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Technology in Life

Today may be a day like every other day — consisting of our daily routines like pressing a button on our coffee machines, running the kids to school, attending the occasional meeting and the frequent checking of our phones. We may not realise it, but technology today has such an omnipresenceand has changed the way we function in our everyday lives.  We use our devices around 50% more than we did ten years ago, thus it is incredible what we have managed to achieve in such a short space of time. It is crazy how it all seems so conventional now, but we have come a long way since the catastrophic internet dial-up tone we all remember from the 90’s, as well as the five minutes it took for a webpage to load. Now, we can easily get over a million results on a search in less than a second and wirelessly transfer items from one device to the next, and even to our cars. Technology is amazing; however, it does have its drawbacks.

One of the biggest advantages if technology is its ease of use and convenience. It is easy to get to grips with, and when we use them, we save a lot of time and energy in our day, even when we are doing the most tedious of activities like the food shop. The saying, “Time is money” could not ring any truer, especially now more than ever before in light of the world’s current financial crises. However, with that in mind, we spend less time doing tedious everyday things, but spend more time interacting with technology instead, so what has happened in the time we have made up in the real world, but lost to the virtual world?

Grace Roche for Cuvva.com discusses the profound effects of technology on our everyday lives, explaining one of the biggest disadvantages of technology is how we are relying too much upon having easy and instantaneous access to everything we may desire. The use of technology has literally given us the power to have the world in the palm of our hands; from ordering our food and clothes to be delivered to our doors and getting artificial intelligence to do it for us.  The ease, accessibility and speed at which we are provided with what we want from companies and devices means we are receiving instant gratification which can ultimately and inevitably lead to us all becoming less patient and to some extent more frustrated when we don’t receive what we desire when expected or when done manually.

Psychology has long delved into gratification across the lifespan, more specifically though, the focus has shifted along with the new technological era and is now taking into consideration how it is impacting our relationships with others. Jim Taylor Ph.D notes in his article for Psychology Today that technology has also redefined our meaning of relationships, as such Pomerantz (2013) explores this further in her dissertation on ‘Attachment and Delayed Gratification in the Technological Age’. She acknowledges that we interact in a different way than we did in the past and as such we have created a new way to keep communicating with others and express our needs virtually, with “Generation Y” using it to their advantage to enhance feelings of comfort and minimise feels of negatively skewed feeling and emotions. In a sense, we are now able to turn our backs or disconnect when we feel uncomfortable, take for instance the ending of a phone call during a heated discussion or avoiding a message. On a positive note, the means by which we are connected now allow us to think freer and be more responsible in what we let others think and how they perceive us. As such, messaging has since become associated with the euphoric feeling of feeling loved or highly valued. However, this also signifies the lines between virtual and reality may have become blurred and we may have lost touch with how we would react if someone were to say the same things in person (Walsh, White and Young, 2008).Furthermore, in our modern day and age, it is easy for us to become tangled in the web and quite literally too. We are all a part of the World Wide Web in one way or another, as such via social media or through the press in some way. We read the news, connect and scroll through our timelines, and even sometimes express our lives and opinions on it. It is an everyday necessity now. So much so, we have begun unable to separate the real world from our virtual ideals and social media entities. Our true realities can be blinded by the eye-catching headlines and glamorous paparazzi snaps, evading the truth behind the screen and misconstruing what is really going on in our lives and the world. As such, you can feel envious and that you should be doing something far greater than what you are doing. Whilst for many of us this may be the case due to our ambition and wanting to better our lives, for others it is because they have viewed something on the internet, and they wish to be like someone else and are thus wanting to live in someone else’s false sense of reality. Believably, it is easy for us to look at something and base an opinion on it, whether it be a judgement of them, or in comparison of ourselves.

Whilst the instantaneous access allows us to be constantly aware of the world around us, it can also mean we are at a heightened state of fear and apprehension. Technology and social media have also elevated and influenced the fear of missing out, or commonly known as ‘FOMO’ in today’s society. We are relying upon the media and the internet to tell us what to do and how to get there, without consideration to real life circumstances or emotions. As such, we are more unhappy in our lives and surroundings than ever before and BBC Scotland has found it is because we are focusing on all the things we feel aren’t controllablebut really and truly are, if we only disconnected from technology for a mere second. What is more, we are also in what has been aptly named the “loneliness epidemic”,Alice G. Watson explains our dependence on our phones and in particular our interactions with social media have heightened our feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially when viewing or being a part of negative interactions online.

So how can we combat these feelings and help our interactions with the real world?

