It’s Sunday evening and I’m writing this post whilst sitting in the departure lounge at Bangkok Airport in Thailand.
Thailand is just a 2 hour flight from Singapore where I currently live, and so I’ve been here for a very short break (…37 hours to be precise!) – visiting some friends who are holidaying in Bangkok whilst enjoying my first trip to Thailand.
Although a short trip – I’ve made the most of the weekend:
I’ve enjoyed a daily Thai Massage, eaten amazing Thai food, sunk a few Thai “Singha” beers and visited several of the stunning Buddhist temples plus the royal Grand Palace. And on Saturday evening we visited the swanky roof top Sirocco Sky Bar with it’s amazing views of Bangkok (if you’ve watched the movie “Hangover Part II” – it’s “that” roofbar..!).
I feel mentally refreshed and my inbox and lengthy “To Do” list is a million miles away having just disconnected for a few days.
Talking of disconnecting….during a visit to one of the Buddhist temples on Saturday I got talking to one of the Monks. But he wasn’t actually a ”proper” monk. He was, in fact, a financial trader from Singapore who had taken 2 weeks off to live the life of a monk (really!).
Being a Buddhist, it was his gift offering to his parents. And this weekend was the end of his 2 week ‘monk internship’ – and I was the first person from the outside world that he’d spoken to in two weeks.
I found his story fascinating and asked him how he had found the experience of living as a monk and whether he’d do it again.
To paraphrase his response:
“It was difficult for the first few days – but it’s been an amazing experience. I couldn’t become a Monk permanently, but I would definitely do this type of thing again.
Living a simple life with no possessions except for the simple clothes on my back, switching off from technology, being detached from the busy-less of life and work has been great. Not thinking or talking and simply focusing on being present has been just amazing. I’m going back to work feeling less stressed and much more focused than I’ve ever been.”
Many people would have thought this trader-come-monk was a little “wacky.” I actually think he is very wise - and in fact gives us a glimpse of what we should all doing much more of in the future.
You see – mobile technology, globalisation and (more recently) social media have brought us more convenience, more opportunities and greater connection than at any other time in history. But they’ve also given people 24/7 access to us like never before. Which in turn has created more distractions, more stress and more overwhelm.
To cope with this crazy world, we all need to find ways to step off the treadmill on a regular basis and switch off completely.
But I appreciate that we can’t all take 2 weeks off and become a monk (nor would many of us want to). Neither can everyone zip off to Bangkok for a weekend break like I have.
But we all have the intelligence and foresight to understand that we’ve got to get off the treadmill frequently in this crazy-paced world so as to lower stress levels, become more focused and healthier.
Here are some far simpler ways for switching off:
- A lunchtime walk (without your phone)
- A round of golf (without your phone)
- A weekend spa break (without a Wi-Fi connection)
- 10 minutes of meditation or deep breathing whenever you get a chance
- An afternoon in a coffee shop with a good book (and not an iPad)
- A 24 hour period disconnected from all technology
- A 30 minute massage, yoga class or simply stretching
- One day off per week from ALL job-seeking activity or talk about work and your career
Different strokes for different folks – but all of these activities are possible for most people reading this. If you practice being disconnected regularly you’ll become far more relaxed, more focused and happier. Which in turn will help you become more creative and successful when back at the workplace.
3 Questions to leave you with:
1. How can you create periods to disconnect in our crazy connected world?
2. How can you make it systematic so disconnection is diarised just like a work activity or meeting?
3. Who can you “buddy up” with so that you can hold each other accountable to disconnect on a regular basis?