1. Connected & Present
Our constantly connected digital culture doesn’t have the greatest rep. Great things have happened because of technology but it can draw our attention away from the present moment. But are retreats where your precious phone is ripped from your tightly clenched fist for three days the best way forward? Or is there a more graceful way to have it all? Chris Flack of UnPlug and London based Vinaya’s CEO Kate Unsworth believe we can.
Vinaya are the creators of Altrius, a smart-jewellery range that notifies you of only the most pressing alerts. Chris Flack who’s a big a fan of the idea gave a lovely example. A husband and wife go out for dinner, they want to spend time together away from the kids and the phones. But if something serious arises back at the nest, of course they want the babysitter to get in touch. According to Chris, even leaving a phone in sight, screen down, impacts the dynamics of a conversation. Altrius is programmed to alert you only to calls from chosen contacts. Pop on the uber-stylish ring or pendant and forget about Facebook notifications pulling your attention away from your partner’s lovely eyes and smile.
Flack is also reworking the idea of digital detoxes to offer people something we can use even when we turn back on the phone. “UnPlug teaches you how to manage your technology instead of letting it manage you.” And it must be working because they’re running sellout retreats. Just as we shouldn’t need to rid every shred of negativity from the world before we find happiness within, so must we find a way to become present – with or without the phone.
2 The Kindness Trip
You’re a cafeteria worker in a University. Every day, you chat to the students, ask them about their classes, see how they’re doing and keep track of them throughout their time at college. It probably makes your job a little nicer and you’re a caring, loving soul, so you enjoy it. The last thing on your mind is probably that these consistent, daily gestures of loveliness are going to end up taking you on your dream holiday, but such was the case for Vicke Davis of Barrett College. In January, over 100 students showed up to surprise her with news that they had raised enough money to send her on what they knew was her dream holiday – a trip to see the Northern Lights – and presented her with a camera too so that she could bring some of the magic back with her. Her response, “See, that’s why I love my babies,” tearing up as she makes her way through the crowd to hug as many of them as she can on her thirty minute break and exclaiming, “I’m gonna bring back a lot of key chains!”
3 Kids These Days
Once again, kids are showing us adults up for their huge efforts in goodness, kindness, generosity, perseverance and dedication to positivity and helpfulness the world over. What’s lovely is that their ideas are always really simple, and have an instant and direct positive effect. A pair of Australian best friends were named Young Australians of the Year for their laundry for the homeless project. A little under two years ago, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett converted a van into a mobile laundry unit, it had two washers and two dryers and began bringing the van to parks, homeless shelters and anywhere else they thought they could be of use. Now, the boys oversee five of these vans and at absolutely no charge, have washed over 75 tonnes of clothes. Across the oceans to Florida, some even younger kids are getting active to help out the homeless. Inspired by a story they’d seen online (proving good news stories in the media have a nice knock-on effect!) , a group of girls from a local church collected over 100 jumpers and coats before an upcoming cold spell in the area. The girls tied the clothing to lamp posts with messages explaining that it wasn’t a lost coat, but one that could be taken and used to stay warm.