Unplug for Happiness

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How many times a day do you look at your phone? Start counting and the number may depress you. According to Time magazine, the average person looks at his or her phone 46 times a day. (Full article here.)

As a Technology Coordinator, it might surprise you that I strongly support limiting screen time. Study after study shows that time spent in front of devices like smartphones and tablets directly impacts your happiness. In summary, more time spent on Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, text messaging, and other online forms of communication makes you feel sadder, less satisfied with your life, and interestingly, more lonely.

Even more alarming, The Atlantic just published an article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” which underscores the detrimental impact screens have taken on post-millennials. This generation doesn’t date, doesn’t hang out in person, doesn’t care about getting a driver’s license or a part-time job or going to the mall alone with their friends.

What do they care about? “It sometimes bugs me when I don’t get a certain amount of likes on a picture” says 13-year-old Athena. “I’ve been on my phone more than I’ve been with actual people,” she said. “My bed has, like, an imprint of my body.” The article strongly concludes that “There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness” and here we have a generation more plugged in than ever. (Full article here.)

So, how do you unplug for happiness? How do you ignore the siren’s song of likes, loves, and comments, the photos of your friend’s latest micro brewery trip, the constant churn of political news? It’s easier than you think.

  1. Get an alarm clock. First of all, if you rely on your smartphone to wake you up each morning, STOP! Get yourself a traditional alarm clock. A study from the Braun Research Center and Bank of America shows more people think about their phones than their significant others when they first wake up. If you’re guilty of browsing Facebook right before bed and checking your messages the moment you wake up, keep your phone out of reach. Better yet? Keep it out of the bedroom.
  2. Give your phone a home. Quit carrying your phone in your pocket and keeping your tablet within arm’s reach. Designate a basket or drawer for your devices when you’re at home, and leave them there. Without the temptation of your phone buzzing in your pocket or your tablet lighting up on the coffee table, you’ll find it much easier to unplug.
  3. Start small. Set achievable goals for yourself. No one can go from phone junky to unplugged zen master overnight. Start off with a small amount of time for unplugging, perhaps an hour a day. The next week, increase to two hours. Leave your phone in the car when you’re out shopping. Go for a long walk each day and leave your phone at home. Be as kind to yourself as possible, and reward good behavior. You won’t enjoy long-term success if you make unplugging a punishment. Did you get through dinner without looking at your phone? Treat yourself! Buy a book. Go out for an ice cream.
  4. Have a plan. So your phone is in the other room… Now what? If you sit there counting the cracks in the ceiling, you’ll never stop thinking about what’s going on in the online world. Fear of Missing Out is a real thing (Hey, it has a Wikipedia entry!). If you don’t keep yourself busy, the temptation to check your phone will be unbearable. Make a list of things to do while unplugged and use it.

You can also take a look at The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World by Nancy Colier or The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer.

Happy unplugging! 🙂

Technology Help – Need device advice? Come to Drop-in Tech Help. No appointment necessary. We provide help with smartphones, laptops, tablets, ereaders, email, Facebook, social media, and more! Check out the calendar for our next session.

Build a Better Backyard

The concept of Outdoor Rooms isn’t new.  The idea of expanding living space to the exterior of our homes has been around a while but planning and building an outdoor space can be a challenge!

Nowadays there are some pretty lavish outdoor areas: multi-tiered decks, anything-but-square patios, gazebos, pergolas, paths, benches, bowers–you name it! Outdoor kitchens are trending in many backyards as families “add” onto their homes by incorporating the space around their houses into three-season living areas.

Getting outside is good for you. Disconnecting from your devices is healthy and there’s no more relaxing place than your own backyard.

If you need  inspiration, check out some of our newest titles on creating outdoor living spaces:

She sheds : a room of your own / Erika Kotite

Happy home outside : everyday magic for outdoor life / Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau

Backyard building : treehouses, sheds, arbors, gates and other garden projects / Jeanie & David Stiles

Gardens are for living : design inspiration for outdoor spaces / by Judy Kameon

Shed decor : how to decorate & furnish your favorite garden room / Sally Coulthard

Simple & stylish backyard projects / Anna & Anders Jeppsson

Porches & outdoor spaces / CountryLiving

Colorful Workplaces

If you have been following our adventures in color, you may recall a previous post showing off the bright colors in the children’s room.  Well, the color revolution is continuing at Cheshire Public Library. Recently, we bid goodbye to the dull beige walls (dubbed “library paste white” by the staff) of the hallways around our offices  and added some color.

Our offices are in the basement of the library and windows are few. These wonderful colors have perked up the place considerably. Mint green. Golden yellow. Light blue. It’s a big improvement! Who says workplaces have to be dull?

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After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the color revolution! Whether you are decorating your office or your home, you can get started with these titles:

A Colorful Home: Create Lively Palettes for Every Room by Susan Hable.
Create dynamic palettes, and translate them into stunning interior spaces.

Color: The Perfect Shade for Every Room by Lisa Cregan.
Select the perfect hue for any room, create modern twists on traditional colors, experiment with colors you might never have considered, and more!

1001 Ideas for Color and Paint by Emma Callery.
Ideas range from contemporary treatments to traditional looks, in everything from bold colors to pretty pastels.