We must first look at the bigger picture, our phones and technology are an essential to our day to day lives, but not an essential part of our existence. We are more than a collection of photos and statuses, and our self-worth is not determined by the likes or how many followers we have. In the real world we make connections by talking to people, we first learn the little things about them and then we delve into the deeper conversations, getting to know one another piece by piece. Our devices help us to ask the difficult questions as we can hide behind a screen, making it easier to talk to one another as previously mentioned, but when it comes to face to face contact make sure you don’t back out of love, even when it may be scary or you might be uncomfortable.

If we took a step back from technology, and limited our usage, therefore only using it as and when needed, we could be happier and find we are leading more of a meaningful life. By being able to disconnect we are able to reconnect to ourselves and realign our feelings in accordance to who we wish to be and not who we see or want others to see. According to Forbes when we engage in real social connection (face-to-face) and make a conscious effort to be surrounded by others physically and not our devices, we perceive our activities to be more meaningful and consequently we feel more fulfilled and happier. 

Of course, the times will change and a new wave of technology will soon be available, but we can’t let a false sense of reality make us lose sight of who and what we love and appreciate. Whilst technology may have changed the way we communicate, and as it stands most of our “interpersonal interactions have become imbued with an immediacy and connectedness unrelated to physical proximity". We must never let it completely void all face-to-face conversation, as without it we won’t feel or get raw emotion and understand others. Part of life is being able to understand where we are going wrong and where we are going right, perhaps in our relationships or perhaps even in our work. Technology doesn’t have to rule our lives in every domain as we must always remember, things aren’t always as they seem, and we cannot predict everything. Think of your device as a view into someone’s view of themselves, you will only see what they want you to see, and it is most likely a false image. Happiness, fulfilment or opportunities will not come from comparing, or being stationary behind a computer screen.

Thus, our message is to not become tangled in what you see, your happiness lies within you, from understanding yourself, knowing who you are and your capabilities, learning to be kind to yourself and making meaningful connections. You will know what you want, and even better you will know how to get there.

5 Ways Mindfulness Can Enhance Your Connection With Your Partner 

Mindfulness is a lifestyle, rather than a life choice, and where better to apply it than the most important aspect of your life - your relationships.  Research has shown that more mindful individuals have higher relationship quality. Here are five tips and mindfulness techniques that will help enhance your connection with your partner and improve your love life:

1.Active listening  

Active listening is a mindfulness technique that is often misunderstood. It sounds fairly obvious, but when was the last time you stopped, took a pause and actually listened to what your partner was saying, instead of mentally formulating your next response? Listening actively means fully concentrating on what is being said, rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. There is a big difference between hearing and listening that often goes overlooked in everyday conversation. Next time you’re talking to your partner make a conscious decision to listen to and understand the message they are trying to get across. It may surprise you. 

2. Presence 

Following on from this, active listening helps to make the user more presentin the conversation. Too often we get stuck thinking about what has happened and what will happen, as opposed to what is happening right now. Regular mindfulness practice changes the areas of the brain associated with directing attention and focus, which helps us get better at concentrating on the present moment. This is vital in appreciating what your partner is doing in the now, as opposed to colouring their behaviour with or comparing it to their historical actions or your expectations. Appreciating your partner goes a long way, as positive interactions are the basis upon which liking grows and love blossoms. 

3. Verbal Communication

Communicating that appreciation is vital to a successful relationship. It is much easier to vocalise distaste than appreciation, and much harder to accurately express what was intended when clouded by anger or frustration. Communicating mindfully means being conscious of your words and their effect on your partner. Words spoken in a moment of anger can cause long term and deep hurt, even if they weren’t meant. Consider replacing accusations such as “you never” or “you always” with “I feel” and “I would like”. These phrases steer you away from the blame game and help to focus on your own feelings – whilst communicating to your partner that you’re willing to see both sides of the discussion. As well as communicating your feelings mindfully, putting yourself in their shoes and exhibiting understanding and empathy go a long way too.   

4. Self awareness

Communicating your emotions accurately and mindfully also feeds into self awareness, and being aware of where your emotions are coming from. If you find yourself getting irritated with your partner after coming home from a busy, hassled day at work, you can perhaps ask yourself if your frustrations are indeed coming from them, or being influenced by outside forces. Perception is vital to human experience and one of the few things we can control. Clear your head and make sure you are being fair to your partner. They should be a supportive sounding board, not a verbal punch bag. 

