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Shelby: Smartphones have only been around for a little over a decade, but it's had a huge impact on our day to day lives. Today the average person checks their phone over 80 times a day. That means people are checking their phone every 12 minutes. That constant feeling of having to snap a picture to share with your friends and followers, waiting for the likes to roll in, the depression that comes when you don't get the likes you want and the anxiety of all those unanswered texts and emails.
What impact is all this having on our mental health? Today's guest Danny Kim is here to challenge you to unplug. I'm Shelby Stanger and this is Wild ideas worth living. Danny welcome to Wild ideas worth living.
Danny: Thanks for having me here.
Shelby: I figured we just start with what you do and why you're so passionate about getting people to unplug.
Danny: Great. It all started several years ago when I was working with college students and I was talking about a little bit might my research on smartphone addiction and emotional intelligence and I will never forget my student looked at me and she said, "I don't know how you can unplug." She had this look on her face where it was like if I don't do something about this there's going to be a lot of people that are stuck.
I think for me that was the personal passion of mine of saying how can I help people that are feeling trapped by their phones and the impact of technology.
Shelby: When was this and what were you studying?
Danny: I'm actually in my doctoral program right now. I'm studying industrial organizational psychology which is really the understanding of human behavior in the workplace. I was working at a university doing career coaching at the time.
Shelby: This is a really passionate topic for me because we're a household where we turn the Wi-Fi off at night. We live in a condo complex zone we're getting Wi-Fi beams all around. Phones are not allowed in bedrooms, it's a weird rule.
Danny: I like it.
Shelby: Can we start really the history of digital devices? There's this sound that we all remember.
[dial-up internet sound]
Danny: I love that sound. It's so funny I share that sound when I'm speaking sometimes to groups of digital distraction and people like literally laugh out loud. It's so funny because a lot of people don't even know what that sound is now because there's a younger generation, but I ask the audience sometimes like, "How many of you would be okay listening to that sound before you had to check your email every single time?" It's impossible.
Like Netflix, what if had to listen to that sound every time you had wanted to stream a show? Actually it's interesting because that sound might actually keep us from checking our phones. Ironically the ease and the speed actually makes it harder for us to just slow down and unplug.
Shelby: I think that's so interesting. My first job out of college was to be the journalist for the Vans Warped Tour. This was 2002 and as basically a blogger before it was called blogging and I had to take 100 photos a day with a Canon Elf and send in two stories, but I had to send in my photos via a slow dial-up connection that was usually being used by the production team and every photo took a minute to send inside a 100. I was a brutal, but like it kept me from sending a lot of emails because it was so slow.
Danny: Yes, it just wasn't a way of communication. Now I'm not saying that we should throw it all away. I love technology, I love the new iPhones, I love fast Internet. It's a necessity in our world today. It's just a conversation of are we becoming cognizant of when and where? I think that's really the question. For a lot of listeners they're athletes or people who are outdoorsy or whatnot, it's like do you give yourself a day to rest, because if you don't- if you're not a recovery day you can't keep competing.
In that same way that's the problem with our phones, it's like we just never get a break.
Shelby: So many things are going through my head because my mom is an addiction specialist. Mostly she works in drug and alcohol, but men all of us have some sort of digital addiction. There's these questions you ask to know if you're addicted to a digital device. What are these questions?
Danny: Sure.
Shelby: Wait really quickly. I was figuring, raise your hand if you listening to this Danny Kim podcast unless you're driving-
Danny: Just one hand.
Shelby: -felt a rush of dopamine when someone gives you a like on your Instagram. Okay, so hopefully you're got one hand on the wheel. You're driving but I do.
Danny: It's real, because the thing about addiction is, it changes and you need more of it. I asked this question in a lot of my talks, it comes from the Smartphone Addiction Inventory. There's a lot of assessments that are being created now, researched on. One of the questions I ask, from that addiction inventory, is my recreational activities are reduced to smartphone use. That might be, "I just don't want to go outside because I'm on my phone." Right. That's a big one. You start creating excuses because you get the entertainment that you need because you're inside or maybe you're watching a YouTube video of someone surfing and they're like, "Oh, that's good enough that I've done my physical exercise for the day."
