We can think of many ways technology makes us happy and impacts positively on wellbeing (a caveat comes with this)

  • Think about members of our armed forces away from home for lengthy periods of time. An online call home seeing loved ones and hearing the words “I miss you. I love you”. For some seeing their newborn baby for the first time. Whilst being with loved ones in person is obviously more preferable this is the next best thing and creates that warm fuzzy feeling.
  • Antipodeans with family fragmented all over the world or those of us on work secondment away from the family nucleus? Technology keeps us connected. Long distance relationships – an online acknowledgement or text can make your day. I know how I feel when I get to speak to and see my Dad even though he is 10 000 miles away.
  • Education and choice through amazing online resources. Interactive text books and accessibility, yeah! The sense of achievement felt here is quite something.
  • The amazing assisted technologies helping people who were never able to communicate, be able share a message and be heard. In fact technology in the health industry often serves as a life line.
  • The advancements in measuring health through technology certainly makes us happy as a wellbeing consultancy. Apps like Headspace help make our clients feel less stressed too.

We love technology …. this list is unending!

Happiness is a state of wellbeing – how comfortable, healthy and satisfied you are with your life. It takes on a different meaning for everyone. Happy for me, may not be happy for you.

There are two kinds of Happiness: Hedonic happiness is when we experience optimum pleasure and fun. It is a consummatory experience to a response or stimuli – often a shorter quick hit. Eudamonic is a pursuit of personal fulfilment and realization of one’s potential – a sense of purpose and meaning. For any Maslow fans out there this sits nicely with his theory of self-actualization – possibly more sustainable.

Which types of happiness do you recognise in the examples above?

Where happiness is challenged (the caveat)

When technology doesn’t work! To my “IT and Tech” connections out there I can sense your glare through my screen and yes I agree, more often than not it is not the technology that doesn’t work it is the user at fault. I hold up my hands! Still … printers really do smell your fear!

Where it is goes wrong is exactly here – with humans and the behaviour sometimes bought about with technology.

  • We often rely on technology for a quick happiness hit – think about the last time you purchased something online. How did it make you feel and how long did that feeling last?
  • Some of us use technology to boost our self-esteem and whilst we share what is seemingly a simple Facebook or Snapchat update – really what we are after is some attention. A reaction to make us feel good.
  • Think about how distracting our handheld devices can be. Apparently on average we check our hand held devices up 110 times a day! The habitual checking of these takes us away from the people around us, away from being present.
  • What about email? For many this has become a large part of a working day – clearing an inbox. An administrative task possibly taking you away from possibility thinking and creativity.
  • Online games – whilst these offer great appeal the length of time spent on these can roll into hours or even a day. The lack of actual physical social interaction and connection falls away.

We’ve highlighted how technology re-unites and connects yet it paradoxically has the potential to make us less connected too. Perhaps it’s about achieving balance?

Whilst we can continue to appreciate all the wonderful things technology has to offer in contributing to happiness and creating sustainable wellbeing, keeping a close eye on it’s social influence and continuously redefining boundaries is something to consider?

Some ideas to challenge you:

  • Become aware of time spent on social media. Limit yourself to interacting or checking to once or twice a day
  • Find discipline in starting and finishing a task or project without the distraction of inbound emails
  • Dock your handsets on arriving home or at social event like a meal out. Spend some time engaging and connecting fully

Simple stuff – what are your thoughts? Next time you’re out for a meal out take a look around you…