A Little Silence Can Heal Harried, Overconnected Lives
Updated: Apr 17
“We are living at the pace of machines” – Pico Iyer
and “it’s faster than the heart can digest.” – Mark Nepo
The speed with which we race through our days and through our lives is exhausting. Our lives are busier. The world is crazier. Is this really progress?
Add to this the constant bombardment and relentless noise of the world around us which we allow to dominate our lives, night and day – all from the little screen in our hand.
“Never before has humanity had such a bombardment around the clock.” – Pico Iyer
Bombardment and silence
Studies have shown that today’s constant demands on our attention causes us mental and physical stress. The always-connected world allows less and less time for our minds to power down and recoup. Our devices are constantly on and so are we.
According to a 2018 Deloitte study, the average American touches their phone 52 times a day. Altogether, we are spending over four hours a day staring at screens.
Consider all that global energy expended in the constant fluttering from one thing to the next, the scrolling, the checking, the manic feelings of needing to find something new after yet another refresh.
Described as an “emerging psychological disorder brought on by the advancement of technology”, FOMO is when people feel the need to be constantly connected to the lives of others for fear of either missing out or that others might be having more fun. Like that's possible.
Not surprisingly, studies have linked such fears with increased social media use. Today we have immediate access to the behavior, feelings and opinions of everyone we’ve ever met and will never meet in an incessant scroll of minutia.
FOMO and the explosion of social media have been linked to increased levels of stress, depression, feelings of jealousy and inferiority, irrational thoughts and even loneliness – especially in younger people.
The good news is that with age, this fear can dissipate.
We have the opportunity to care less about what everyone else is doing and instead chart a course, shut out the noise and focus on what we want to grow in our own lives.
“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others.
Unfold your own myth.” – Rumi
Focus vs. disruption
We do our best work when we can keep the world at bay and shut out the noise. Being able to focus on a task in silence has been shown to aid our imagination and creative problem-solving. It helps with our concentration, motivation and our perseverance over time.
In contrast, the constant disruptions and updates of anyone no, everyone, just continually interrupt that focus. Noise increases errors and harms performance. It decreases our drive and stick-to-itiveness.
With the constant scroll of interruptions, we have become masters at multitasking. Too bad it doesn’t work. A Stanford study found that multitasking is just not as effective as focusing on one thing at a time. It reduces the ability to recall information or pay attention to the task at hand.
Noise harms and silence heals
The unending stimuli is stressing us out, making the rarer and rarer sounds of silence all the sweeter. And all the more necessary.
Science now shows that silence can be the elixir for our frenzied days.
When we disconnect, our brains are able to relax and refresh from the daily onslaught. As noise elevates stress hormones, silence has been found to relieve anxiety.
But beyond the calming effects, quiet time has shown to reboot our brains by increasing memory function and even IQ. Small doses of silence can actually make us smarter.
“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” – Rumi
Drowned out by the world
It is only by shutting out the noisy voices of the world that we can have any chance at all to hear our own.
Being so connected to everything and everyone all the time is ironically, separating us from ourselves. We need quiet to feel our own feelings and to reflect on our life away from everyone else having a say.
Trading in just a fraction those hours wasted swiping and clicking for a little silence, will pay dividends for our mental, emotional and physical well-being.
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