The other one is, because of my smartphone, my sleep quality and total sleep time as decreased.
Shelby: If listening, ask yourself this question.
Danny: Yes, that one's tough for me too because, when I'm traveling, I'm on my phone late at night checking emails and then I just stay up because my adrenaline rushing, for whatever reason.
Shelby: Pretty much all the studies say, "Do not check your phone at least an hour before bedtime." Also, because of just the light, the blue light.
Danny: Yes, the blue light and because neurologically and psychologically you're ramped up because you're thinking and you're engaging, your mind is turning and rather than shutting down, it's turning back on. The other one, a question I ask is, I feel restless and irritable when my smartphone is unavailable. [laughs] I think you're looking for your phone right now.
Shelby: Maybe.
Danny: That's a hard one, right? Because it's like we needed it at times. The research shows that, there's two things that are happening with our smartphones. One is, I'm just naturally addicted to it. Like I just have a compulsive reaction to check whatever that is, because it's become a habit or I'm restless because I'm afraid of what I'm missing out on. Like, "Oh my kid needs to call me," or "My boss is trying to get a hold of me." Putting my phone on do-not-disturb and putting it in the drawer when I'm working, can cause a lot of anxiety.
I remember before I had my smartphone, there was like pagers or whatever. Before that even I would tell my mom I'd be home before dark and that was enough. Now it's like, "If you don't text me back right away, something's wrong." I had that experience with my wife the other day where she was in a meeting or something and I was texting her for like, what does she want for dinner. Then the meeting went longer and I kept texting her and be like, "Is everything okay? It's seven o'clock now, eight o'clock now. What am I going to do and where is she at? What if something happened to her?" It's like she was at a meeting, so not a big deal.
Shelby: I totally turned into a psychopath of Johnny Carson.
Danny: Yes.
Shelby: Respond to my text.
Danny: It's interesting.
Shelby: It is interesting and I think people listening probably have had that experience too. If someone doesn't answer, it's something wrong. Sometimes I feel just massive anxiety when I'm in a moment like watching the sunset and I don't have my phone with me because I haven't been able to capture it. Then that's just an approval thing because then I want to show other people. Sometimes I want it for myself. Well, maybe we should just take a step back. Maybe you could share some insights into the history of our digital addiction.
Danny: Digital addiction is nothing new necessarily, other than the fact that there's this new platform for addiction. Researchers suggest that digital addiction is very similar to behavioral addiction, which is similar to shopping, gambling, these kinds of things. Something that you do and then you receive a reward. The science shows that when you post a picture on Instagram and then you get a like, that is actually shaping your behavior because it's releasing dopamine in your brain and you're going, "Wow, I feel good. This feels really good." Or even to the effect of like, when I delete an email, that makes me feel good.
What happens, the way addiction is formed, is that we start doing these things, whether in any context where you're sitting in your room late at night and you're just tired. You post a photo and you wait for your friends to comment on it. All of a sudden you're getting these releases of dopamine and it's reinforcing behavior on how you feel about yourself and self-esteem and all of these things. That's how addiction begins to happen. The challenging thing is, people don't know that they're addicted to it.
Shelby: How do we know if-- Depending on how we answered those questions, how do we know if addicted?
Danny: Oh man, that's a great question. Well, I'm not a psychologist in that sense, or a psychiatrist. If you really think it's a problem, I think you should see a counselor, but really, it's a growing field in that, right? There's more and more research that's being done for that kind of addiction, whatnot. I think that part of it will be
[00:10:00] doing self evaluation in a self reflection on ''can I not be with my phone for a couple hours a day?'' Or can I take a day off and just saying I'm going to commit today to not being on my phone or not checking social media even, because sometimes we need our phones. We need our phones to communicate whatnot or maps or to take photos but can I just be disconnected from moment? If you're having a hard time doing that, there's a good chance that you're moving towards the addiction.
Shelby: Danny told me this fascinating story of just how far digital addiction can go. I'm sure you've heard about being addicted to social media and the negative effects it can have. We all know the saying, comparison is the biggest thief of joy, but it's not just social media that can have a negative impact.
