We may feel fear, worry, restlessness, or boredom. These reactions are also universal. We should simply note them and then generalize. We should realize that these reactions are normal human responses, and can arise in anybody. The practice of this style of comparison may feel forced and artificial at first, but it is no less natural than what we ordinarily do. It is merely unfamiliar. With practice, this habit pattern replaces our normal habit of egoistic comparison and feels far more natural in the long run. We become very understanding people as a result. We no longer get upset by the "failings" of others. We progress toward harmony with all life. It's not important to decide right now which comes first, digital obsession or emotional depression. What matters is this: if you are already struggling with symptoms of depression, overusing technology can make matters much worse. Here's how. First, some good news: drug, alcohol, and tobacco use among adolescents in the United States has steadily fallen since the 1990s. The bad news? Researchers suspect one reason for that is kids are increasingly substituting technology for these substances as their "drug" of choice. One specialist went so far as to describe the smartphone as "digital heroin" for millennials.[2] That appears to be more than mere hyperbole. Findings suggest the brain reacts similarly to positive feedback on social media, for example, as it does to opioid drugs in the bloodstream. In the United States, surveys suggest Internet addiction rates of up to 8 percent across the population, possibly much higher in some regions. In South Korea--one of the most "connected" nations on earth--authorities estimate that 10 percent of the country's teenagers suffer from full-blown Internet addiction, prompting the government to declare it a serious health issue.

Monthlong residential "rehab camps" have sprung up, some treating as many as five thousand kids a year.[3] Worldwide, health officials estimate as many as 420 million people have become addicted to using the Internet.[4] There is no doubt: this is a real and growing problem that cuts across age, race, and gender demographics; socioeconomic classes; and national borders. What's at the heart of any addiction is impulse control--that is, the struggle to say no when faced with a choice that could have negative consequences. For those who are already battling depression, this is a big problem. A common response to the distress of depression is to reach for anything that makes you "feel better." With the world at your fingertips via the Internet, the range of self-medication options is practically endless. You are one click away from indulging in impulsive shopping, pornography, and gambling or useless "surfing" or bingeing on entertainment or news. Maybe some or all of that delivers a momentary surge of euphoria with the key word being momentary. When it wears off, you want more, and so the cycle of addiction begins. Of course, as with any addiction, over time the lows grow deeper and the highs not as high, which only reinforces feelings of hopelessness, despair, and worthlessness--all the hallmarks of depression. This is why recovery must include an honest look at the scope of your Internet use and treatment for possible addiction to technology alongside everything else. Here are some confidence tips I've used for years--and my philosophy has always been that if it can work on someone like me (someone who used to be so shy he couldn't even look at others in the eye), then it can work for you: Go outside of your comfort zone (just a little bit.) I know you may think, "If being confident was really that easy, I'd be the most confident person in the world by now," but the truth is, most of the time, we make it harder on ourselves than it has to be. We actually spend about 50 percent of our day with unfocused thoughts--thoughts that wander from "what time is it" to "How can I make my presentation for that client more engaging," to "I wish I was eating a donut right now." The truth is, you don't have to waste all of your energy on thoughts that don't matter. You can actually do' something instead ofthink' about it (and as a result catapult into a confident person within a very short time.) The way to do this is by stepping outside of your comfort zone, just a little bit. If you're used to doing the same types of activity during the weekend (and as a result, only run into the same people over and over again, making your feel like there isn't anyone to date, or new people to get to know), change your scene. Try out a cardio class you've been wanting to take at a fitness studio you've been meaning to check out. Take a painting or kayaking class to get to know other like-minded people, who share the same interests as you. Or, if you want to meet someone special (and the dates you've been on have been a major bust), try online dating. Create a profile that shows off your most confident, happy self. (For example, write about how you love trying new things, heading to music festivals or trying new restaurants, etc.) Smile, and give someone a compliment. Just think about it--when was the last time you received a compliment from someone? I recently had coffee with a friend who is the mother of twin teenage boys.

