How Falling In A Lake Became An Unexpected Life Lesson For Chip Gaines

In a dare that went wrong, Chip Gaines of "Fixer Upper' fame ended up falling into Waco Lake fully clothed. And beyond any potentially wounded pride — he'd been dared to walk across a beam over the lake — Gaines forgot to take his cell phone out of his pocket, and it ended up ruined. And before he replaced the phone, he came to a realization that maybe the relationship he'd had with his smartphone wasn't very healthy.

In his Chip's Corner column in the spring 2018 issue of "Magnolia Journal," Gaines told the story of ruining his phone and choosing to opt for a decidedly non-smart phone — a flip phone — to use for the months until his smartphone contract allowed him to upgrade was a blessing in disguise: "I began to feel like maybe my stupidity of jumping into that lake was now giving me an opportunity to shake things up a bit. I know some folks who have taken breaks from their phones and I thought, 'Maybe I should do that!,'" as reported by People.

Chip Gaines found his phone was becoming an unhealthy distraction

Going without his smartphone and using a flip phone instead was a challenge, especially at first. "I didn't realize how accustomed I had become to the savvy efficiencies of smartphones until I was without one," Chip Gaines explained in his Chip's Corner column, but it gave him a chance to realize how he'd been using his phone in a harmful way.

In just one signal of his unhealthy relationship with his phone, Gaines described a scenario that's likely a familiar one for many of us and that helped signal to him that he needed a change: "Sometimes I'd wake up in the middle of the night to check something, and then would inevitably end up responding to emails and messages. Before I knew it, there I was scrolling through Twitter at 4 a.m." It sounds like Gaines learned first hand what researchers have confirmed; looking at your phone in the middle of the night is not good for you. When you should look at your phone for the last time before bed is about 30 minutes before, and that's it. 

Chip Gaines has reframed his relationship with his smartphone

Chip Gaines realized that his smartphone did more than just cause potential problems with his sleep. Gaines wrote that, "Constant simultaneous communication leaves us lacking the ability to give one person our undivided attention, and if that one person is my wife or our kids, then I'm in some real trouble." That's another moment that's been confirmed by research. Boston University School of Medicine found that increased phone usage during dinner by a parent lowered the number of positive interactions they had with their kids.

Gaines explained the main takeaway that he got from his unexpected fall into Waco Lake. "This one life is far too precious to be held hostage by what I might miss on the screen. If I am serving it rather than it serving me, it has ceased to be a help to me at all — no matter how I might want to rationalize it." It perhaps wasn't the most comfortable way to learn the lesson, but it's one we hope he's still taking to heart today.