Danny: In 2013, a Vietnamese video gamer, he released a game called Flappy Birds. Originally when it was released the reviewers thought it was too difficult to play, and was too similar to Nintendo Super Mario Brothers. In 2014 just a few months later, everything changed. What happened overnight is Flappy Birds began to get thousands of downloads and in just a month it was making $50,000 a day. What happened was within the month the developer began to be really torn because the reviews came like this, one person said, "I ruined my life. It's side effects are worse than cocaine and meth." Talking about addiction. Another one says, "The apocalypse, my life is over." Another one says, "Flappy Bird will be the death of me. Let me start by saying do not download Flappy Bird."
In February of 2014 a month after all those reviews started coming in, the developer tweeted out saying, "I am sorry Flappy Bird users, 22 hours from now I will take down Flappy Bird. I cannot take this anymore." I think that's an interesting moment, because there comes to a place in to technology where we're no longer doing a service for people, and our technology actually can become harmful. Now, if the developer just wanted to make a quick buck, he would have just kept it up, because he's making 50k a day. He realized these side effects and the addictive nature and also the fact that he might be ruining somebody's life. I think that's a really courageous move for the developers to say, "I'm going to take this down because it's not worth what I'm making off of it."
Shelby: Have you ever played Flappy Bird? Did you ever play it?
Danny: I have played Flappy Birds. Yes, I remember it. It's like you just push a button and it moves and you just have to survive. I think it becomes so addictive because of just those rewards that you get, when you get the flash across the screen, or the next level up. That's why it becomes addictive. These kinds of things. There's this neuroscience behind it. It makes us feel good when I'm having a bad day or let's say I finished a project and I feel like I need to reward myself. I'll go on social media or play a video game and it makes me feel good. Maybe I had a really bad day and now I'm like, "I got to go pick myself up, and I'm going to go to Amazon and buy some things." They'll make me feel good because then tomorrow I'll get a new iPad or something. So interesting our psychology, but we're just literally not aware of it most of the time.
Shelby: I have a friend and I don't know if this is statistically proven. When she's having a bad day, her selfie game goes up the roof especially. It's on social media. You see her posting selfies in the bikini on Instagram. I've just talked to her and I know she feels like crap.
Danny: That's an interesting piece, because it's really about self esteem. We go on to social media to validate ourselves at times. It's difficult. It's a really difficult piece and I think we need to really begin to become more conscious of that.
Shelby: We're all aware we're on our phones too much, but knowing how to get off our phones can be challenging. When we come back, Danny shares tips about how to get off your own phones and devices, as well as how to encourage our friends and even our families to do the same. First, a quick message from our sponsor.
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Danny: Great question. I am in the process of really becoming more cognizant of my surroundings and so some psychologists call this behavioral architecture where you change physical surroundings in order to become more aware of what you're about to do. For example, like you said, I keep my phone out of my bedroom when I go to sleep. I know there's a certain time or I turn off and I shut down and I choose not to look at my phone.
Another thing that I do is, I have certain times where I check my email. Email can become a very destructive thing when you're not cognizant of how many times you're checking it. Like if I'm in line at a grocery store or if I'm sitting outside on a bench and I'm just like passively checking email. It's actually taking away energy from you. What behavior architecturally is is that you're creating different compartments in your day to then be able to do work.
For me, I try not to check my email until 8:30 in the morning. I get up earlier and I spend time meditating. I spent time writing, I spend time in deep work and then I check my email and then I don't check it every single minute of every day. I actually create space at 11:00 or 1:00 and I just spent 15 minutes really intentionally cranking up my emails because I know that it's not the most important thing in my day.
Shelby: The email thing is tricky because if you respond to an email, another one comes right back.
Danny: Yes.
Shelby: I think you had this great quote from a behavior addiction specialist who said something about emails that are like--
Danny: Zombies. Emails number like zombies, you kill one and they just keep coming back. Email is the greatest necessity and the most evil necessity that we have today because of that very fact. You just have to become mindful of how you architect your day. I think that's really, really important. If there's certain people that need to get hold of you sooner, you may consider using, text as your primary way of communicating. Or if it's not that important, say, "Hey, shoot me an email and you'll get back to it later." We've come to a place in our culture where it's expected that you email immediately.
