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Ellen Seidman is a magazine editor, web content developer and award-winning writer. She blogs at 1000 Perplexing Things About Parenthood for Babble, as well as at Love That Max. Ellen lives in the New York area with her husband, two kids and assorted dustballs.

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8 Simple Ways To Be Happier In A Nonstop World

By Ellen Seidman |

Email, texting, and the web make my life easier.

Email, texting and the web make my life crazier.

Both statements are totally true. While I couldn’t imagine life without all the conveniences tech gives me, I never feel like I can truly power down because of it — I am always on call, always engaged.

It’s gotten to the point where my kids have noticed. ”Mommy, put away your phone!” my daughter will command me. On weekends, if I’m trying to catch up on email in my home office and hear her heading up the stairs, I guiltily slam down my laptop’s lid so I won’t get “caught.”

“Technology is a good servant but a bad master,” says Gretchen Rubin in her new book Happier at Homethe sequel to her bestseller The Happiness Project. Her second book on bliss takes a look at everyday ways to feel more at home when you’re at home — including simplifying the stuff you own, being more thoughtful of your partner, tapping into the joys of your neighborhood, all in the name of feeling calmer, more energized and, yes, happier.

Gretchen dedicated a school year, September through May, to this latest project, tackling a different topic every month and digging up interesting research along the way. Like her first book, it’s filled with inspiration of the most practical variety; she gives you ideas you very much want to try, as soon as possible. She makes you scribble stuff out on Post-its and tack them to your computer, like “Give gold stars” (her resolution in her chapter on marriage to be more supportive and appreciative of her husband).

Gretchen dedicated January to better controlling her time — particularly her tech time. As she writes, “The real problem wasn’t the switch on my computer, but the switch inside my mind.” I asked her if her kids were aware of a difference after she put herself on a tech diet. ”You know, I don’t know that my kids consciously register a difference. They certainly never comment,” she says. “But I notice!”

Here, adapted from the book, are Gretchen’s 8 tactics to power down—and power up your happiness.

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8 Simple Ways To Be Happier In A Nonstop World

Put down the phone, iPad and laptop when family's around

Often, I’m tempted to check email not because I expect any urgent message, but because I’m a bit bored — standing around in the grocery store while Eliza takes forever to choose the snack to take to the school party, or watching Eleanor finish, with maddening precision, the twenty flowers she draws at the bottom of every picture. If devices are around, it’s hard to resist them, yet nothing is more poignant than seeing a child sit beside a parent who is gazing into a small screen. (I still get distracted by newspapers, magazines, books and the mail, but this rule helps.)

Photo credit: flickr/Barbara LN

Image source: Flickr/cscott2006

Read more from Ellen at Love That Max

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More to read from 1000 Perplexing Things About Parenthood:

• 8 Times You Fake It As A Mom
• Motherhood IS The Most Important Job When You Have A Kid With Special Needs
• 9 Ways Kids Wreck Your House: Home Eeek Home

 

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About Ellen Seidman

ellenseidman

Ellen Seidman

Ellen Seidman is a magazine editor, web content developer and award-winning writer. She blogs at 1000 Perplexing Things About Parenthood for Babble, as well as at Love That Max. Ellen lives in the New York area with her husband, two kids and assorted dustballs. Read bio and latest posts → Read Ellen's latest posts →

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