Finding Silence in the Noise

Summary:

Intently focusing on something that is beyond the noise allows you to find silence in the midst of the chaos. In this episode, we cover the surprising benefits that silene can bring to your life immediately and the side effects of living in too much noise. You might just be surprised how you can find silence in the noise. 

Article/Transcript:

My children are ages 6 and 3 and like most 6 and 3-year-olds they make a ton of noise. Crying, screaming, playing, singing, acting, dancing, everything you can imagine and often for no reason at all. I don’t think it could get any louder in my house. Well, maybe if we added a few more 6 and 3-year-olds. 

Either way. We were sitting down for dinner and the kids just finished their meals. There was no background noise, no TV, no Pandora, nothing. It was blissful. So much so, that my son made the comment that it was so quiet AND that he liked it! Could you believe it?! It was like the pot calling the kettle black. The very person who generates all of this noise is confessing that he loves the quietness.  

Of course like most 6-year-olds, especially with his sidekick 3-year-old sister, this blissful silence didn’t last for long. Here is what I learned from this experience and frankly my very short time as being a parent. I’ve learned that one, my wife is a great inspiration for these episodes as well since she gave me the title for this episode and two how to find silence in the noise. 

So I found myself drowning out the noise that my kids were making. I think that this is a superpower for most parents. I slowly removed layer by layer of noise – my son talking loudly, my daughter singing a song, the noise from the kitchen, and the cars outside driving by. Now of course, I still heard them but they were not in focus. In this instance, I was focused on enjoying my dinner. I enjoyed this silence for a few moments before I was snapped back into reality. 

And although this is a superpower of parents, this is not a unique skill. Intently focusing on something that is beyond the noise allows you to find silence in the midst of the chaos. Do you recall studying for exams, working in a cubicle farm with noise from every direction, or having a conversation in the middle of noisy sporting events? The same skill of focus that you used here is how you can find silence in a world of noise – albeit short-lived, these moments of intense focus and its resulting silence is refreshing.

Here is what I mean. Research has linked noise pollution to increased blood pressure, sleep loss, and heart disease. These results have led to even more research on the long-term effects of noise. Sure drowning out noise even for a few moments may not sound like much but if you think of the feeling that you gain when you are able to do so, it should lead you to want more noiselessness. 

In recent research about various types of noise, it was found that silence actually provided rather interesting benefits. 

First is the growth of new brain cells – Duke University regenerative biologist Imke Kirste found that silence for approximately two hours a day produced new cells in the part of the brain associated with memory. 

The next benefit is the activation of the brain’s memory – Our brain is a tenacious organ. Even when we are in complete silence, our brains never stop working. It retrieves memories of song and lyrics, conversations and experiences. This allows your brain to exercise the memory portion of the brain. 

Lastly, silence encourages self-reflection – This as you might have guessed is my favorite benefit. There is much to learn about yourself and the world around you through the gift of self-reflection. Without the demands of the world on your brain, silence allows your brain to wander and in that wondering, you may find yourself able to reflect on the past week or day or a particular experience. If you practice mindfulness or other well-being practices, you can be more direct with self-reflection and learn how you can become a better version of yourself. 

You may not have two hours a day to find silence, I know that I don’t, however, finding a few minutes here and there throughout my day has given me huge well-being benefits even in the midst of noisy kids.

4 Well-Being Techniques for Effective Productivity

Summary

  • Learn 4 techniques to instantly become less overwhelmed, anxious and stressed.
  • Understand your unique productivity rhythms and Off Track Triggers
  • #1 is the most counterproductive technique to becoming an all-star producer
  • Grab your free copy of the lesson worksheet here

Transcript:

Here’s the reality. There are a ton of things that are trying to gain our attention. Not only are they gaining our attention, but they are also trying to claw their way into our time. There’s no shortage of this activity.

