I really enjoyed listening to an episode of ABC’s ‘All in the Mind’ podcast on my morning walk today. As my job is quite sedentary, I try to get out for either a long walk or a quick run each morning, and podcasts fuel my mind and keep me entertained.
This episode was all about the benefits up looking up from our mobile phone screens and interacting intentionally with the world around us. The neurology of this behaviour is striking – our brain behaves very differently when we’re making eye contact with other humans and enjoying the interaction.
The examples shared included when you’re queuing for coffee and I have to admit that my impulse is normally to reach for my mobile. I might check my social media streams, have a glance at the news or even look at email. But what I’m not doing is looking up and looking around me.
It’s interesting for me personally, as I’ve really started to notice just how many commuters in London walk around staring intently at their mobile phones. Aside from the safety aspect (streets are often narrow and avoiding other pedestrians during rush hour is like a slalom event), it strikes me as quite a pressurised activity.
Very few of them are smiling for example. And quite frequently typing on their screens like their lives depended on it.
London can be really quite beautiful if you look up, above street level, and notice the architecture around you.
So, I’m going to make a conscious effort to keep my mobile in my pocket while I’m queuing or waiting around for something – I’ll look up and see what I can notice.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up in conversation with a fellow Londoner. Stranger things have happened!