5. Stop and breathe

Finally, stop and breathe. There are a multitude of mindfulness techniques surrounding breathing and their importance cannot be understated. Taking a few long deep breaths and counting to 5 on each inhale and exhale can be enough to clear your head, displace anger to think clearly and totally change your perspective. Breathing reduces anxiety and stress, and calms the heart rate. For a process that is required for human survival, it is something many of us don’t pay enough active attention to.   

References 

https://www.londonmindful.com/blog/5-mindfulness-tips-for-a-happier-relationship/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201706/five-ways-mindfulness-makes-your-relationship-happier

https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/5-mindfulness-techniques-that-will-improve-your-relationships-and-make-you-a-bet.html

https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/c8fe6e_65448e5da9754a6c8676f179d07067d1.pdf

Sometimes its easier to lock up than let love in

You’re in the first stages of a new love. Your heart is racing, palms are sweating, and you’re finding it hard to think about anything other than them. As much as you try to stop them, they run through your mind and tug at your thoughts. Your concentration goes out the window. The deeply buried optimist in you starts to wonder - could this finally be it? Hope - wonderful, terrifying hope starts to build inside of you. Should you let it? 

And that’s when the doubt sets in. 

Love, to those who have been hurt in the past, is like a war. Imagine a castle, with two fearsome armies laying siege on either side, each trying to break through to the heart locked in the dungeons below. Half of you wants to believe that this could be it – you know theoretically that you are deserving of love, and you know for certain that you have love to give. You know that love is what you want, what you have always wanted, and yet- 

Are they right for you? Are you right for them? You pick them apart trying to find reasons not to let them in, and when you are looking, you will always find something. They have an annoying habit that you couldn’t possibly put up with for the rest of your life in wedded matrimony. It’s almost a relief to find something – for it’s far easier to shut someone out than to let someone in.  It is easier to wallow in the familiar misery of disappointment than let yourself believe that this person could, maybe, actually make you happy.

Trust is a difficult skill to learn, and an even more difficult one to master. But it starts with making a leap of faith. It requires an intelligence – knowing who is worthy of your faith and who isn’t. You can never know for certain if you don’t try. Maybe they will let you down – or maybe they won’t. And really what’s the worst that could happen? You’ve survived every heartbreak you’ve had so far and come out stronger. 

Maybe they aren’t perfect. We can swipe to find the next one, never moving forward, placating ourselves with superficial connections and endless first dates. Convince ourselves that we really are trying, our eyes firmly on the greener grass on the distant other side. We forget that we have to work to build relationships, which are getting harder and harder to build with each day that passes. In a disconnected society constantly exposed to perfection, we see celebrity couples living idealistic lives on screen, look at ourselves and wonder what we’re doing wrong. But nothing is ever perfect. Real love is built on compromise and trust – seeing your partners flaws and accepting them anyway. Imagine how it would feel for someone to love not only your picture-perfect side but all the worst things about you too. 

In the end, completely unconditional and trusting love is worth the risk of heartbreak. So, what have you got to lose? 

Summer loving happened so fast, summer loving did it last?

The weather warms up, we spend more time outdoors, more time with our friends and we’re exposed to more people.  The chances of meeting someone surge but will that increase the likelihood of finding a long term committed relationship?  Warm weather has been known to influence human behaviour, with a particular demonstration in the context of increasing aggression (Anderson et al, 2000) but is there any impact when it comes to romantic relationships and if so how long does it last? 

Temperatures rise in the summer months (British weather permitting!) and so do the number of age-old summer romances. Summer romances are renowned for being short and sweet, but can they stand the test of time? Quickly established, summer romances can often seem like a whirlwind and with the indirect impact of warmer weather increasing mood, couples frequently overlook any red flags under the pretence of its summer fun. However, any romantic link has the potential to go the distance, whether that connection be made in the summer months or winter and with potential can come relationships.  This can be shown at the point where summer is drawing to a close. 

Known to some as the ‘cuffing season’ - the period during the autumn and winter months in which singletons are most likely to seek a serious relationship, and therefore the point where summer romances are either moved swiftly into relationships or cooled off. Summer romances are now under scrutiny, is this person someone you can see a relationship with, do they want the same? Its important to remember that you shouldn’t rush into a new relationship simply because you do not want to be alone but equally as important to give people the opportunity to show who they really are, as opposed to labelling them as a ‘summer fling’, when in fact there could be great potential for it to move forward. 

In conclusion, residual effects of good weather can trickle into how we feel and consequently impact how we approach potential relationships. With a positive attitude and an increase in contact with possible partners, there is likely to be an increase in the chance of a relationship. Whether that relationship lasts through the ‘cuffing season’ completely depends on the dynamic you have with your partner, something that is irrespective of the time of year. It’s important to remember that long term relationships can form through a range of ways, whether that be from friendship, slow burners or summer romances. They key is to give love a chance, however it first presents itself. 

