The Importance of Living.
From the book jacket:
A tremendous bestseller when it was first published in 1937, The Importance of Living has been a classic for over sixty years. Intended as an antidote to the dizzying pace of the modern world, Lin Yutang’s prescription is the classic distillation of ancient Chinese wisdom: revere inaction as much as action, invoke humor to maintain a healthy attitude, and never forget that will always be of fools around who are willing–indeed eager–to be busy, to make themselves useful, and to exercise power while you bask in the simple joy of existence.
Isn’t that appealing? And so very prescient, I think. I’m not sure what types of distractions the average working individual had to navigate through in 1937, but I can only presume that those distractions have not only multiplied but also grown in size like a marshmallow in a microwave since then. I will also presume that if you are reading this then you are likely using some sort of device to do so, and that device may also be a common source of distraction for you. When you finish reading this (and telling all your friends about it) I highly recommend placing your device on its device charger and enjoying a simpler, slower pleasure for the remainder of your evening.
These devices also wreak havoc on our postures, and, consequently, our overall health and wellbeing. Doctors have even given a name to this problem: text neck. Think about this, if you are standing perfectly erect, your cranium should put about 12 pounds of pressure on your spine. No big deal. But if your head and neck are in full flexion, which they often are to peruse a device, that same head is now putting up to 42 pounds of pressure on your spine! It’s like loading a catapult, only instead of hurling livestock at your enemies your making it more likely to suffer from a herniated disc.
And if you live in Chicago and take the el, amplify that 42 pounds of pressure with the bumps and sways of a moving train car. You can practically feel those intervertebral discs shimmying out from between your vertebrae.
I love my devices, though. I know there are many debates to be had about how often you should use your device and how healthy it is to spend time on social media, but I love them. I love that I can be connected to a billion other voices in the world through the portal in my pocket, and that all the knowledge of humankind is at my fingertips whenever I want it.
Every time somebody’s phone goes off in a quiet setting I’ve begun imagining a tiny string between that person’s device and the cloud containing our group consciousness, and the obnoxious little noise doesn’t bother me so much. I believe this would be in alignment with Yutang’s teachings. There’s no reason to get upset about something that ultimately is not harming you.
But seriously, turn off your phone in the movie theater. Even texting, with those bright screens, is such a distraction. I want to be in Wakanda not your Snapchat filter.
So start your journey to living simpler by living simpler. Put away your device. Until you can’t remember that one actor from that one movie. Then quickly use IMDb and put it back down again.