How we choose to use technology can shape our mental health
A healthy relationship with our phones and computers can help us be happier.
Happy new year! How have you been? I hope well. :)
You may have noticed this newsletter has taken on a new format and layout. I’ve decided to start the new year with a fresh new look and content via Substack.
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An attitude of gratitude in every facet of life
Do you have “an attitude problem?” When people say that a person has “an attitude problem” they often mean that their personality is negative, difficult, or just plain mean. But when I say you have “an attitude problem,” I’m referring to the attention you place your attitude on. If there’s any attitude you should be having, it’s an attitude of gratitude.
Gratitude has been proven to positively impact our mental health and wellbeing. Whether it’s internal gratitude that you don’t share with anyone else, or an explicit thanks to a friend or family member, gratitude interventions (like thank you letters or writing in a gratitude journal) change our brains for the better and make us happier beings.
But often our day-to-day lives cause us to lose focus on our gratitude attitude. We get caught up in the challenges of the day. We let our emotions, comparisons, and lack of time be an excuse. We tell ourselves tomorrow we’ll take the time to write in our journal, call a friend, or send a thank you note…But tomorrow comes and life gets in the way again.
Adding gratitude back through technology
One of those life roadblocks you often face is also the thing that can be leveraged to add more gratitude into your life, not less.
It’s that thing that dings and buzzes and lights up without your control. That thing that gets that dopamine loop started. That thing you somehow always have time to look at…
That’s right. I’m talking about your phone. Your computer. Your tablet. Whichever technology you prefer. You’re already on it all the time, so why not put it to good use?
In fact, a recent study did just that. Researchers discovered that when we use our phones to give thanks, whether that’s through private conversations with ourselves, one-on-one conversations with others, or in public settings like social media, we see increases in happiness.
If we want to improve social connection, we need to show gratitude. According to the study, the best way to increase connection and happiness for you and the recipient is to send a text message.
A text message. That’s it. It’s that easy. And for most people these days, it’s free. That means free boosts of oxytocin and warm fuzzy feelings coursing through those veins!
Next steps for happier beings
Stop scrolling aimlessly through your social media feeds. Instead, interact with your connections. Comment on a friend’s post, or better yet, direct message them to show your appreciation or share a moment of human connection.
Set daily or weekly reminders to reach out to your loved ones. Again, even just a simple text checking in on them can make a world of difference for the both of you.
Develop a gratitude journal habit. You can free write or you can do the three good things exercise (write down or type three things you are grateful for that day, doesn’t have to be anything largely significant. Ex. Went for a nice walk today. Bought my favorite fruit at the grocery store…etc)
Download apps that enhance your wellbeing and replace ones that detract from it. Consider meditation apps like Waking Up or Headspace.
Content for happier beings
Here’s a very cool visualization of the cognitive bias index and related Wikipedia links.
I recently watched the documentary Stutz on Netflix. The tools that therapist Phil Stutz uses in his therapy sessions are excellent!
New research from Pew Research Center finds that regardless of where you stand politically, spending time with family and friends likely brings you meaning and fulfillment.
That’s all for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this new format. Please feel free to hit reply and let me know what you think. What would you like to see more of in these newsletters? What questions do you have about mental health and happiness?
As always, I’m here for you.
Dr. Tal Leead, Psy.D.
“Anyone can take an unpleasant experience and turn it into an opportunity.”
– Phil Stutz
This was a wonderful read!!!