Crafting a Colorful Home: A Room by Room Guide to Personalizing Your Space with Color by Kristen Nicholas.
Learn how to make your home sing through handmade crafts and a bold use of color.

The Right Color by Eve Ashcraft.
The science of color, the language of color, finding your home’s palette, where to begin, inspirations for a palette and more!

Seeking Rest in a Busy World

Rest is hard to find. Our homes, schools, and public places are filled with sound and activities. People talk, electronic devices ping, beep, and trill. Machines hum. We are plugged in 24/7.

Our lives have become a hive of constant connection. We are never alone! And quiet time is so necessary for well-being. A recent study looked at the benefits of time alone. It turns out, even extroverts need alone time and that time spent alone makes people feel more rested, which contributes to their well-being.

james_tissot_-_quietAnd the activities that people in the study found the most restful?
1. Reading.
2. Being in a natural environment.
3. Time spent alone.

So grab a book and head outside for some quality alone time. It’s good for body and soul.

 

Want to know more about the benefits of rest? Try these titles. Just want to relax? Check out the downloadable music suggestions at the end of this post. For a full list of relaxation resources, click here.

jacket-aspxSilence : the power of quiet in a world full of noise / Thich Nĥát Hạnh. (Hardcover)
One of the world’s most beloved teachers and Zen masters shares a profound, concise, and practical guide to understanding and developing our most powerful inner resource—silence—to help us find happiness, purpose, and peace.

jacket-aspxThe art of stillness : adventures in going nowhere / Pico Iyer. (Hardcover)
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.

jacket-aspxStillness speaks / Eckhart Tolle. (ebook)
If you connect to the stillness within, you move beyond your active mind and emotions and discover great depths of lasting peace, contentment, and serenity.

 

 

jacket-aspxRelaxation revolution : enhancing your personal health through the science and genetics of mind body healing / Herbert Benson and William Proctor. (Downloadable Audiobook)
Using the mind to quiet the body not only eases stress, it actually alters the activity of thousands of genes, promoting wellness. Science now proves that relaxation not only changes how a patient feels physically and emotionally, it has the power to transform genes, molecules, cells, and other physiological functions to relieve a variety of afflictions.

vector-musical-1Downloadable Music

Positive thinking, vol. 1 – music for meditation, relaxation & yoga

Guided meditation guided relaxation & guided imagery for the body and mind

Classical music for relaxation vol.1

Spa music: relaxing music for massage therapy, spa, yoga, stress relief, meditation and sleeping

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Help for New Years Resolutions

new-years-resolutionsEveryone has good intentions at the start of a new year, and why not? A new year is a great time for a new beginning. If you need help with some of your New Year resolutions, it’s the perfect time to take a look at lynda.com.

lynda.com is an online learning site with over 3,000 courses that’s available to all Cheshire Library cardholders. Login from the library’s website!

Here are some suggested courses to get you started on your new year! To view the courses in-depth, grab your library card and head over to our eLearning page where you can login to lynda.com.

smileHappiness Tips: (Weekly Tips)
Get a new happiness tip every Monday to help you live a happier life. Learn practical, actionable techniques for finding more time for the things you love and maximizing your day-to-day happiness.

moneyPersonal Finance Tips: (Weekly Tips)
Each week, receive a new tip, designed to help you make smart decisions about your money.

5 Personal Finance Tips: 9 minutes, 18 seconds.
This short course provides time-tested tips on managing your spending, managing your fixed costs (regular monthly expenses), creating a budget, investing, and saving money.

face-sad-sweatingManaging Stress: 21 minutes, 2 seconds.
With the right techniques, you can reduce the amount of stress in your life. In this short course, author and retired MBA professor Dr. Todd Dewett shares his tips for managing stress, including identifying your triggers, managing responses, and making positive personal choices.

thumbs_upDisrupting Yourself: 24 minutes, 28 seconds.
Disrupting yourself is the secret to breaking into a new field, never settling for less, and achieving more. In this course, author, Harvard Business Review blogger, and consultant Whitney Johnson walks you through her seven-step model to disrupt yourself and move to the next level in your career.

power_fist_Powerless to Powerful: Taking Control: 60 minutes.
In this course, executive coach and LinkedIn’s head of organizational development Fred Kofman helps you make the choice to embrace life’s challenges, to go from victim to hero, and shows how to help others do the same through support and coaching.

push_back_timeManaging Your Time: 11 minutes, 11 seconds.
Learn four time-management tips that help everyone from busy executives to new employees get more out of their work day.

Time Management Tips: 43 minutes, 1 second.
Learn about everything from managing emails and calendars to setting priorities, reducing interruptions, crafting a “productivity mindset,” and creating a more comfortable and effective work environment.

chakra-meditationMindfulness: 1 hour, 16 minutes.
UCLA professor and executive coach John Ullmen, PhD, explains the fundamentals of mindfulness and provides step-by-step methods that anyone can use.

aide-memoireImproving Your Memory: 1 hour, 29 minutes.
This fascinating course explains how and when to employ tricks such as mnemonic devices, rhymes, stories, and alliteration. And it explains the best methods for different situations, like remembering names, important dates, passwords, to-do lists, quotes, and more.