Todd Luongo spent a career working at the murky intersection between government and big tech before choosing to step out of that world for something completely different. In 2018 Todd, along with his friend, Israeli journaling expert Lee Snir, co-founded the conscious brand, “Legendary Life”. Legendary Life is currently best known for their research-based, guided journals and affirmation cards which they refer to as “mindset tools for your personal, human optimization toolbox”.
If you don’t already own one of their journals or packs of affirmation cards then chances are that you’ve at least seen them before on the shelves while you were shopping in Whole Foods. Usually adjacent to the vitamins and supplements. Next to the incense, essential oils, and healing crystals.
However, many more people may soon know of Legendary Life because of their “No Phone Challenge for Mental Health Awareness” which they are rolling out this month. Their team is betting that the public has reached a tipping point with tech addiction. Specifically, the negative impact to mental health that is generated by phone overuse.
The Legendary Life team believes that people are desperate to restore balance between their online and offline lives and that they just need a good excuse and a bit of a push in the right direction to do so.
Luongo’s passion about the topic of tech overuse may be partly due to his status of being a long time veteran insider of the big tech. He has had the opportunity to work inside the machine and bear witness to the construction of the matrix we all find ourselves plugged into.
When asked whether he thinks people even desire to free themselves from their addictions to their devices he responds, “People have been slowly but steadily led down this path of tech addiction without even being consciously aware it was happening. I think many of us are craving some guidance and motivation around just how to best go about regularly disconnecting from tech, while reconnecting with what’s important.”
Legendary Life is promising that taking part in their No Phone Challenge for Mental Health Awareness will empower participants to regain balance, focus and presence in their lives while also greatly reducing anxiety and overwhelm. Additionally, regularly disconnecting from your device may very well also help mitigate more severe mental health symptoms that technology overuse has been linked to.
“Look, it’s easy to make yourself feel bad for being addicted to your phones and mindless scrolling. However, tech companies have invested billions of dollars in literally hacking our brains so that they can create sophisticated algorithms that feed us individually crafted content meant to keep us angry, scared, jealous, wanting, and constantly engaged with their platforms. Thus keeping your eyeballs on their advertisers and maximizing their profits.”
If anyone should know about some of the advanced capabilities that tech companies are capable of deploying it’s the Legendary Life co-founder. Luongo spent two and a half decades working for some of the most advanced technology companies in the world. Operating in a little known niche where he worked as a sort of cut-out between many of the national security community’s highly classified, “black programs” and his tech company employers’ senior management. Representing both the interests of his employers in the commercial big tech world as well as the requirements and desires of the various government stakeholders. Over the years Todd went on to run point for the tech companies on many of these secretive, often undisclosed programs. Luongo is hesitant to discuss details of this aspect of his past. Citing non-disclosure and secrecy agreements that he is party to.
Luongo is clear however that this challenge has absolutely nothing to do with issues around privacy or government surveillance or any of the programs between the government and tech companies that came to light in the past decade and continue to make headlines in the post Edward Snowden world. Luongo insists that The No Phone Challenge is simply about mental health, being present, and living a fulfilled, optimized life.
“This challenge isn’t anti-phone, anti-tech, anti-corporate or anti-anything. All of these things can be positive when interacted with consciously and intentionally in the right context. However, they aren’t positive when they are effectively using you.”
Indeed, Legendary Life’s stated goal with this challenge is to empower people to consciously deprogram themselves from the choke hold that their devices currently exert on them. To enable people to once again see their phone, its apps, and the content it connects them to simply as tools to enhance, educate, and connect them to people, places, and things in the real world.
Luongo continues, “It’s about taking back the conscious sovereignty of our own minds by resetting our brains back to “factory settings”. Our collective addiction to our screens has been a catalyst for an unprecedented rise in mental health challenges across all age groups and demographics. One of the biggest tragedies is that it has made it very difficult for many of us to be able to practice being present and engaged in “the real world” and with the environment actually around us. I believe that this is the perfect time to get our phone time and “real-world” time back into balance.”
From the beginning with Legendary Life mental health was front and center. Many people first come to journaling by way of a recommendation from mental health professionals. Legendary Life has been focused on destigmatizing and normalizing the need for regular mental health maintenance and optimization while encouraging people to treat mental health challenges in a similar way as they treat other medical challenges. They are also hoping to use the challenge as a platform to spread awareness about the mental health crisis that we currently face.
“We have witnessed first hand the emergence of this global mental health crisis. We talk a lot with our journaling and affirmations communities about how these practices can often be employed successfully to address anxiety and depression. Additionally, journaling can help address feelings of anger, anxiety, confusion, and overwhelm while also helping one to organize, prioritize, focus, and maintain perspective.”
Luongo goes on to expand on technology overuse and its connection to mental health. “Few would deny that our smartphones are wonderful tools. Some would even argue that they are simply indispensable for being a successful participant in modern society. Our phones help guide us to where we need to go, keep us connected to friends, family, and news from around the world, they record our memories, and even can act as a lifeline when needed. However, too much of anything is a bad thing, and as a society we have become too attached to our phones. This has had a demonstrably negative impact on our collective mental health. It has contributed to everything from a rise in generalized anxiety to increased rates of suicide in teens. Let’s try taking a little bit of a step back and working towards regaining some balance.”
When you touch on very serious topics surrounding mental health it’s natural to strike a serious, and somewhat stoic tone. However, the team at Legendary Life insists that this challenge should be approached in a fun, lighthearted way. Even with a little friendly competition within the participants’ communities.
In conjunction with the launch of the challenge Legendary Life will be publishing a regular series of blogs detailing some of the real world adventures that the no phone challenge has enabled. Todd Luongo kicked off the series with several articles he authored that recounted the many accidental no phone experiences that he had around the world that helped inspire the challenge.
Future blogs in the series will feature stories from other members of the Legendary Life team as well as stories submitted by members of the community who choose to take part in the challenge.
“I travel extensively. Over the past several years I had several unintentional incidents where I was disconnected from my phone in various countries for extensive periods. While these incidents were at times challenging, they also served as the impetus for amazing, life changing adventures that I wouldn’t otherwise have experienced. I detail these experiences in our blog series as a way to inspire and incentivise people to give the No Phone Challenge a try”.
Luongo even developed a free “No Phone Challenge” module for their “Live Your Legendary Life” phone app. So challenge participants can actually use their phones to track their no phone time. Leave it to a former tech industry insider to create a phone app to help encourage you to put down your phone. “The irony of developing a phone app to get people to put down their phones isn’t lost on me. It was intentional. I mean, why not try and beat them at their own game?”
Legendary Life’s No Phone Challenge is live now. They have created a dedicated page on their website with everything you need to take part including links to the phone app, challenge progress badges available for download, detailed challenge guidelines, inspirational blogs, and much more. Visit it here: https://legendarylife.com/nophonechallenge/
Legendary Life contact information: email@example.com, +1 703.625.6983