, a global power company with 40,000 employees, anyone could make any decision including: what they did, the salary they took, investment decisions … The mechanism used for decision-making was called the Advice System. In essence, it was mandatory to seek advice for any decision that affected others. Obviously the bigger the decision, the wider the consultation. The nature of the decision dictated the kind of expert advice sought. Importantly though, no one, not even the CEO could veto a decision.

Bakke recalls the story of Shazad Qasim a recently hired financial analyst who sought advice from him about relocating to Pakistan to expand AES’ work into that region. Bakke was sceptical given the market research the company had already conducted which had concluded AES would fail in Pakistan. However, Qasim designed a role for himself and (with extensive advice seeking with Bakke and the board) decided to invest $200M in a new power plant. Clearly this is an extreme case, but I share it to illustrate that this approach is not “Mickey Mouse”. It unleashes innovation unimaginable in conventional hierarchies.

Extraordinary injustices still exists in our society but most are widely acknowledged. In the workplace however, it is still considered, not only normal but necessary to limit the influence of voices. Self-management is not about unleashing foolishness; it is about a profound acknowledgement that extraordinary intelligence and competence is untapped in conventional organisations because of the restrictions the power hierarchy imposes on people’s ownership of the outcomes and their capacity to implement their best ideas.

It need not be so, but it will take some courageous leadership effort to change it. The future belongs to vocational communities.

comfortable partial truths

scales uneven

I get frustrated with myself sometimes when I shrink from advocating passionately for contentious issues. People I respect write fiercely provocative essays, attend rallies or pepper their social media streams with political, religious or social ideologies. And I hold back. My defence is usually, ‘It’s not that simple’, or ‘Of course you’d say X because you’ve never seriously seen the world from the perspective of people who experienced Y.’

When I was a Uni student I sat listening to a talk by a Dr Ian John. I wrote about that talk, the first time I’d come across the idea of a paradigm in this post four years ago. More recently, I came across this quote by Clay Johnson, American technologist and political campaigner.

“Who wants to hear the truth when you can hear that you are right.”

Over the years I’ve come to see that we tend to believe the things that ‘significant others’ in our lives believe. Or, in other words, we identify with a community and adopt the belief system of that community. Of course we tell ourselves we have thought rationally about our beliefs, but we usually read apologetic material from people we already believe are ‘right’.

Twice in the last month I’ve flicked through a newspaper and been genuinely shocked by the editorial pieces on climate change. Recently a full page article was mockingly pointing out that the ‘climate was refusing to rise’. If you read the Herald Sun that day, then chances are you might not have watched the ABC News the night before, during which an item discussed the records showing that 2015 had been the hottest year ever recorded. Hmmm.

In a business context we are typically pretty poor at debate too. I think it is because we hold our views too close to our professional identities. Somehow, being persuaded by a better argument is a sign of weakness. Unfortunately, what often happens is the strongest personality wins. In his excellent little books Death by Meeting and The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni goes as far as to say that unless there is conflict and debate in meetings where important issues are on the table, they are a waste of time.

So, seeking out alternative views, although uncomfortable, will strengthen our thinking incredibly. If an important issue is gaining momentum I believe it is an important role of thought leaders to appreciate alternative views. For example, if you find yourself agreeing with the increasingly mainstream arguments for euthanasia, then do what I did and seek out a robust alternative perspective. (Karen Hitchcock’s piece in the Monthly makes a strong case against the prevailing wisdom.)

There is nothing wrong with identifying with a community and telling each other stories that affirm our worldview. In fact, it a great thing, belonging and shared meaning. There is something unhealthy though, about so filtering our mental diet that we believe that everyone who believes something different is either stupid or evil. If you want to seriously understand the dynamics of why smart people end up being divided on important issues, I highly recommend Jonathon Haidt’s The Righteous Mind. If you haven’t got the time or headspace for that, and you think euthanasia is a no brainer and anyone who thinks otherwise belongs in the past, then just read Hitchcock (above).

I am still learning on this, but increasingly I find myself asking, not whether a particular view is right or wrong, but rather, ‘what are the values that either consciously or unconsciously lead to that perspective?’ Or, put another way, focus less on ‘what I think is right’, and more on ‘why I think what I think, and why others think what they think.’

