In 1998, a friend and I took an amazing trip to China. One of the most fascinating moments was when we walked out of the airport terminal and saw all the people on cell phones. Cell phones were just taking off in the United States. I don’t think any of us realized just how much they would invade our lives.
Now cell phones are everywhere. We’re glued to them night and day. My 16-year-old nephew seems obsessed with his and a couple of my friends admit to sleeping with theirs.
Checking Facebook after Thanksgiving showed countless dinner tables surrounded by people whose eyes were glued to their cell phones.
Events are often tainted by endless texts, selfies, status updates, videos, notifications and incoming and outgoing phone calls. Distractions that make us forget what should be truly important in our lives.
Christmas is in four days. A holy time of year when we gather with people we love. Don’t let technology steal precious moments from your gathering. Be present, be aware of the people in your life:
Limit distractions: Technology off. The world can wait. Be firm, be bold; you can do it.
Eye contact: It’s been said that your eyes are the windows to your soul. Giving eye contact lets people know they’re being heard.
Listening to understand instead of listening to respond: You aren’t really listening if you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next. Tune into the person’s words and hear how they say them. Make the connection and listen.
Facial expressions: When you listen to someone and hear them, the expression on your face reflects it. It communicates you understand how they’re feeling. We all want to feel understood.
Instead of games on your phone, how about board games, puzzles, good conversations, laughter and sharing old memories and making new ones.
As I gather with my family this Christmas, I will turn my cell phone off and tune into the people around me. I hope you will do the same.
To be with the ones we love most not just physically but emotionally and spiritually is worth more than any gift you’ll give or receive this year. This holiday season, give presence.
The road is easier together,