Shelby: It's tough. A lot of guests have told me their email techniques. One girl, Elena Nichols, she's the Paralympic champion, she's skier. She said she just doesn't check any digital anything until 8:00 AM or 9:00 AM. She does her day and then she checks. Another guy, James Nester. He wrote the book "Deep" he says he checks email 11:00 and 4:00 and a lot of times the people who email him between like early he won't respond to and by 4:00 they've figured out the answer themselves already, so he doesn't need to respond to them.
Danny: I love it.
Shelby: I think it's so interesting. I have a little autoresponder, I finally just had to create because I was getting too many emails from people mostly wanting help starting their own podcast, which is great and I love feedback, but I just had to create an autoresponder with commonly asked answers to commonly asked questions and that's been really helpful because I feel anxiety if I don't respond to people.
Danny: Yes. It causes an emotional response, doesn't it?
Shelby: Yes.
Danny: It feels like we're letting people down or whatnot and that's why like behavioral architecture really is critical. I mean just you setting up an autoresponder is huge to just your own well-being then you feel better. At least you're trying to help them out or you sift through it or you create a new solution for them to be able to help.
Shelby: Any other tricks and tips.
Danny: Another technique that I use is called the pomodoro technique. The pomodoro technique is really comes from this French professor and it's the idea of, the reason why it's called pomodoro is because it's like a tomato timer that's silly, but the idea is you create intervals within your work where you've come Uber focused. One of the things I've bought, it's on Amazon. It's called a time cube.
Shelby: I have one of those.
Danny: You have one of those?
Shelby: I started using those, it's amazing.
Danny: Isn't so cool?
Shelby: It's a cube and you can turn it to five and it's five minutes or 45, it's 45 minutes, game changer.
Danny: Yes, so cool because I use my phone before and that was distracting me because I'd like say "Siri set a timer for 25 minutes," and then I've looked and it reminds me maybe I need to check my Instagram account or something. I keep my phone away. I use this cube timer and I just say, okay, 15 minutes email or 45 minutes, or 60 minutes. I'm just going to be fully focused here. I'm not going to do anything else. Then I give myself a break. I go get some food or water or take a walk or make a phone call. I think there's an interesting dynamic when you take something that's your time, which is invisible, and you turn it visible and you create space and you say, "I want to do X amount of Pomodoros today." I think that really creates that space for you to be more creative and thoughtful.
Shelby: Putting away your phone can help you be more productive at work, but what about with your friends or family? We all have that friend or family member, or maybe it's you, that's on their phone when you meet up for dinner, and it just feels, well, crappy, doesn't it? Next time you're hanging out with your crew or your family, try this experiment and see what happens.
Danny: One of the things I did with my friends is when they all came over and I had them put their phones in a basket. I do this in a lot of my workshops as well when I'm working with my clients. At first, there's a visceral reaction where they revolt and they're like, "Why are you making us do this?"
One night, I did it with some friends. We were having dinner at my place. Just, "Hey. Just like you're taking off your shoes at my house, can you throw your phones in here as well." just as an experiment. I just wanted to see what would happen.
Within 30 to 40 minutes, all my friends started talking about it. They were all just sharing how it's really difficult for them to disconnect. It was just a thought conversation, and people started chatting about it and they were saying how my manager is like this or I like this, or I can't disconnect sometimes, or it's really difficult.
I think that there's going to be smartphone etiquettes that we need to deploy in our culture, where it's just rude to check my phone even if I'm having a conversation with somebody. Because in that moment, I'm saying this person that's called me or trying to message me is more important than you in front of me. I think that's a dangerous place we are because you are more concerned about everyone else other than the people that are right in front of you.
Shelby: How do you teach someone that etiquette? I have family members that love you, family, but they'll check their phone when we're talking.