 

References 

Anderson, C. A., Anderson, K. B., Dorr, N., DeNeve, K. M., & Flanagan, M. (2000). Temperature and aggression. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 32, pp. 63-133). Academic Press.

Set relationship goals

When it comes to relationships, many people expect fate to throw them in the path of their perfect partner. More people fail to make a relationship work because they think romance should ‘just happen’ than for any other reason. The fact is, people who are successful at maintaining an amazing relationship are proactive and positive about it. Somehow it doesn’t seem ‘sexy’ to think about goal-setting in terms of relationships. We grow up reading fairy tales such as Cinderella, we watch romantic movies, and at no point does the romantic lead ever sit down and write a list of relationship goals – it doesn’t fit the romantic image we dream of. The irony is, setting relationship goals is the best way to create your ‘happy ever after’. In every other area of your life in which you want to achieve something you would set goals, make plans and take action, so why should romance be any different?

Be clear about what you want from your partner and relationship

Start by defining a few key needs you’re not prepared to compromise on in your partner or relationship. It might be trust, kindness or a sense of fun, for example. Then think further about your key preferences in terms of the lifestyle you would like to have. This is not about creating a ‘made to order’ list of requirements, but about being clear about what you want – and what you don’t want.

Set goals: what do you want to achieve?

Do you long to go out more with your partner? Have more fun together? Create more intimacy? Develop more common interests or a particular lifestyle? Improve communication within the relationship? Get married and have children? Be clear about not just the type of relationship you would like to have, but also your vision of the future and how you would like your relationship to be.

Plan for your goals using the SMART approach (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound). Will you create date nights, factor in more time to talk, or make more time for intimacy? Whatever you decide, make sure your plans are SMART so that you can make yourself accountable and track progress.

Take action

Whatever you plan, make sure that you now take action. Make it happen. Taking action towards your goals will give you a magnetic energy which will draw the two of you together. Take steps towards your goals every day and be positive in the face of any set-backs. Remember, the people whose relationships are the most successful are people who are proactive, aware and positive in their approach, whether this is to find a partner or to create a magical relationship. As the old adage goes, ‘true love isn’t found; it’s built.’

Remember, we are conditioned to believe that we need to find one ‘perfect’ person who will meet all our needs for the rest of our life. The problem that many people have in terms of meeting suitable partners is that they confuse ‘perfect for them’ with ‘perfect’. There is no such thing as a perfect person. None of us is, and expecting partners to be perfect will only result in disappointment. Stop expecting your partner to be perfect, or to fulfil your every need, and instead be open and willing to work on building the relationship that is perfect for you.

Make your goals specific

Setting specific goals in a relationship can help to ensure that you are on the same page as a couple – and it also helps to keep the relationship vibrant rather than static. There is also more chance that the relationship will succeed over the long term if a couple has shared values and their individual, relationship and long-term goals are complementary. Goal-setting not only helps to outline what each person wants from the relationship; it also means you have the support of another person who understands you and what you are trying to achieve. 

Outlining goals can help couples understand what’s important to them both, and creates intimacy in the relationship as it encourages open and transparent communication. The key point is to make sure these goals move beyond the general (‘I want us to be happy’) to the specific (‘I want us to learn how to fight fairly and apologise to each other’).

To ensure that you are a good fit with your chosen partner, here are some of the things to think about when approaching love in this way.

·      What are your short-term goals?

·      What are your long-term goals?

·      Where do you see yourself in six months? A year? Ten years?

·      Which areas of your life are you willing to make compromises in?

·      Which aspects of yourself are you not willing to change? Why? (This will help you to enter a relationship with a better sense of your own identity and what you most value about yourself.)

·      Do you want children?

Once you have defined realistic goals, then you can work as a couple to put steps in place to make the relationship work. If you have different visions, you may need to work together, communicate and look at ways that you can both compromise. Make time to reassess your individual and relationship goals, as these can change over time, and you need to make sure that both people in the relationship feel that their needs are continuing to be met.

Though you must understand your partner’s goals, you also have to take into account your needs. Taking a pragmatic approach to love and having more realistic expectations of relationships can actually be empowering. This doesn’t mean that chemistry, lust and attraction are not necessary; it’s about making sure you have the best chance at love. When a person addresses their own needs, this tends to increase their self-esteem and confidence. Therefore, if you approach love in this way you are more likely to meet people who will be compatible with you, as well as increasing the chance of your relationship working out.