Being Present by Leaving Your Smartphone Behind

Posted by davidjsinger - October 16, 2013 - Be a Leader, Be Happy, Be Nice, Be Present, Family, Friends, Habits, Happiness, Kindness, Leadership, Listening, Mindfulness - 6 Comments

Like so many people, my smartphone has become a seemingly indispensable part of my life. I love much about it.

I love looking up stuff on google, checking the weather, and accessing various social media.

It’s gotten me back into taking pictures, which I hadn’t done (other than pics of my kids) since more than 25 years ago when I lived in Manhattan and carried around a small camera wherever I went.

And it’s helped me to have easier access to one of my great passions—listening to music.

It’s also been a tool of extreme distraction, the kind I don’t want to have, and have often allowed myself to get sucked into.

I recently attended a dinner party and had a very refreshing experience after I decided to leave my phone in my coat (on a coat rack), rather than carry it around all night in my pants pocket.

There were a couple of times when I would have looked something up, but couldn’t. And that was okay—not knowing the answers to pieces of trivia that arose during the evening, and instead wondering and letting my brain work and try to dig the info out, and then eventually letting it go and forgetting about it completely.

It was okay to not have my pictures with me, to have my words tell my stories without photos to illustrate.

It was okay to be disconnected from the text messages that might have come in; it was okay (and good) to not be tempted to fill a quiet moment with some sort of electronic activity.

I tend to use the (oft-valid) excuse that I need to be accessible to my kids if they need me. But that excuse doesn’t hold a lot of water now that they are all college age. Sure, they might want to get in touch with me, and there might be a moment that they feel a “need” to reach me right away. But, that is so exceedingly rare that I’m willing to take a chance and put the phone away for a few hours of uninterrupted face-to-face time with friends; to be fully present, which the people I am with deserve from me, and which results in a fuller experience for me.

I did it again recently and liked it. And then I didn’t do it one night and not being present felt like a very wrong way to be for my companions and for myself. I’m going to stick with this new habit.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried this? Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,


  • bagsteve

    I had to run to an event and my phone was still updating with my laptop so I left it behind. I agree with David it is a refreshing feeling. One moment that was scary as I was heading towards the event I thought I have to knock on the door and what if people don’t hear me I can’t call or text! But funny enough that was the way things have happened more in my life before the cell phone and I never worried about it. I returned to my phone about 3 hours after leaving it and nobody even texted I (is my phone that smart?) or did I just lose all my friends for 3 hours? 🙂

  • Myra

    This weekend I took a long drive out to Western NJ to find the perfect pumpkins. There is something so special about a beautiful fall day, the trees were just turning, and the sky was that perfect blue. There was only one thing that would have made it better, I was wishing I wasn’t alone. Oh wait there was somebody on the seat next to me, but she had her tablet out and was scrolling away.

    No she didn’t spend the whole day like that. We got out and went shopping, and had a great lunch. I bought 3 pumpkins even though I only needed 1. They were so different and pretty, we even walked through a haunted barn. But, for what I thought were large chunks of time she was communicating with the world at large, and wasn’t there with me. She missed some glorious sights. I missed the joy of her company.

    I will try to be better and let go of my electronics.

  • David Singer/SixSimpleRules

    Good story. Thanks Myra.

  • David Singer/SixSimpleRules

    Excellent! Thanks 🙂

  • Don

    I’ve noticed more and more people using their smartphone while sitting at dinner with another person and that other person is talking to them. The person on their phone is basically telling the other person at dinner that what they are talking about isn’t important. It’s become such a habit for most of us, we don’t think about what it is saying when we are always on our phones.

  • David Singer/SixSimpleRules

    Crazy Don. Just doesn’t make sense. I’ve seen it too. Thanks for the note.