I find silence to be grossly underestimated. We live in an era of permanent distraction. Companies use loud, aggressive marketing in the form of advertisements to grab your attention and get you to buy whatever it is they’re selling. Our smartphones have become distraction devices that instead of boosting our productivity, and increase our focus, are loaded of applications that send notifications indiscriminately, connecting us to real-time events instantly.
Over time, we have been lured as a society towards a new norm of instant information and notifications, and as individuals, it has become increasingly more difficult to enjoy silence and quietness in our daily lives. The rise of buzzling, cosmopolitan and ecletic cities, full of people and cars all day every day means everything is now more accessible and reachable than ever. We seem to be more connected than ever, at the cost of our personal selves.
This is clearly torpedoing our deep focus ability and impacting our mental performance. That’s why silence sanctuaries have been created, such as libraries, and noise pollution laws regulate and restrict noise in different areas and times of the day. This has lead to warning signs that constantly remind us of remaining quiet in these silence zones.
We need silence to focus and relax. In fact, noise pollution can have a tremendously negative impact in our health, and knowingly or not, we contribute to generating noise every day. It is urgent that we learn to accept and appreciate silence. For the benefit of our community and our own selves.
Richard Yates said: “Never say anything that doesn’t improve on silence.”, and that’s a great start. I try to keep small talk and non-constructive criticism away, as I don’t believe they bring anything of value. But I also try not to make noise, in general, when, for example, moving furniture, or when having a phone conversation (that is, I don’t maintain conversations in small, enclosed spaces, like buses or trains).
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” - Ram Dass.