Disconnect and Thrive
You know yearend has arrived in Bangkok when you wake up to cool mornings and the sun shines a different light. The cool breeze lashes at your hair and a little dance finds its way into your walk. For many, yearend is a time for resolutions and self-reflection. Yearend is also a time for holidays and reconnecting with friends and families. Personal connections that offer best results when we disconnect from our smartphones and work culture of 24/7.
In cosmopolitan Bangkok, as in other big cities around the world, we have embraced the smartphone and a work culture of always being connected. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we are reachable. We are “always on” and addicted to messaging and social media. We send messages and almost always expect instantaneous replies. As observed by my husband, messaging has now evolved into the silent phone call. Boundaries between personal time and work time are blurring much like the boundaries between businesses of technology and traditional firms.
This work culture means we answer work-related questions even after leaving the office and bring work home to read on weekends and holidays. I am guilty of this and find myself checking my work email or replying to messages first thing in the morning. I send out messages during the wee hours of the day in an attempt to reduce my daytime workload and to make sure I do not forget anything. Technology is not only enabling us to work faster but it is now being misused to exacerbate this work culture of being “always on.”
It’s not surprising that in response to these longer work hours that last year France passed a new labor law giving its citizens the “Right to Disconnect.” Other European countries are considering similar actions and many companies have been ordered to stop work mail being delivered after hours. The trend has not yet reached Asia but it highlights an important discussion that we humans need to disconnect to reconnect.
Arianna Huffington, chair, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, talks about her own personal experience in her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. As an accomplished woman being selected by Time as one of the 100 most influential people you would think she had it all under control. Successful and hardworking, she was the embodiment of success.
Despite this, one day she collapsed from exhaustion in front of her computer. She broke her cheek and required stitches.
Ordered by her doctor to rest and recuperate, she realized that there was more to life than wealth and power. Having quality time with family and loved ones should not and need not be compromised for success. Arianna recommends we should all sleep more, learn how to meditate, and disconnect from our mobile devices.
Arianna says we need a “Third Metric,” a third measure of success that consists of well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving, that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power. A well-rested soul would recharge both our mental and emotional batteries. Though simple and intuitive, Arianna’s advice is one that we know but often forget in the rush of life.
As the New Year approaches, let’s take a step back, breathe in deeply and disconnect from our mobiles and connected states. Feel the cool breeze as it flows through your hair and reconnect with your inner soul and those around you. Disconnect to thrive and create what Arianna calls that “Third Metric” of well-being, wisdom and wonder.