The purpose of new technology is to solve a pain point.
Whether it’s a smartphone, software program, or new piece of farming equipment, technology is manufactured and purchased with the intention of making something easier, faster, safer, etc. But at the end of the day, all of these hopes are ultimately tied to happiness. We’re innovating, buying, and using new technology with the ultimate goal of making our lives happier. But ironically, technology often zaps our happiness and makes us less satisfied.
How Technology Hurts Our Happiness
Happiness is something that we’re all searching for. It’s elusive, hard to define, and challenging to hold on to. We reach for anything and everything to fill the void we feel inside. And if there’s one thing that promises quick happiness, it’s technology.
There’s technology to make things easier (navigation systems). There’s technology to make things faster (voice-to-text dictation). There’s technology to make things safer (automated home security solutions). There’s technology to entertain (Netflix). There’s even technology to satisfy cravings of acceptance (social media and dating apps).
But at the end of the day, these technologies only provide a reflection of true happiness. In many cases, they actually lead to higher levels of dissatisfaction. This is especially true in a world where smartphones and social media are constantly available at our disposal.
"No matter how successful you are, you are (probably) not a billionaire. But you can see how billionaires live with the push of a button. You can see how the rich and famous go about their daily lives, what they have that you don't, how they live that you can't," psychologist Steven C. Hayes writes. “The disparity is now transparent, and it pushes ancient psychological triggers we developed for important evolutionary reasons.”
According to one recent study on the topic of social media and happiness, there’s a significantly negative correlation between Facebook use and overall well-being.
"We found that the more you use Facebook over time, the more likely you are to experience negative physical health, negative mental health and negative life satisfaction," study author Holly Shakya says.
Technology also robs us of some of the short-term friction and growing pains that are often necessary to experience in order to enjoy long-term satisfaction and happiness.
As Nu Skin sales representatives Mo Yi Hai and Lai Min Ning explain, persistence and happiness go hand in hand. It’s the act of facing and overcoming challenges that produces satisfaction (which is one of the foundational pillars of sustainable happiness). So when there’s always a piece of technology to automate, streamline, or evade a point of friction, we unintentionally rob ourselves of the chance to be challenged and to exhibit persistence.
Finding the Correct Balance in Your Life
The solution isn’t to strip technology out of your life altogether. But if happiness is your goal, you must learn how to balance it with other good and healthy things. Here are some suggestions:
- Establish tech-free blocks of time. It’s nearly impossible to live a life free of technology, but you can and should establish some tech-free blocks of time in your daily schedule where you totally disconnect. If possible, try to schedule one of these blocks of time immediately prior to bedtime.
- Get off social media. If you’re looking for true happiness, disable all of your social media accounts and do something else with your time. All social media does is establish feelings of jealousy and FOMO (fear of missing out).
- Wait before buying. When a new device, software, or piece of technology comes out, resist the temptation to be an early adopter. Instead, wait a few weeks or months before purchasing. In this buffer period, you may realize that you don’t actually need the item to be happy. If you still want the item after this amount of time, then you can at least purchase knowing that you aren’t making an emotional decision.
Technology Isn’t the Answer
Technology certainly has a role in modern life. It can be used to improve health, safety, and comfort. But it shouldn’t be relied on for everything. There’s something to be said for disconnecting, struggling to overcome challenges, and learning the value of persistence.
Technology is an answer, but it isn’t the answer. Happiness comes from a blend of factors and balance is paramount in its pursuit.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant.Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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