I’m asking you to be quiet. For your own good.
Every morning, when I was a kid, I’d wake up, get dressed and head to the kitchen for breakfast, where I’d be greeted by the voice of… Bruce Grant on WOOD radio. My mother was also there, being busy at something which I don’t recall. But the radio – that I remember. I even remember the phone number for Mulick Florist, whose commercial ran every day: CHerry 51165. And when I came from school? It was the TV. That was probably on from the time my mom left the kitchen after breakfast until bedtime. Just another member of the family.
Fast forward to the time when I was now the mom, with 3 young children. In my kitchen was not a radio, but a television – which was on from the moment I entered the room. Add to that the noise and confusion of kids, 2 dogs, and the occasional phone or doorbell ringing, and you had quite an auditory overload situation.
During those days, I often found myself stressed out, on edge and lacking in patience. Pretty much not a fun mom. Things would settle down once everyone went off to school and work, at which time the dogs and I could settle into our routines. I am not sure when I started to put two and two together that perhaps it was the NOISE that was causing me to morph into this less than attractive alter ego. But one morning I tried not turning on the TV. Yes, there was still everything else going on, but, miraculously, I now found it so much more manageable! I realized then that I have a threshold for noise, and that I was well over it every single day. What I needed was a healthy dose of QUIET.
Fast forward again to today. I submit to you that what the world needs is a healthy dose of QUIET!
These days I rarely put on my TV and never add any noise-creating element in the mornings, if I can help it. The polarizing and polarized world we now live in gives us WAY too many opportunities to debate, or unfortunately, more likely scream at each other. It is an assault on the senses. For one who is now aware of an auditory sensitivity, it is one opportunity I choose not to engage in.
Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz have written an excellent piece in The Harvard Business Review entitled “The Busier You Are, The More You Need Quiet Time.” They note that studies have shown that “taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work, and lead.” Many successful people are just that because they have incorporated quiet time into their lives.
Another thing having quiet time does is gives you practice on being comfortable with silence. It allows to you take a pause before answering – something that would benefit a great many individuals these days! It gives you a chance to listen – not only to the other person, but to yourself. It gives you a chance to respond, rather than react.
Give yourself the gift of silence. If you’re not use to it, start small. Turn off your radio or television for 15 minutes. Take a walk in nature. If you work in a space with a lot of conversation and clatter, or find yourself NOT in the quiet commute car too often, invest in some noise-cancelling headphones. Don’t put on loud music, but instead listen to the silence or a soft, soothing serenade.
Waking up and listening to the radio first thing in the morning was fine when I was a child, when I lived a much less stressful life in a much less stressful time. But today, the sound of birds is about all I will allow. And that is enough.
I’m asking you to try it. Be quiet, at least for a while. For your own good – and ours.