If we believe what we believe because of our experience, then it follows that the only way to know whether our beliefs hold up to even our own scrutiny, is to expose ourselves to alternative perspectives and experiences – let them go. If our convictions come back to us we will hold them very differently than if we’d never let them go in the first place.

we admire bravery – but not at work

one of our Participation Behaviours from Ergo Consulting days

one of our Participation Behaviours from Ergo Consulting days

Last week at the end of a meeting I was chatting with someone about bravery. He was reflecting his frustration at having explained to a group of business leaders how acts of bravery inevitably lead to failure. The response he got was an explanation of the sophisticated risk mitigation approach the company uses. – completely missing the point. If we are brave, we will fail.

We’ve all seen it. Good practice project management always includes a risk register. But in the kind of projects I am involved with, most of the risks are managed intuitively by good practitioners anyway, so the technical security blanket does little more than add to the administrative drag on the project.

We are caught in a paradox. On the one hand, pretty much every company I work with needs innovative ways to do its business. And yet on the other, our corporate training suppresses the bravery necessary to carve out new paths. We can’t keep doing the same old things. But we can’t afford to fail trying new things.

Yesterday I drove a Patrol full of smiling faces along deserted beaches along part of the north east coast of Tassie. After we’d stopped for lunch and a swim, we had to choose whether to retrace our path back along the beach, or keep going then traverse some sand dunes back towards civilization. I’m not so experienced off road, so would have been happy swaying back through the wet and dry stretches we’d successfully negotiated in the morning. Thanks to my more adventurous brother-in-law we kept going – and got ourselves stuck half way up a soft sand hill. Oh crap. Luckily for us, a helping tow and some tips from a hardcore local had us moving again.

Last week, in the middle of a long running work project, we were stuck in a different way. Something we had worked towards for 18 months was under significant threat … lots of money and people’s jobs at stake. We’ve decided to take a risk on the way forward … no certain success but nothing ventured nothing gained.

My dad is not so mobile these days … but he is scheming to buy a little caravan to do some adventuring. He’s not sure if he’ll be able to manage, but he reckons he wants to give it a go.

We can’t have it both ways. There is no love without vulnerability. There is no carving out new directions without bravery. And just as in love, we let each other down; in life, if we choose not to play it safe, we will fail.

We admire bravery, just not at work. But we can’t have it both ways.

attention as commodity (or me as self righteous luddite)


100 years ago fortunes were made from oil, timber, iron, and other (finite) natural resources. Our great grand parents and grandparents were willing consumers as the world changed in ways unimaginable in the years before them. Pollution and sustainability were not even on their radar.

Entrepreneurs of our time are making fortunes competing for another finite resource; our attention. We are similarly willing consumers of media that apparently enhances our lives. Digital connectedness is increasingly ubiquitous in the same way we take electricity for granted. A leading global research company has recently changed its questions about the frequency of people’s ‘internet use’ to include an option “almost always connected”. Current US data has 20% of people selecting this option; not surprising given the current habitual use of smart phones.

Progress brings incredible benefits. Very few of us however, even the most insightful, can predict the unintended unhealthy or negative consequences of social and technology trends. Early motorists bumping down dirt roads would not have conceived of experiences associated with metro peak hour commuting today in LA or Melbourne. As we all embrace electronic and social media, can we imagine the pathologies associated with being constantly connected?

I have slowly been opting out. I should say that I know a few people who are passionate advocates of digital technology who aren’t addicts. But they are rare.

We love a convert. Christians love a reformed criminal or serious sinner. These days we similarly love a converted social media addict, the instagram celebrity who turns off her account. We are less enamoured with the wise folks who never got sucked in in the first place. Funny that.

I’m neither a recovering addict or someone who has never been immersed and drawn in. I would never have admitted it, but I loved being the FourSquare mayor of a major airport Lounge – figured I’d made it as a frequent flyer. Crap. But I always got angry that people seemed so confused by the difference between popularity and value, and the pathetic way we all like to cultivate a particular online persona and image.

Let’s not give away our attention to media. What I attend to shapes my life. Start by switching your phone to airplane mode for a period everyday. Make eye contact with people around you. Lie on the grass and look at the clouds. Go for a walk and leave your phone at home, listen to the birds rather than your playlist.

I want to avoid having to get converted in a few years time. I’d prefer to be an early adopter of cultivating a healthy integration of digital living. Do I really need to watch those videos of people doing odd or crazy things? No. How much value does seeing fabricated selfies of people I hardly know actually add to my life? Zero. Can I absorb the information in posts from 100s of people in my social media feeds. Nup.

Do I love and like some people and can social media enhance my connectedness with them? You betcha. But that is a completely different proposition from the fear of missing out that has us giving more attention to our screens than the wonderful faces and hearts of people around us right now.