Danny: Yes. You can't guilt anybody or shame anyone into changing their behavior, but I think you can model it for yourself. That's where self leadership comes in, where you become aware of your surroundings and you chose intentionally and say, "I'm going to keep my phone in my pocket or my purse for the rest of dinner. There's no need for me to check. There's no need for me to break away." I think that it's really sad. You go to dinner and you look around-- I would encourage any of your listeners that go to dinner tonight or tomorrow, and go to the restaurant and just look around. I've seen groups of friends sitting together all on their phones. It's everything but being connected with the people right in front of them.
Shelby: I had this cool idea the other day, and people, maybe a tipster or whatever, but people are throwing these parties and they're saying party like it's 1995.
Danny: [laughs] No phones.
Shelby: No phones. You can only bring your block phone or a beeper. What else have you done? I know you've done some experiments in class. Can you share one or two of the experiments you've done in class to make people be aware of their digital behaviors?
Danny: One of the things I've done is I have, similar to what I did with my friends, I had them put their phones in the middle of the room in the middle of the table. I've done that before. I've had them put them under their chairs as well. Then I ask survey questions sometimes, and some of the questions that I ask is if there was one app you would delete to increase your focus, what would it be? Number one answer all the time is something social media related.
Shelby: Instagram.
Danny: Instagram, right now, yes. Then other question that I ask is, what is a word that you use to describe putting your phone away? That's an interesting one because that creates self reflection, how do I really feel right now? How do I react to me putting my phone away? The companies that I've worked for, when I do this, often times people stop bringing their phones to my workshops. It's cool. I'm shaping their behavior.
I wonder, maybe the new way of our phone usage will be when we come into people's homes, we just put our phones away. That's a reality of how we react to one another. I think it's an important thing that we can just start to prototype and experiment with.
Shelby: That word that people think of, I couldn't guess because I have this image of me taking my phone a lot, throwing it into the ocean.
Danny: Maybe you should try it.
Shelby: I'd love to, but-
Danny: It's expensive.
Shelby: Yes. Is that word what I think it is?
Danny: Yes, there's a mix of words. Some people say words that are negative and then other words are like freedom, focus, attention, mindfulness, presence and those are the kinds of words we want to experience with people in front of us, isn't it? When you're fully engaged and I think I love researching people who are best at what they do. When you look at whether that's a pro basketball player or a surfer or whatever, they're fully focused and they're not distracted. I'm a classically trained violinist, I'm not a violinist by being distracted.
It took me hours, hundreds and thousands of hours for me to practice to get to where I am today, I didn't have my phone with me. You can't do both and so whether you want to be a writer or whether you want to be an athlete or whether you want to be a dancer or serve your clients in a certain specific way. You have to be completely focused and I think that's what is the key to unplugging and saying, “What am I wanting to accomplish in my life and what do I need to do to make that happen?” Not just stop looking at my phone, that's not a good enough motivator for people. It’s really about what's the positive intent, what's my why?
Shelby: When you are talking about people who excel at what they do, they have to have 100% focus, I thought back to Alex Honnold. He's the guy who free soloed El Capitan climbed to the top of Yosemite without ropes and he actually went without a phone for a couple months leading up to his climb.
Danny: Really just fully focused.
Danny: So he could fully focus and it’s so interesting that you say that. If you want to be good at something, you have to focus. How do we do that? We have these parameters, we can set boundaries, any other tricks and tips on what we can do to just have a better relationship with our devices?
Danny: There is an interesting thing that Apple has released this year 2018 and Android as well but it's a new built in iOS software where it's called Screen time.
Shelby: Yes I tried this as soon as I heard you talk about it.
Danny: Did you try it?
Shelby: Yes.
Danny: What did you get? What’s it like?
Shelby: For those of you listening, screen time if you haven't turned it on it measures the amount of time you're on your apps or on your digital devices. I set Instagram time to 15 minutes and then every 15 minutes I'm on it, it says time's up or something like that.
Danny: It warns you and then you could say do you want to do another 15 minutes or do you want to clear it for the day because you just need it for the day. Or it just says, "Hey, your screen time is up."
