I’m proud to say that I successfully completed my “No-Phone Challenge.” I lasted an entire week without a cell or landline phone, which meant no phone calls and no text messages, and even managed not to become a recluse in the process. I was still able to hang out with friends, plan my mom’s birthday, and was more productive in my studies than I’ve possibly been all semester. Instead of feeling restricted, I actually felt a sense of freedom.
During this past week I also finished reading Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert M. Sapolsky. Sapolsky is a professor at Stanford University who explains how stress causes and intensifies all sorts of ailments, diseases, and psychological conditions. Basically his book explains how are bodies react to stress similarly to how a zebra’s body would react to stress. The problem is that zebras are usually stressed in short bursts, for instance when they are being attacked by a lion. However modern-day humans undergo chronic stress, for instance when they are stuck in traffic, when they are worried about paying the mortgage, or when they worry that their spouse is cheating on them. These chronic stressors lead to illnesses such as depression, ulcers, heart disease, etc… illnesses that zebras never develop.
On page 383 of his book, Sapolsky talks about how the invention of agriculture led to the stock-piling of resources, which led to the invention of social classes, which led to the invention of poverty, which subsequently led to a million stresses that people never used to face.
This page reminded me of a blog post by on Frugally Sustainable: Redefining Our Wants Versus Our Needs. In this post, Andrea talks about how even though many of us in modern-society have access to goods and technologies that our ancestors never had before… many of us are still dissatisfied with life. Even though we have plenty, we continue to think that we need more.
We have a house, but we need a bigger one. We have a car, but we need a faster one. We have a computer, but we need a newer one. And we begin to worry and stress over what we don’t have, forgetting that these are not needs- but wants.
I can’t count the number of people who told me “I don’t know how you’re surviving without your phone. I would be going crazy.” Yes phones are convenient but I don’t know one zebra that worries about having one. The fact is you don’t need a phone; life will continue on without one. And while I am certainly happy to have one again, they are ultimately just a “want”.
It’s important to keep this in perspective, to be grateful for the present moment, to be grateful for what you have… instead of worrying and stressing about what you don’t 🙂