She bemoaned the mind-altering influence of her kids' obsession with the latest techno-villain: the online game Fortnite. "They can't stop!" she told me. She was convinced the game was addictive and her kids were junkies. Every evening involved fights to get them to stop playing and finish their homework. Exasperated, she asked me what I thought she should do. My advice involved a few unorthodox ideas. First, I advised her to have a conversation with her sons and to listen to them without judgment. Potential questions to ask included the following: Is keeping up with their schoolwork consistent with their values? Do they know why they are asked to do their homework? What are the consequences of not doing their assignments? Are they OK with those consequences, both short term (getting a bad grade) and long term (settling for a low-skilled job)? Without their agreement that schoolwork mattered to them, forcing them to do something they didn't want to do amounted to coercion and would only breed resentment. "But if I don't hound my kids, they'll fail," she objected. "So?" I asked. "If the only reason they study is to get you off their backs, what will they do when they get to college or start a job and you're not around? Maybe they need to know what failure feels like sooner rather than later." I advised her that teenagers are generally old enough to make decisions about how they spend their time. If that means flunking a test, then so be it. Coercion may be a band-aid solution, but it is certainly not a remedy. Next, I proposed she ask them to suggest how much time they'd like to spend on various activities such as studying, being with family or friends, or playing Fortnite. I warned that while she may not like her kids' answers, it's important to honor their input.

The goal here is to teach them to spend their time mindfully by reserving a place for important activities on their weekly schedules. Remember, their schedules (like ours) should be assessed and adjusted weekly to ensure that their time is spent living out their values. Playing Fortnite, for instance, is fine if the time has been allocated to it in advance. With a timeboxed schedule that includes time for digital devices, kids know that they'll have time to do the things they enjoy. I advised her to change the context of their family conversations around tech--from her screaming "No!" to teaching her kids to tell themselves, "Not yet." Your stockbroker calls and exclaims, "I'm glad I caught you--it's time to jump in and buy stock in Natural Water Inc.!" When you ask why, he says, "I've just analyzed the company's past stock prices, and it's a classic case. I've seen this pattern a thousand times before. When a stock acts like this, it's ready to take off. Do yourself a favor and buy now!" After hearing such news, many of us would dig out our checkbook and throw our hard earned money into Natural Water's stock. But is it the right thing to do? Stockbrokers who analyze changes in a company's stock price are using a technique known as a technical analysis. Technical analysts (also called chartists) believe they can see patterns in stock price charts that allow them to predict whether a stock will increase or decrease in the future. A chartist doesn't even care what type of business a firm is in--they could be selling computers or Barbie dolls. The trends detected in past stock prices are much more important for the technical analyst. You may have seen stock charts, like the one presented in figure 7. They are printed in financial newsletters, shown on news programs like CNBC, and are part of countless Internet financial sites. In fact, companies that create these charts have recently experienced a boom in sales.1 Chartists also use filter systems. For example, if they see a low point in a stock price, followed by a 5 percent (or some other percent) upswing, they think it's an upward trend. If the price peaks and then drops by 5 percent, it's a downward trend. A typical chartist rule goes something like, buy a stock that moves up by 5 percent from a low, and hold it until the price goes down 5 percent from a subsequent high.2 In fact, this technique is the foundation of stop-loss orders that many brokers recommend, where the client is advised to sell if the stock drops by some percent below the purchase price. So, does charting work?

Very intelligent people see patterns in past prices that they believe are associated with future price increases or decreases. However, those associations don't exist. Look again at figure 7. It seems like there are trends in the stock's price movements, doesn't it? The price starts at $50 a share, rises a bit, levels off, and then experiences a sharp drop to around $42. The stock price then has a period of rapid and consistent growth to around $59, drops a bit, and then appears to level off. With such trends, it seems like the stock's price changes are somewhat predictable. But the fact is, this chart was generated by a random process! Starting at $50, I used a random number generator, which was essentially like flipping a coin, to determine if this hypothetical stock was going to rise by a dollar or fall by a dollar each day. Chartists see all kinds of patterns in such random processes. In fact, Professor Burton Malkiel of Princeton University had his students create similar charts by flipping a coin. One chart showed an upward breakout from an inverted head-and-shoulders formulation, which a chartist would interpret as very bullish. Malkiel showed the chart to one of his analyst friends who almost jumped out of his skin, exclaiming, "What is this company? We've got to buy immediately. This pattern's a classic. There's no question the stock will be up 15 points next week." Although there are many subjects of meditation, we strongly recommend that you start with focusing your undivided attention on your breathing to gain some degree of basic concentration. Remember that in doing this, you are not practicing a deep absorption or pure concentration technique. You are practicing mindfulness, for which you need only a certain amount of basic concentration. You want to cultivate mindfulness culminating in the insight and wisdom to realize the truth as it is. You want to know the workings of your body-mind complex exactly as they are.