If I had to answer the question, “What is Living Unplugged all about?” I think I would have to start by looking at my own journey and why I think it’s neither uncommon or unique.
I’ve found it inevitable that the more we consider the everyday aspects of our life – the way we spend our time, the food we eat, the interactions we have – the more we want to see how we can get the best out of every part of our existence.
This sounds like a grand ideal, doomed to failure. In one sense this is true. With very few exceptions, I’d suggest that it’s almost impossible to improve every aspect of one’s life with a single action or event.
Big ass life changes
The realisation I’ve had is that big ass life changes start with little things. My journey towards fitness and better eating all stemmed from an experiment with bread making over 10 years ago. My refusal to accept that any activity is beyond my abilities is not egotism, it’s simply a realisation that failure isn’t the worst outcome (not seeking new experiences is).
In recent years Laura and I have spent a fair amount of time looking at the aspects of our lives that bring us joy and satisfaction and what parts don’t. The conclusion we reached is we are most content when we are cooking, walking in the woods or making things.
We also found that technology, when used as an enabler, is fantastic. For example, being a bit of a data geek, I love tracking the distance I run. Fitness tracking technology has given me an added perspective on my running regime that helps keep me engaged.
Equally, the internet is an amazing resource for recipes and information about better eating, craft, DIY and so on.
However, technology fails us is when we look to it for entertainment or distraction. If we’re using pinterest or instagram to satisfy our need to explore food (without ever cooking) or using Facebook to fill in the gaps in our lives by engaging our attention, our use of it has shifted from valued resource to pacifier.
Core to Living Unplugged is seeing technology as a way of enhancing the analogue parts of our lives, not replacing it.
What makes us happy
Laura and I looked at what makes us happy and decided to explore how we could articulate it for the benefit of ourselves and others. We want to dial up the parts of our lives that bring us satisfaction and, in the process, share our findings.
Everyone has the potential and the desire to enjoy a richer and more real existence, but often the notion that such change requires a massive effort or some kind of epiphany is the very reason people will defer pursuing more satisfying activities.
The danger is that we see the risk (or effort) of change and compare this to the apparent safety of our existing patterns of living. Then we choose the status-quo.
So what if change needn’t start with something huge? What if I told you that it’s not a red pill/blue pill moment and that deciding to make soup for dinner for fresh ingredients might make more of an impact than you could possibly imagine?
This is what Living Unplugged is all about. Big change is hard. Big change can hurt. By starting with little moments of intentionality, you’d be amazed where it could take you.
Movement, Making, Mindfulness
We’ve tried to distill our experiences into something simple and accessible. The activities and experiences we know give us satisfaction broadly fall into three categories.
Movement – Going for walks, running, yoga, stretching… Human beings were designed to be in motion. When we ignore the basic human need to move our physical and mental health suffers. Everyone can get more movement into their lives – it doesn’t require a new year’s resolution and a commitment run a marathon, it just takes a little nudge.
Make a decision to go out to your nearest woodland or coastline rather than watching netflix. Go for a walk at lunchtime and discover something new.
Sometimes we need an excuse or a reason to move more, for example I like to take a camera with me to work and challenge myself to take a new photo at lunch time.
Making – We have evolved to make things. That’s why we have hands and not hooves! When we focus our attention on making something, we wake up bits of our brain and it feels amazing. Cooking, diy, craft, writing, photography… Finding out that you have control, that with the application of a little time you can create something of value, is hugely rewarding.
Mindfulness – There are a great many definitions of what mindfulness is. For us it’s more like being deliberate or intentional in your choices and engaging in activities that require presence. When we use technology to pacify ourselves, we are deliberately avoiding being present – we are just filling time. Engaging in movement and making require us to engage our minds and focus our attention. Choosing to pursue analogue activities, and basing those choices on what we need as individuals and what’s good for our community is what intentionality is all about.
Having launched Living Unplugged in June 2017, we’ve written a lot about what interests us, what foods we’ve found to support our decision to follow a plant based diet and we’ve laid the groundwork for some of the things we want to achieve in 2018.
We’ve had to address some of the realities of keeping full time jobs and being full time parents whilst trying to build up the Living Unplugged site. It continues to be a challenge and we will try new ways of addressing it without missing the whole reason for embarking on this journey in the first place.
So this year we want to share some of our experiences and interests in a more direct manner. We’ve already run bread making workshops and we’re talking to a range of people who can share their knowledge and skill with others.
Our aim is to run at least two Unplugged Weekends where you’ll be able to experience a range of activities that may give you the nudge you need to implement a little change.
We’re looking forward to the next 12 months, and we hope you are too!