Why I deleted the Facebook app

  
Over the last few months I have felt myself gradually overhauling life. I’ve taken on some brilliant ideas which are making me more efficient and leaving me more space to do the things I keep procrastinating over, but which mean a lot to me. Little things that make me work more effectively and make me happier. I will share even more of them another time, I promise.

There is nothing to be unhappy about in my life, quite the opposite, yet it has had an unexplained sense of unhappiness recently. I have been pulling things apart lately to work work out where that sense of dissatisfaction comes from, slowly and surely I am unravelling it. Often the things are very little, and very quickly solvable.

Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan, a behavioural scientist, is a really fascinating read, and has been another pivotal moment in that journey. It makes happiness a really unemotional and practical thing and I like that a lot. 

By switching your attention, understanding what makes you happy, and making choices based on greater understanding of what happiness is, you can subtly redesign your environment to be happier.

I love Facebook in many ways, but the app on my phone needed to go. It’s hugely distracting. I will keep up when I really want to, via my laptop, not whenever I find myself bored, or weak willed, phone inexplicably in hand scrolling through an endless stream of other people’s activities, thoughts, beliefs and feelings.

I care deeply about my friends but humans aren’t designed to multi task or take on the thoughts of 700 other people at frequent intervals throughout the day.

At the book’s suggestion, I redesigned my life’s ‘default settings’, I deleted the Facebook app. As Dolan predicted, humans are programmed to go with the easy option and so without the app, the urge to play around aimlessly on my phone faded quickly. 

Instead I read the whole of The Guardian via the app, longer articles left my head clearer and my soul more satisfied. Before The Guardian would pop up in my Facebook timeline,  I would share something controversial on Facebook and it would set off discussions I just didn’t have the headspace for. Reading a whole newspaper by myself is giving me back a wonderful sense of perspective.

I am listening to Adele’s new album via the Sonos speaker Mr A bought me a year ago. I bought this via the iTunes voucher he gave me for my birthday in May, because he has been telling me for so long that music will make me happier. I finally have the Sonos app and am enjoying making music magically appear from the speakers via my phone.

The book told me that music absolutely does make us happier. Sorry it took a behavioural scientist, and not my husband’s months of hinting, to change my behaviour. Lots of the book is stuff you sort of know, but reading it in this format, backed up by research studies into human behaviour, it all falls incredibly neatly into place and feels very comforting.

Music has been an issue for me for many reasons. When my Mum died all music made me cry and I think as a result I have fallen behind in the digital age. 

There’s guilt too, at spending money on ‘stuff’, so I liked Dolan’s suggestion of pre agreed treats. I am going to make the Friday album a thing. On Friday my working week ends with a treat, a new album. Adele is great, but it makes me feel old, the days of wondering about ex lovers and heartbreak are long behind me. Please send suggestions to rebuild my musical life.

I will be on Facebook still,  I actually doubt anyone will notice the difference, as half the time I was probably mindlessly scrolling anyway. But I will notice. 

Apparently sharing your intentions helps, so if anyone discovers I have reinstalled Facebook on my phone feel free to question me. 

What next?

Mr A also pondered if colouring books might help me switch off. Which probably means in six months I will be sharing my new colouring book with you. For now though:

‘Why the f**k would I spend my spare time colouring?’ Was my reply.

Apparently mindless tasks are good for helping us to process and make happier decisions. Mr Dolan and Mr A agree on this too.

I am not convinced keeping to the lines is what I need as a rebel. But I am considering crosswords. They seemed to keep my Grandma content and sharp into her 90s. 

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18 Comments

  1. 29/11/2015 / 4:57 pm

    Very interesting post – thanks for sharing.

    I have also been overhauling my life over the last few months. I no longer want to waste valuable time doing things that aren’t really all that enjoyable and/or have no real purpose. That’s why I’ve given up magazines, and I’m reducing the amount of time I spend staring at a screen.

    I’ve got the ‘Happiness by Design’ book, but haven’t actually read it yet. I’m now going to put it in my bag to read on the train to work tomorrow. Will let you know how I get on!

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:34 pm

      I think you will find it really interesting, he talks a lot about balancing pleasure and purpose, and working out whether things really are either! Def let me know how you get on!

  2. 29/11/2015 / 9:03 pm

    Loving your posts atm – I need to delete that app (again). Have lots of musical suggestions for you – Friday album sounds like a fantastic idea.

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:34 pm

      I am writing a listography!

