In the 21st century, it can often feel like our lives are being managed by devices and habits that we previously never had to even consider. Don't get me wrong---social media, Wifi, smart phones and tablets are wonderful inventions, but there comes a point when we have to ask if our rhythms are dictated by us---or by the so-called "needs" that have been ostensibly manufactured for us.
Is It A True Need?
Twenty years ago, most of us probably couldn't even imagine that we would one day be carrying instant access to the Internet in our pockets, and that we would be able to easily share any aspect of our lives with as many people as we could manage to reach with the click of a button.
While it's fun to post pictures from the beach in Mexico for your friends in Alaska to see in real time, the "need" that we feel to do this is a need that has truly been manufactured by the development of the appropriate technology, not to mention a new societally agreed upon norm that this is what we want to do (and, in many cases, are expected to do).
Many of us, myself included, can often feel naked without our technology in ready reach, and if we can't check our email or post to Facebook, we somehow feel that we're missing out. But aren't we sometimes missing out on what's right in front of us because we're busy on social media or checking our inbox?
I try my best to determine if I'm posting because I want to---and not because I feel that I need to---but I honestly can't always tell the difference between the two.
Wants and needs meld together in this day and age, so how do we find our own rhythm when we don't even know what our rhythm is anymore?
Being Thoughtful About Our Time
For me, I find that there's a thoughtfulness about the use of my time that needs to be in the forefront of my mind.
When I come home from a nice weekend camping, I often feel compelled to upload my photos from my camera to my computer, edit the photos, and get them up onto Facebook as soon as I can, so that my friends can see what we did over the weekend. But I have to stop and ask myself why I feel compelled to do such a thing, and whether I'm doing it because I actually want to. Will my friends be negatively impacted if the photos are posted several days later? Will I lose sleep if they don't get uploaded right away?
It's about being authentic and honoring my own rhythms. Perhaps, when coming home from that camping trip, it would mean more to knock on my neighbor's door, give her a hug, let her know I'm home, and thank her for watering our plants. Maybe it would feel much more natural if I drew a bath, started the laundry, and called my father to say hello and ask about his weekend. Or maybe I just need a nap after the long drive home.
If I'm thoughtful about my time, I can find my own rhythm, letting go of compulsion and habit, thus leaving space to do the things I want to do, not the things I feel beholden to do.
Your Rhythm Is Yours Alone
Your rhythm is yours alone. It's not owned or manufactured by Facebook, TV, the newspaper, your neighbors or your friends. You know what you need to do and what you truly want to do.
At any given moment, we have so many choices as to how to spend our precious energy and time. We can feel battered by the number of choices, and also by the ways in which our culture compels us to do things that don't necessarily feed us in the way we want to be fed.
True, social media keeps us connected with friends and loved ones around the world, and I use it daily. However, we can't allow these habits to supercede that which will most enrich our lives at any given moment.
So, honor your individual rhythm and find the ways in which you can be fully present in your life. And when you act from habit, assess that habit, and ask if it truly meets your needs. If not, change that habit into a conscious choice, and your ability to honor your own rhythm will be exponentially increased.