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Look up Living in our presents

When is the last time you looked a stranger in the eye and smiled? Opened the door for a stranger or let a car back up or turn in front of you?

A little over a year ago I happened upon a YouTube video titled ‘Look Up.’ A five minute production by British writer and film maker Gary Turk. The clip has over 200 million views worldwide (over 53 million thru YouTube). The short film encourages viewers via a rhythmic speech set to music and imagery to step away from technology and be more present.

Naturally at the time of viewing I ‘shared’ it on my own personal social media page and took a day or two to do exactly as it prescribed – live true presence. The trouble with addiction, is the person struggling with the dependency or habit is usually the last one to see it. Loved ones may try to gently hint or challenge the person to acknowledge said struggle but often it takes time and trial for the addicted to see.

Even the most ‘healthy’ of persons can find themselves sucked into the addiction of social media.

For many, this may sound pathetic or unimaginable; most addictions do. The fact of the matter, however, is in a day and age of growing social networking and tools, it is becoming more and more common. So much so, that morning news broadcasts have hosted segments around it, research groups have studied the ‘why’ and information regarding the addiction continues to be prevalent and expansive.

So what does all this have to do with a column space titled ‘Fitness and Beyond?’ Perhaps this is the ‘beyond’ portion, understanding and identifying where we may struggle mentally. Some turn to food, substances or other options to handle stress, insecurity or to feel in control and some … social media.

One study by researchers in Norway developed a scale outlining six basic criteria for addiction including: time spent thinking about social media, an urge to use it more and more, using as avoidance from real life, unsuccessful attempts to reduce usage, restless if unable to access and negative effects on employment or school work.

Why this topic? Why now?

Simple, as a mom, a friend, a daughter and a partner to a man I love with all my heart now is not the time to spend life through the camera of my smart phone to share with my social media friends. As children are taking to parades and neighborhoods in Halloween costumes, turkeys will be carved with loved ones and stockings ripped open with anticipation. Now is the time to ‘look up.’ Now is the time to re-create old habits and live in the present. Not the ‘present’ of our ‘friends,’ but the gift or our own presence.

In the wise words of Mary-Frances Winters, “Don’t become too preoccupied with what is happening around you. Pay more attention to what is going on within you.”

Lastly and most importantly, if you identify with any of the six items listed in the study, release your resistance. Allow yourself to be a new healthy. Your presence is the greatest gift you can give those who love you not just for the holiday season, but for life.

Life after all, is “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get,” Forrest Gump. Enjoy!