President’s Day Ponderings: The Power of Pings

[ping]

This morning, I was having a self-reflective moment, typing up some thoughts on my laptop, when my cellphone obnoxiously interjected its chipper PING into my reverie. I usually keep my phone on silent during the week, to keep it from distracting me at work, so when it’s on during the weekend that’s when I’m being social and interacting with friends. It’s logical that the sound normally triggers a brief pulse of excitement. I glance at my phone.

6:38 am. Charlotte Rousse. Last call! ALL DRESSES & SHOES $20 OR LESS! Ends tonight!

Ugh, I never shop here anymore. I tossed the Pixel back under my pillow. 5 minutes later:

6:44 am. MileagePlus Partner. Take home 1,500 miles when you dine out Who cares??

But this time, before thrusting my phone aside, I realized how I do this exact same routine with so many things in my life. Something or someone does something that bothers me a little bit, but my reaction is so minor and passes so quickly that I never bother addressing it. I don’t think it’s a terrible habit, and is something I think I’ve actually deliberately developed over time to have a more ‘chill’ persona that balances out my incredibly Type A personality, but what it means now is that I end up tolerating a lot of bullshit.

Let’s be clear. I am not a pushover by any means. If you wrong me or do something blatantly inappropriate or offensive, I’m not afraid to call you out on it. My mom jokes that I get my short temper and bluntness from my father, and the little kindness I have from her. Over time, I think I’ve grown more into my mother. Patient, forgiving, compassionate, and thoughtful–all traits I value and try to foster both in myself and other people. But, just in the last couple hours, my phone has pinged 12 times. Useless emails I never open and only irritate me. Facebook reminders that it’s people’s birthdays, which I’m sure are helpful for some but for a person like me who actively remembers her friends birthdays…. pretty useless. Instagram telling me someone posted a story for the first time in a long time.

So, why don’t I unsubscribe from these emails? Why don’t I turn off these notifications as soon as I get them? Why do I let certain people say or do things that very clearly bother me, but I just brush them off and wait for the annoyance to pass? The answer is probably both a flaw and a great skill– it’s the ability to compartmentalize and take these feelings and put them into a box and in the end I forget about it and it doesn’t really matter. Because honestly it doesn’t. People don’t usually mean to hurt me; these useless pings don’t actually hurt me; I like not dwelling on things and just moving on.

But I’m starting to realize putting things into a box requires energy, and I’ve developed a bad habit of putting everything that doesn’t need to be addressed, into a box. Work issues–yes I’ll deal with that. Fought with my best friend– of course I will deal with that too. But a white lie from a friend that I learn of from social media, or a reminder of a past encounter that I want to wipe from my memory forever, or knowing what my ex is doing… these are all things I could probably save a lot of my energy on. Because even though I put things in a box and forget them, I still have to deal with that brief moment of sadness. And why not get back those moments that could be moments of happiness instead?

Right before I wrote this post, I went in and unsubscribed from every single useless email sender. There were at least 15 on the list. And my phone has been wonderfully silent. I know I could go into my social media account settings and just disable notifications, but I’m curious to try a new exercise and just completely turn them all off. And for the week, just focus on living life in the present. I wonder how many moments of happiness I’ll get back.

Will report back.

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