The 4 Investments You Should Make In Yourself: #4 Put Your Phone Down

"I just miss those days where you could push someone in a pool and not worry about their cell phone." - unknown

Before I even get going on this topic, I'm not 100% innocent here, but it is something that I've recently read a lot about and have observed while out with my family at the park and have made a concerted effort to get better with.

Putting my phone down. (Unless you're reading this on your phone right now, then let's finish first. Take the time now to make sure your kids, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend or friends aren't staring at Carry on.)

Since the days of the 27' corded kitchen wall phone, the answering machine and the rotary dial phone have all but left us, our cell phones have become a life blood. The source of our everything: calendar, contacts, pictures, music and our digital connection to the world through emails, social media and text messages. As a matter of fact nowadays, it seems that people are actually putting their thumbs to their phones more than their ears. These things are amazing and it's a never ending fountain of information, stimulus and escape.

But what have we been missing in the process?

You can't seem to go anywhere these days where semi to massive majority of the people around you are on their phones. Faces aglow, fingers tapping, trying desperately to drink from the fire hose water fountain of the next piece of information. 

We have grown to be more interested in what others are wearing and eating, where they're going, and what they're experiencing than what's going on right in front of us.

We're all guilty, just some more than others and that's where you can take some happiness back.

Now, I will be the first to say that my life wouldn't be nearly as amazing as it is today without smartphone technology and social media. I've reconnected with friends from my childhood, made new friends all over the world, conducted business deals, conversed with celebrities and it's given me my current platform of sharing positive messages and encouragement. 

But there's a time and a place.

For those of you without children, there may be moments you've missed with friends or maybe Mr./Mrs. Right (or Right Now) has just passed and noticed how amazing your forehead is because the rest of your face is buried in the glow of the informational black hole. God forbid you're in a relationship and you're one of those couples (we've all seen them) at dinner, both on your phones at the same time for a much longer duration than "just checking one thing."

For the love of God, talk! Get to know each other more and romance each other. 

For those of us with children, the impact and the statistics are much more tangible:

In a recent episode of the Today Show, it was discussed that more than 70 percent of the adults used their phones during family meals and according to a recent study, 54 percent of kids think their parents check their devices too often while 32 percent say they feel "unimportant" when their parents get distracted by their phones.

The last half dozen times my wife and I have taken our boys to a major park, the picture at the beginning of the article is the norm. Parents not watching their children, enjoying their exploration and possibly missing moments of joy, but rather engulfed in a text message, Facebook feed or, even in one case, reading an article about being a better parent (sorry, I happened to glance at the right time and see the headline)

What is that saying about our parenting? Your children are your world and yes, I even think of checking my phone as a quick "mind break," but I've taken a hard look at when I do it. As I mentioned earlier, it's a habit that is taking some breaking, but my boys are beyond worth it. 

Some quick things you can do that I've been trying are:

- Check your phone before your children are up or before you walk in the door at night.

- Weigh the importance of what you're about to look at before making it a priority when you're with your kids. If you have to check it in their presence, explain to them what you're doing (checking weather, quick work email, etc.) and tell them exactly how long you'll be doing it. 

- When you make plans to do something with your kids, plug in your phone and leave it in a room you won't be in so you're not tempted.

- Socially, my favorite one ever is to stack your phones in the middle and whoever checks their phone first, pays.

Remember, I don't think anyone will have ever gotten to their last days and thought "Man, I've lived a great life following other peoples' great lives." Go out and experience your own, indulge in your life, family and friends. Make your own memories.

And this should go without saying, but sadly it's still a real problem and one of my main pet peeves:

Put your damn phone down while you're driving!

There, just had to get that off my chest.