Shelby: For me, I really enjoy it because I’m like wow I'm really on my phone especially Instagram more than 15 minutes a day and sometimes I have to be. I think it's really interesting to know how much I'm on my phone.
Danny: Yes that's the first piece is self-awareness.
Shelby: Yes that's a great one and I love that you can set it to certain apps.
Danny: Yes you do certain apps. One of the ways that I use it is at like 09:30 at night, it disables the majority of my apps. I say turn off all of my apps at 09:30 except for so I have my core map which is a meditation app, I've got a timer. Now I can always disable it, it gives me the freedom and the autonomy to be able to say I need my app because I'm traveling or I’m on a flight and I need to open my Delta app or whatever. It's just a good reminder because majority of my time I can be without it.
Shelby: Is there anything for people who don't have an iPhone that they can use?
Danny: Yes there's an Android version of that, it's an initiative that's being really considered because people are beginning to say this is not healthy for us. I really think that smartphone addiction and smartphone usage is going to be like the new smoking. There's going to be a lot more research that shows the impact of smartphone on our neurology, on our psychology, even there's research being done right now on our physical. There's people who are getting hand and wrist pain and because of that they're getting-
Shelby: Texting.
Danny: -texting, their actually backs are becoming more curved as a result.
Shelby: Or sitting up straight.
Danny: Exactly, that's both phones and also laptop usage and what not. Bad ergonomics but I think that we are becoming more aware of the impact that technology is having. It's crazy, it's changing everything about us.
Shelby: This is so fascinating. Danny, thank you so much for sharing this. I think a lot of people listening to this podcast are parents or maybe they have nieces and nephews or going to be parents. How do you handle the kid-technology dilemma to give your kid an iPhone or not?
Danny: I don't know the full
[00:30:00] answer to this. I have a couple of recommendations. I would suggest having a low tech home. What I mean by that is, creating space in your home, because as soon as your kids step outside into the real world, whether that's in school, or whether that's in any other context, there are going to be technology everywhere. They're going to go to a friend's house and play video games, or they're going to go to school and learn how to code. Which is great, all of good fun things to do. However, I would try to limit their usage on their phones, whether that's becoming really mindful of what kind of apps they have on their phones if they do have a phone.
What age? I don't know exactly what the appropriate ages to get a smartphone for a kid. The research suggests that our kids' brains are developing still and we need to become very cognizant of how they're developing and the negative side effects of being so connected to social media or even channels like YouTube and whatnot. There's a lot of things out there that maybe our kids shouldn't be watching. That's a real thing. I would just become really cognizant of that. We hopefully want to encourage our kids to become full human beings, whatever that might look like. Smartphones could absolutely get in the way of their development.
Shelby: Maybe you're able to cut way down on your phone usage, but one thing I wanted to be sure to ask Danny was how we can fill the time we previously spent on our phones. It's hard these days when you don't have a get-together or an outing or an activity plan, or you're just bored, to not jump on your phone and end up spending minutes, even hours on it, losing the time that maybe you would have liked to spend doing something more productive. There's one thing I didn't get a chance to talk about with Danny. I love when people paid the words, "Look up," on the street or on a crosswalk.
Too often we're looking at our phones when walking around town or even crossing the street. It's not only dangerous but you're missing out on the things you might benefit from seeing like trees or birds, or even cool architecture when in the city. We don't all live in places where it's easy to see the night sky and its full glory, but whenever I get the chance to stare at stars, sunrises, sunsets, VISTAs or open ocean views, I stare my little heart out. Not only does it just feel good, but it reminds me how much is out there beyond my own little world and my own digital device.
What are some solutions like? What should we fill our time with instead?
Danny: I think that one thing we need to be mindful of is that we have to be okay being bored. I often like to bring in this conversation with people when we're talking about digital distraction and smartphone addiction and how it's impacting relationships. For me, at the end of the day, there's two questions that I really want to encourage people to ask is, "Am I on my phone because I don't like myself or something about where I'm at in life or am I on my phone because I don't like my relationships that I'm in right now.
