What in the world is an input cleanse?
I thought the same thing when I heard it for the first time on The Good Life Project podcast. Don't worry, it doesn't have anything to do with juices or soup detox programs. You're actually already familiar with the idea - it's all about unplugging and stopping the consumption of "inputs."
We have so many inputs coming at us from dozens of angles ALL the time now.
How often do you check your phone? Your email? The news headlines? Celebrity gossip? Social media? Sometimes I'm not even watching the media and I get texts from family members about who died or the latest outfit a celebrity wore. Emails that need to be attended to right now. Checking how many people commented on my post. Sometimes it's even the music we're listening to or the advertisements we think we aren't paying attention to in the background. All of it just keeps coming, with no end in sight.
Awareness about all of these inputs is the first step to making progress.
I love all the research that is coming out about our smartphones being a "slot machine in our pocket" because of the variable rewards we get when we pay attention to them. Dr. Cal Newport tells us to give up social media completely for a lot of good reasons. Personally, I prefer keeping a healthy balance and living within moderation (although there were those 18 months I lived without a smartphone).
I bet you have a lot of excuses about why you can't unplug on a regular basis.
I hear these excuses all the time (and I know I've said them myself at some point):
- I need to be available for emergencies.
- I might miss something.
- I get bored standing in line or waiting for things.
- Everyone else is doing it, is it really a big deal?
- I don't think I have it in me to actually do it.
First, most smartphones now have advanced settings where you can let certain contacts disturb you, no matter what, even if your phone is on silent. That can absolutely be helpful for emergencies of all kinds.
Our smartphones have also created a "fear of missing out (FOMO)" feeling. But trust me, the more you unplug, the more you start to realize you aren't missing anything. You'll catch up.
If you get bored standing in lines, try to use the moment to think mindfully and take deep breaths to help you relax and stay present.
Sure, everyone else is plugged in all the time and consumed by all the inputs, but you're committed to self-improvement and becoming the best version of yourself, isn't that why you're reading this?
And I absolutely know you have the power to do this - embrace your growth mindset and accept the challenge. You'll hit stumbling blocks, we all do, but small, incremental changes can add up quickly.
Now that we've addressed the excuses, let's talk about 5 reasons to get excited for your next input cleanse:
- You will actually get things done on your to-do list. Sounds obvious, but seriously. Aren't we all trying to reclaim our time for a purpose? The amount of time you're paying attention to inputs right now is more than you think. You're reading this blog post, it's an input! Some of you will find you need to start with an hour and build from there (I go one full day once a month - at least). Once you start to embrace the time, you'll really be able to delve in and get things done.
- True conversations and relationship building emerges. Doesn't it drive you crazy when someone is distracted while you're trying to talk to them? An input cleanse helps prevent those moments. You'll actually talk and listen with the other person. Deeper conversations and moments can happen.
- You will probably buy less "stuff." I know I've really found that when I stop the advertisements and constant promotions in my email, I buy less stuff (Unroll.me is a free game changer here). That's why we get all of these ads and promos - so we buy more stuff. Taking an input cleanse always helps prevent the, "But I NEED that feeling," I get about products sometimes. Out of sight, out of mind.
- You may even feel better emotionally. We've all had that "meh" feeling after scrolling through the highlight reels of everyone else's lives on Facebook or Instagram. There's building evidence social media is influencing our mental health and research studies about the topic have exploded in recent years. Letting ourselves get upset about so-and-so's uninformed commentary isn't really helping our day to day lives. So pay attention to your emotional health after an input cleanse day or weekend.
- Others will end up joining you. At first, most people are skeptical. But then they'll see how you'll benefitting and want to try it out themselves. And that leads us back to more interactions, more real time with each other, and a positive spiral of momentum for all of us. Who doesn't want that?