Four weeks ago my dishwasher broke. I was devastated. I hate washing dishes but without a dishwasher, your world can come crashing down if you’re a clean freak like me.
For two weeks, I tried everything. Nothing would fix the dishwasher. My girlfriend returned home from a ten-day holiday and asked me what was wrong. “I turned the dishwasher off and on again and now it works fine.”
If your phone is broken, you turn it off and on again. If your car sounds like it’s having issues, you turn it off and on again. If the TV has lines through it, you turn it off and on again and prey it works.
Turning electronics off and on again works. Why couldn’t it work for humans?
Writer, Anne Lammot, wrote the headline of this article in her book “Bird by Bird.” It’s a thought that has helped me a lot and might help you when you have no idea what to do next. Here’s how to unplug yourself.
Unplug With a Walk
Ryan Holiday is a God and I want to find a way to have his children as a man.
But seriously, his thoughts on walking, recently, were life-changing. Ryan has a way of taking you back through the centuries which helps you unplug. He posed this thought:
‘Consider who might have walked this same path in the centuries before you.’
That thought is an excellent way to unplug. Walking takes your mind off whatever your supposed life-threatening problem is today.
Life looks good with a walk even if your career is burning to the ground or your partner wants to divorce you before taking the keys to your BMW.
Walking doesn’t just help you unplug; it can help you have a breakthrough according to Ryan. Walking has done exactly that.
When my inner-world came crashing down more than five years ago, it was a late-night walk that brought about the most bizarre experience of my life.
I went on a walk and began listening to an audiobook called Get The Edge. The audio kept me walking for hours straight. I found myself outside a stranger’s house after midnight, hours away from my home.
I had no idea how I had walked so far. But on that night, my life changed. I believed in myself again and it became the catalyst for everything that followed, including taking up writing. That’s what can happen when you unplug with walking.
Unplug With Dumb Entertainment
Mind-numbingly dumb entertainment is great for the soul. The TV show with the blonde bimbos arguing over who screwed who, or the reality TV show that treats cooking like a beauty pageant is awesome to help you unplug.
The dumber the stimulus, the more your brain switches off.
Before going to bed, I try and find the worst form of entertainment known to humans. My go-to source is success porn. It’s those speeches or motivational Instagram videos that you’ve seen a hundred times and tell you what you can achieve without telling you any of the steps.
“You can be Elon if you work hard.” After that slogan, there’s no practical advice. One could misinterpret that advice and work hard at eating a lot of sugary food — and become a fat pig. Is that what the video meant?
Find your version of dumb entertainment and use it to unplug.
Unplug With Rest
There has been a big breakthrough in my life lately: when I don’t sleep properly or enough, I’m irritable and angry. This causes me to self-destruct and blow up at strangers. If I don’t unplug with rest, everything I do is a disaster.
When you find yourself angry or demotivated, increase how much time you sleep. For me, that meant going to bed at 9:30 pm instead of 10 pm. Those extra thirty-minutes of sleep changed me from a fiery a**hole into a more gentler human being with a heartbeat.
Rest matters. Sleep more. Mediate more. Or take afternoon naps more.
Unplug With Fresh Air and Sunshine
Podcaster Tim Ferriss regularly preaches this strategy — and I agree. It’s gold. If something feels off or you’ve lost your mojo, go out into the sunshine and get some fresh air.
Staying indoors can be a prison. You can forget you’re human and become trapped by artificial surroundings that take you out of your natural animal habitat. You’re a decedent of an ape, remember? Apes live outside, not inside a home office with a phone and laptop buzzing and flashing your brain into oblivion.
The local park or beach are great places to reset your operating system (or defrag for you old school Windows XP users out there).
Unplug With Travel
If all the tips above don’t help you unplug and start working again, that’s a signal it’s time to take a holiday and travel.
Your hometown can start to look the same after a while. You can walk around your neighborhood and completely forget the finer details because it’s become so familiar. The drive to work can be completely done on autopilot after long enough.
Travel takes you to a new destination with a different culture. A new culture helps you compare how you live, to how others live. This comparison makes your return home transformational. Home doesn’t look the same after you have visited another person’s home in a faraway land.
My life, recently, has become too much of “same-same.” I have booked a trip to Greece with my girlfriend to see how people lived in ancient times. I want to find my future self in past generations. I want an old Parthenon structure to remind me how beautiful a building can be without a roof or home appliances stuffed in every corner for (in)convenience.
I’m hoping by unplugging, I can understand what the future of my career and writing is going to be.
If you feel stuck right now or don’t know what to do next, you should try unplugging. You can always work again after you have unplugged.
Try a short disconnect and if that doesn’t work, go extreme and embrace a longer disconnect.
Your life will never be the same again after you’ve learned to treat your mind like an electrical appliance and unplug it regularly.
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