  3. 30/11/2015 / 10:34 am

    I think I may need this book in my life too – I’ve been feeling much the same. It’s that scrolling for the sake of scrolling and then realising that I haven’t listened to what the person IN THE ROOM WITH ME has said! Deleting the app sounds like the right step forward to me. I don’t need to see everyone’s Christmas trees or what I missed out on at the weekend because I was busy doing something else (which I really enjoyed) and I don’t need to feel like I’m getting it ‘wrong’ because so and so is doing ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ is) so much better than me! I’m crocheting blankets in the evening instead and it brings me so much joy. Also need a musical update which I am getting via Tidal and loving it!

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:35 pm

      It’s that overfilling your head until you can’t think straight I struggle with, humans just aren’t made to multi task so much. I need to get back into crochet!

  4. 30/11/2015 / 12:43 pm

    Love this post and yes please do share more of what’s working for you. Music is absolutely key, our house is generally filled with it — and Abiye has Spotify Premium at the deli, which is sort of on my 2016 wish list for myself (I’m making lists of things I plan to gift myself). I can’t do without Soundcloud and love discovering new remixes of old favourites and new DJs. I bought a colouring book at Tiger but am yet to start — think it’s the rebel in me too.

    I’m definitely going to have to be more ‘strategic’ about social media going forwards — FB is such a massive time suck. Unfortunately because it’s where I ‘meet’ for work, hard not to get distracted by friends and family streams. Don’t know if I can delete the app yet but I’m definitely creating set times!

    I highly recommend crosswords, I love the cryptic ones in Evening Standard – not as mind boggling as Times. My mum was a crosswords nut too xoxo

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:37 pm

      I meet there for work things too, but it means work never ends! I think the app is making home/family time clearer to me, but I will let you know how it goes. I had to reinstall it to share some pics of a theatre show we saw last night, but deleted it afterwards! Glad it isn’t just me on the colouring x

  5. 30/11/2015 / 12:59 pm

    Hmmm. Maybe I should delete facebook from my phone too – thanks for sharing that suggestion. And you’re so right about the music. I don’t allow myself time to ‘indulge’ in it properly these days. But it’s a big part of who I am. Have you listened to The Bird of Music by Au Revoir Simone? It’s an album I go to when I want to be in a happy place. As for colouring books, pffff – I’m right there with you on those!

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:38 pm

      I am going to check it out Nell as you have such good taste. Pffff to colouring ha ha!

  6. 30/11/2015 / 7:31 pm

    I really think i should follow your lead and uninstall facebook from my phone too Penny. Perhaps I will make it my new years resolution!

    I wonder if colouring will help me too as currently my only head clearing time is in the shower…..

    I am finding the blog/social media/work/life balance harder and harder to maintain at the moment.

    I am very glad to hear you are feeling more content though. xx

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:39 pm

      Water is so good for thinking, swimming, baths, showers – just take longer and longer ones! Mr A told me instead of thinking I needed a complete overhaul of everything to ‘change some stuff’, so I just started making a few little changes and it seems to be helping, it is so hard isn’t it? xx

  7. 02/12/2015 / 2:44 pm

    I didn’t have a mobile phone until September and I barely use it now. When I turn it on its full of messages!! But I feel so unproductive with one around! It lures you in and sucks away your time … damn you technology! *runs off back into the forest*

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:40 pm

      HOW? That’s awesome! And you turn it off? Takes notes!!!

  8. 03/12/2015 / 9:56 am

    I am really interested in this book. I’ve found monthly intentions has been a really good focus for me this year. It is so easy to let things slip. I have always been very protective of my FB space, I block out stuff and I’ve unfriended people who use it differently to me. I also aim not to accept random friend requests and I’ve left groups. For me keeping it simpler works. I need more music, I’ve become a fan of radio 4 but actually music is good. We listen to a lot of ‘old’ stuff in the car. I also feel a step away from new music. Loads of friends recommend 6 music. I need a digital radio (mine has stopped working).

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:41 pm

      I love your monthly intentions, can we all play in 2016? I am not sure fb groups work for me either, so distracting! My digital radio broke too, I had it tuned to 6 for a day or two and then Mr A retuned it, might get one for my office….

  9. 03/12/2015 / 2:29 pm

    I’ve just sat down with a coffee and my phone, after trying to write a blog post that has mysteriously has lost photos and all the text. Ironically, your post appeared on my Facebook stream as related posts.I love colouring in books, crocheting, reading and papercrafting in the evenings, since I have turned off all social media notifications, evenings are a lot more peaceful.I know I have got a lot more done around the house and blogging since I have done that but as for deleting the app, maybe.I have gone back to having a proper planner and I’m bullet journalling again, which is making me more productive.As for music, Spotify recommends a weekly playlist based on my listening choices.Ok…. so I’m to delete the app.

    • parentshaped
      04/12/2015 / 6:42 pm

      Just saw your stunning pic of your brandy and crochet – now that is how we should be spending time at home! You always inspire me.

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