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Are We Wazing Our Way Through Life?

Emma Tekstra > Mental Health  > Are We Wazing Our Way Through Life?

Are We Wazing Our Way Through Life?

I love Waze! I’m rather geographically challenged so rely heavily on Waze to find my way to places even when they are quite close or find my way home from anywhere I ended up. A few years ago we were on a family vacation in Costa Rica travelling around the whole country in a rental car. The roads there are famously bad but we found that Waze was phenomenal if we just trusted the friendly blue line. It would tell us to turn right up ahead where there didn’t even seem to be a road, just a bit of a dirt track between two trees.  Sure enough a few turns later we were back in civilization arriving at our planned destination right on time.


Today however I was driving in southern California on a busy freeway in the rain and realized that I was more focused on the blue line on my phone screen than the reality of the road itself! I missed my exit and narrowly avoided another car also a bit lost in the rain. While Waze calmly re-routed me it added 10 minutes to my drive and elevated my blood pressure somewhat.

Are we more focused on the digital version of our lives than the three-dimensional reality?

Do we spend hours a day checking social media, the news headlines or what our online network is up to? Are we missing out on the far richer journey of our own lives in the moment? There are a lot of reasons for the acknowledged mental health crisis in the world today but one important factor that can be an easy fix is the focus on the digital world.


The human body was created for community. There are neurons in our brains that are specifically designed to mirror another person’s actions. This is how babies learn but also how we show empathy to others. There are chemical changes in our brains when we spend time with another human being. A cup of coffee with a friend or a shared walk are powerful activities. A video conference call doesn’t have the same effect. Just reading about someone else’s activity is a particularly poor substitute and more likely to generate feelings of isolation and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) than anything positive.


When you go to the grocery store are you more focused on your list than the people around you? Try giving out a few smiles and see how you can brighten someone else’s day. Mindfulness is a general awareness of our current surroundings, thoughts, feelings and sensations. It is the opposite of “wazing-out”. Making an effort to avoid the automatic impulses and focus on the current reality can greatly improve our mental health. Even if the current reality is less than desirable. Instead of finding a mental escape I challenge you to get into action to connect with another human in a positive way.  

Emma Tekstra
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