What I Learned When the Power Went Out in SF and the Philippines

Over the past two weeks due to the wildfires in California, my power has gone out twice. AND I REALLY LIKED IT.  Here’s why:

1. Turning off the power becomes a day off for everyone including the 7-11, Safeway, and gas stations. It is like a snow day or bad weather, but it’s even better because the power is completely out and now there is an excuse not to work at all in any capacity! No electricity, no work!  We need more blackouts.

2. Since people have nothing to do, they leave their apartments and take a walk. Because of that, I met new neighbors. I have lived in my apartment for one year and only know two neighbors. Now I know five of them! I walked around the block a few times and started to meet new people. I was able to meet a few people having a bbq and also just chatting with others with a beer. Let’s turn off the power so we can build a community again!

3. Taking 24 hours off of technology and media is not only mental relief but it allows you to focus on those around you, pick up a book without distractions and/or work on a hobby. In the Jewish faith, many do this from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is for mental health and our relationships.

4. A few years back, I took to a trip to the Philippines when a hurricane/typhoon took out the power on the island for almost a week. Read about it here.

The happiest people around the world say it is because of their strong communities. As I’ve traveled, I can attest to that. The US population has much forgotten about our neighbors. Maybe its time to turn the power off more often.

What I Learned When the Power Went Out in the Philippines

Living without power may be a secret key to happiness

While on vacation in Siargao Island, Philippines, a small typhoon knocked out the power for three days. I spent most of the time with limited generator-powered electricity at night and none during the day. My daily activities changed and so did my mental state. It helped me to realize how I could change my personal and work life. Here were top 10.1 observations.

10.Sleep Better: When the sun goes down it is actually time to sleep, perhaps after a bit of moonlight chat that is. When the sun comes up its time to awake – primarily because the roosters will wake you up. I felt that I had more energy every day with this sleeping schedule. (Caveat: Most people reading this know I am usually jet lagged and have worked most of the night when I see them. This changes in 2015.)

9.Work Efficiently: When the sun is up, work quickly and efficiently to make full use of the day or lights out! The night is for eating, family, and rest. (Ok, a few emails or reading at night will not hurt anyone but the point is to accomplish as much during the day as possible and with the urgency to get the important things done).

8.Do Daily Tasks: Daily tasks can provide you a sense of daily accomplishment that work often does not. Cleaning, helping others, shopping and cooking are tasks that provide a sense of fulfillment. Try to work this into my daily activities.

7.Less Facebook and email: The world is much quieter and less complicated without these tools. You do not need to check your email the first thing when you wake up. Stop doing that. You also don’t need to know what everyone else is doing. On the other hand, these tools can be very nice to keep in touch with friends and family while you are miles away. But, seriously, shut it down for three days – not just one or two – and you will feel pressure lifted off your shoulders and focus more on the moment.

6.Increase Concentration: Without so many outside distractions, it is much easier to concentrate. It is not so much the distractions but the thoughts and pressure from them. Without these distractions, I took time to learn new songs on the ukulele and draw in my art pad. By not having electricity I resorted to other mentally stimulating activities and was able to fully concentrate.

5.Have Deeper Conversations: People talk more intimately about their daily activities to each other. You learn to be patient with people and think more deeply about what to say. People also reveal more about themselves in the dark. Perhaps, that is why much business is done at night.

4.Develop Bonds / Relationships: It is easy to make friends with those whom you have activities in common. But what if your common interests with others aren’t clear or you don’t have any? Simply taking a walk or a bike ride, trying new food, or sharing a daily activity like washing the dishes can help to create bonds with people of any age or place.

3.Build a Community: Because of the lack of outside influences and a slower pace of life, a sense of dependency develops amongst the people closer in proximity to you. This dependency creates a stronger community and a sense of familial trust. Is there a way companies can do the same to create community and trust by slowing down the pressures from the outside world?

2.Need for Mobile phones: All of us are truly becoming dependent on mobile phones for our day-to-day activities. Even more so In developing countries, people’s lives depend on their mobile phones for mobile banking, texting others for resources like food and water, transportation, and just calling for help. Simply put, mobile phones keep people’s lives and daily activities functioning – if not saving lives. Mobile is a good business to be in.

1.Stay in One Place: Staying in one place for an extended period of time is just as gratifying as learning about new places. You can learn something new everyday by walking around a different corner or from a person whom you have not spoken to. Socrates preached these two philosophies and this year I’ll try to stay in one place more.

0.5 Have Fun at Night: It is still as fun in the moon light. People chat more, stay stupid things, play fun, create live music, and dance to the silent disco. There are plenty of ways to have fun without the lights on. 😉


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