That's a deeper human question, it's more of a philosophical question where, "Am I on my phone because I just am not satisfied with what I have?" If I got some bad feedback from my boss or if I'm not as accomplished as I want to be. The phone becomes an easy way for us to just numb out. Then the other part of it is, "Am I not okay with my relationships?" Your friend that's trying to post photos of myself to just get some more likes because my self esteem is so low, or I'd rather not talk to you right now. I'm going to talk to somebody else and find somebody else to fill that void and to fill my own sense of humanity.
One of the things that I encourage people is be okay with being bored. That means take some time to take a walk, leave your phone in your car, leave your phone in your office desk, spend some time breathing, spend some time reading. If you work in an office, go find a person to go get lunch with and leave your phone completely way and say, "I'm completely focused to this person for the next 60 minutes or 30 minutes whatever that is. That my gift to them is my presence." I think that's a huge opportunity.
Then the other thing is, just become more mindful of your technology, is not in the sense of, "How do I say no to it, but how do I say yes to it? And what are the right ways to say yes to it?" That might be setting up parameters within how you do your work. Are you being distracted as you work or are you making sure your notifications are turned off? I think that's a big thing too, is turning off notifications on our phones, right? Both the buzzing and the screen when you have the little notification that pops up is like, "Oh you got a reminder or whatever." I just have all my all my notifications off, I basically have no notifications.
Shelby: Mom are you listening?
Speaker 1: [chuckles] I think it's really important because it takes away- if you think about I mean going back to the example of the pro-athletes. Every time you're distracted you're not able to focus on what your intention is, and so if that even means I'm like fully- let's say I'm in this podcast and I was getting all these notifications on my phone or my laptop I wouldn't be fully here.
Shelby: It'd be really difficult to do this podcast interview. You have this background as well besides studying theology and organizational behavior, you're an outdoors guy.
Speaker 1: I love outdoors, yes.
Shelby: Why is getting outside one of the best solutions?
Speaker 1: Yes, that's great. A couple of years ago when I was working at another company we had a subdivision of our consulting firm where we would take people on the road. A couple of places we've been to is Patagonia doing an eight day trek on the W to Machu Picchu, we did the sock and tie trail.
Shelby: You led these hiking expeditions?
Speaker 1: Yes. What we would do is we'd partner with these expedition guides and we would be the leadership gurus. We were their leadership sherpas and we would walk alongside them and ask questions about your identity and strengths and because it's a nature you really get challenged. It's a nature you don't have your phone interestingly enough. You don't have anyone to- you don't have your phone as a security blanket nor do you have a phone to distract yourself. In these moments in these beautiful landscapes, all you can do is say, "Wow, I'm here, I'm small and this is an amazing feat." Whether that's you're in Machu Picchu and you're looking at the amazing architecture or you're looking at Terazzo Piney and you're looking up and you see these towers and you're like, "How did this get here?"
I think that there is an opportunity where you are fully present and there's something amazing when you can disconnect. I think the reason why travel is so important or being outdoors like that especially in a place where there's no Wi-Fi or cell service you can tell people, "Hey I'm going to be disconnected, I've got my autoresponders on my email." You can let people know that you're gone, that you're trekking somewhere and then you don't feel guilty about it. You make the plans that you need to to be outside. I wouldn't even recommend people that don't have 10-14 days to do something crazy like that, do a weekend trip, take a Saturday, disconnect, turn your phone onto airplane mode and really begin to reorient yourself so that you can be fully charged when you're back on Monday.
One of things I talk about a lot is turn your digital device into development tool. What I mean that that is on my phone I have a meditation app, and it's interesting because I use my app on my phone in the mornings. There are some headphones in and I use my app to track my meditation.
Shelby: The headspace?
Speaker 1: I've used headspace before, I use Calm and it's very similar idea but the interesting thing is I'm using my phone as a meditation tool and it's ironic because I'm trying to disconnect from my phone but actually I'm using it, and so I turn off everything else and make sure I have some space to use that and I think that's huge like don't get a divorce with your phone, you just need to become more smart. Every single time it's an app says, "Do you want us to give you notifications?" Say. "No." Don't allow until you absolutely need to, you don't need it all the time.
