How to Improve Your Happiness in 24 Hours
It was the second Tuesday in December. I was grumpy and couldn’t figure out why. My wife said hello to me when she got home from work and I barely responded. My face was in my phone. When she asked me what was wrong I just became dismissive and changed the subject.
I couldn’t figure out why I was in such a bad mood. Was it more than a bad mood? Was I having some type of asshole episode?? Through much personal discovery I have learned to stop and evaluate feelings like this as they happen. So I apologized to my wife and headed out to take a walk to clear my head.
As I got a few blocks away I began to think myself in circles trying to uncover the source of my frustration and anger.
Ten minutes of walking and still no luck. I then reached for my phone in my pocket. A brief moment of panic came over me as I realized I had forgotten it at home. “Wait a minute”, I thought to myself. “Why would the feeling of panic strike me when I simply left my phone back at the house? I could easily go get it. It would certainly be there when I got back. Why would the separation from my phone make me feel anxiety?” Then I realized what I wanted to do on my phone….
I wanted my phone to check the responses to my comments on a friends post on Facebook about the election. It was a fiery debate and I was going back and forth with this person I didn’t really know. The light bulb came on. Of all the ‘conversations’ I was having in person and virtually throughout the day, the moral and social debates had begun to be the dominant ones in my life. Things (the thoughts and beliefs of others) clearly beyond my control were having an impact on my emotional well-being. Worse yet, they were having an impact on my family. Was this possible? Was Facebook the source of my emotional discord? There was only one way to find out.
I promptly altered my course and headed home. When I got there I went straight for my phone. This time, I had a different mission. I went to my apps, long-pressed on Facebook and dragged it the top of my screen where it said “uninstall”. I decided that I was going to take a break. Disconnect. Live in real life. The message popped up on my phone “Do you want to uninstall this app?” I clicked “OK” and immediately felt different. The simple act of deleting the app actually gave me a positive feeling.
For the next 24 hours I kept looking around in my phone for the Facebook app before my brain reminded me that I had deleted it. Regardless of this recollection, without thinking I would poke around looking for it every other time I picked up my phone. After a few hours I began to do other things. I was already feeling a cloud lifting off of my soul. I was doing things I had not done in a while like go to the natural spring around the corner to fill water bottles and call people to talk.
My mood was changing. I was becoming happier. Finally after a few weeks Facebook free I decided to download the app so I could share a cute photo of my son on the private group that only our family has access to. So I downloaded it and cringed as the notifications popped up. There were over one hundred of them… I uploaded the photo and quickly closed the app. After a few minutes I got the urge to read my Facebook news feed. That lasted about six minutes. I had already noticed a frown was forming on my face so I once again found the app and dragged it to it’s doom.
Before writing this article, I had the re-downloaded the Facebook app on my phone. I had trained myself not to mindlessly browse the news feed but I still found myself tapping it by default when I was bored or even when I was busy with tasks that were far more important. So in the middle of writing this article I deleted it again. Once again, the moment I hit “OK” approving it’s dismissal, I felt something positive.
It’s not Facebook itself. It’s the conversations we get in through written means that seem to lead to arguments more often than they would if we had them in real life. Missing the ability to tell through body language what someone means sometimes causes us to misinterpret what others are trying to say. In addition, our words can be more hurtful when people are reading them than if we were saying them. The difference is that we read the comments that hurt us over and over again. Each time growing more and more angry making our brain try to come up with an equally hurtful retort that will get enough likes from folks who agree with us to justify our argument to ourselves.
So that’s it, in just 24 hours I became happier and you can too. Even if you don’t delete Facebook or Twitter or whatever means of engaging in flame wars you utilize, you should exercise restraint and refrain from commenting online. If you find yourself mentally unable from doing so, I might suggest you go ahead dust off the old app graveyard. You will feel differently, I promise.