Astronauts, upon returning to Earth, often find they have acquired a renewed perspective on life and society. They feel connected and at peace – to each other, to the Earth, and to the universe. Many call it the overview effect – brought on by the overwhelming experience of observing a borderless, fragile world spin beneath their feet in just 90 minutes. All of society’s conflict and disagreements are suddenly too petty to be worth a thought. Mankind’s most distant, insurmountable goals – world peace and the end of suffering – now seem manageable.
It’s uplifting to imagine a time when all of humanity is afflicted with the overview effect. But that’s a long way off – the joie de vivre of some future generation, should we find the courage for preservation. In the present, we are too flawed. We draw borders on our maps to bring order to the world and we create borders in our minds to heed our impulses – for better or worse.
To meet our goals, we need rules and boundaries to keep us on task and moving forward. We are too weak to let our own predispositions be our only guide. The modern, app-filled world gives us the tools to create the boundaries just right for us. Two of my favorites are Momentum (for habits) and Forest (for productivity). They both keep me accountable and focused on what’s important, while being flexible enough to adapt to changing goals and lifestyle. I call it my Momentum Forest.
Despite returning to the Momentum Forest for years, endlessly checking boxes and planting digital trees on my phone still strikes me as silly and superfluous. But it’s necessary. After all, I’ve yet to witness the Earth spin beneath my feet in 90 minutes.