I think there's an interesting phrase you in our English lexicon called FOMO which is a fear of missing out, and recently people have been coming out with JOMO, the joy of missing out. Really the idea is we can become okay with not being everywhere, and can we become okay with ourselves, can we become okay with our friends, can we become okay with our life circumstances, can we become okay with the space that we're in right here right now because when we do I think that's the key to deeper more meaningful relationships.
That's the key to creativity, that's the key to authentic community, that's a key to becoming more attuned to your own emotions and your own feelings and your own fears. In those moments where you're saying, "I'm okay with where I'm at." and Jomo invites us to that, it takes that the very thing the fear of missing out which is what social media can cause when we're fully "plugged in" and JOMO says, "I want to unplug purposefully, I want to be away from my devices, I want to be away from the things that are distracting me in the moment and to be fully present."
I do that all the time in my own work. I've had some stressful days, you know client meetings or I've got emails to write or projects I need to work on within every 45 minutes or so I disconnect and I actually create space for me to just breath. I take a quick walk around my block or wherever I'm at and I just try to breath. It just resets my intention.
Shelby: Danny, first of all thank you. This was amazing. Where can people find out more about you, your work and what you're up to?
Danny: Absolutely. My website is Danny Kimm with two Ms, .com. I'm on Instagram Danny Kimm with two Ms, on Twitter as well. I'm on LinkedIn professionally. The company I work for is called Centauric and we’re here in San Diego, but we travel all around the world. You can check them out as well if you're interested. Centauric is C-E-N-T-A-U-R-I-C.
Shelby: Danny’s last name is actually spelled K-I-M, but on all social media accounts and his website it’s Danny, thank you so much.
Danny: Absolutely.
Shelby: Many of us are looking to improve ourselves especially in the New Year. Hopefully this episode gave you inspiration to get off your phone, get outside and look up and out. If you like the show please give us a review on Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you're listening to the show and be sure to check out the previous episodes like episode one of the season where we talk to a lawyer turned Mindfulness Coach who’s helping kids transform how they approach their score and helping them set records using mindfulness in open ocean swimming.
If you're all interested in mindfulness this is a great episode. Thanks again to Danny Kim. Thank you to REI for helping us to get outside, explore and unplug in nature more often. Wherever you are in the world I hope you're having a beautiful and I also hope you remember some of the best adventures often happen when you follow your wildest ideas. Tune in the week after next. Write a review and if you can go ahead and unplug.
[00:42:17] [END OF AUDIO]

Here’s the Wild Idea

Smartphones have been around for a little over a decade, but in that short time, many of us have become addicted to our digital devices. Have you ever been out in the wilderness, staring at a gorgeous vista or surrounded by falling snow and found yourself struggling against the urge to pull out your phone in order to capture the moment? Are you planning to go back and look at that photo later? Or are you snapping a picture so you can post it to Instagram for a reward that will come from “likes” blowing up your phone?

Danny Kim is a researcher and speaker who is studying the impact of technology and social media on our mental and physical health, our social interactions, and more. In his workshops, he talks about the science behind the rush that comes when you get a “like,” why we might need to spend less time on our devices, and how to actually unplug. 

During our conversation, Danny shares tips and tools to help you and your loved ones reduce your screen-time. Instead of staring at that little world that fits into our pockets, we can spend more time this year looking up and out at the amazing world around us. 

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You spend too much time on your phone.
  • You wish people around you were less focused on their screens.
  • You are ready to unplug and focus on what’s in front of you.

Key Takeaways

  • 1:20 – Danny wants to help people unplug.
  • 5:05 – Are you addicted to your smartphone?
  • 11:20 – Games can be as addictive as social media.
  • 16:30 – What Danny does to reduce screen time and unplug.
  • 22:05 – Try this experiment to get your friends off their phones.
  • 28:15 – Apple and Android have new built-in Screen Time tools.
  • 31:00 – How to limit your kid’s technology time.
  • 34:00 – We have to be okay being bored.
  • 37:15 – Getting outdoors is a great way to get off your phone.


Pomodoro Technique

Connect with Danny




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