At work, it’s the million emails that we need to get to by the end of the day; it’s the countless meetings about meetings for a meeting all of which we need to attend; it is the onslaught of text messages about the problems that arise for your product or what-have-you. These are the things that are continuing to claw into our time and take our focus off of productive work.

At home, it’s the ever-growing honey-do list; it’s the gnawing feeling of the new year’s resolution that you haven’t even gotten to yet, and it’s already October, and it’s the commitment that you made to your family about spending quality time.

So what am I getting at? Is there is no shortage of things that are just vying for our attention, which means that we need to have an increased mental focus. This also means that there is an attack on our wellbeing.

When we give too much of our attention and time we become only one thing…overwhelmed. We become stressed and overworked. We need to be able to have a keen focus on our wellbeing. We need to be able to move things forward. We need to be able to manage the plates that we’re balancing and we need to be able to manage our wellbeing.

All of what I described doesn’t even consider the emotional toll of all of these activities much less the emotional toll of all the roles that you play in the stage play call life.

I want to cover four wellbeing techniques for effective productivity. So let’s not even delay. Let’s go directly into it.

#1:  Take a Break.

It’s a little counter-intuitive to productivity, taking a break. It doesn’t make sense when we’re talking about being productive. But since we are talking about being productive from a wellbeing standpoint, it makes perfect sense.

Especially in American culture, we seem to have a badge of honor when we run ourselves ragged [to the point of exhaustion]. We have an issue saying no and accept every task that comes across our desk.This results in becoming overworked, stressed, overwhelmed. And that only causes us to have a mental breakdown at some point.

So what do we need to do?

Take a break. Go ahead and enjoy something new, something novel.

Take a break in between your productive time. In fact, you could use a Pomodoro technique where you have 20 to 25 minutes of productive time and then you have a short break and then another 20 to 25 minutes of productive time. And then another short break. Breaking up your work like this can allow you to stay hyper-focused in this small chunk of time.

#2 Use visualization

First, visualize your work. You have to work in front of you, but it’s on a spreadsheet or in a notebook or worst, in your email. This lack of clearly visualizing your work causes you to miss things or realizing them only in the last minute which causes you to become overwhelmed.

Since your work is not really, in front of you, we should make it so that it is. Put it on post-it notes, index cards, or whatever you have access to in a moment and place it in front of you.

This does two things: One, it really takes it out of where it’s hiding in your notebook to spreadsheets, wherever you may have it. And, two, it places it right in front of you as a reminder of the things that you need to get done.

Now don’t allow this to overwhelm you because it can. If you put too many things up there. You may have this gnawing feeling an what it is, is a gentle reminder of the work that you need to get done.

The second part of using visualization is the reality that we have is that things are gonna pop up in our mind at any given time. The thoughts, ideas of suggestions are going to sneak in and they’re going to try to distract us during our time of being productivity. An exercise we can do here is imagine our mind as a theater screen. And on that theater screen, we have the ability to see our thoughts, ideas, and suggestions come across the screen. Now imagine that they come across and the leave the screen like credits. In this exercise, we’re trying to detach ourselves from the ideas and suggestions and thoughts that are coming up by visualizing them on the theater screen and ending.

Alternatively, you can allow those thoughts, ideas, suggestions to come and dump it onto paper. Take a moment and write down the thoughts, ideas, and suggestions so that you can unload it from the brain and you can focus on the productive work that you are trying to accomplish.

#3 Obliterate procrastination.

I’m the worst. At Christmas time I wait until the last minute to get my presents. But procrastination doesn’t always work out in our best favor. Surely, more times than not, it doesn’t work out in our favor at all.

Procrastination can cause a lot of stress and anxiety about the work that needs to be done. Anxiety is one of the secret killers, if you would, in American society. It is the secret killer because it doesn’t show its face and we often think we just need to “suck it up”.

When we are considering obliterating procrastination, it means that we need to make a commitment. We need to have a consistent commitment to delivering work. A consistent commitment to delivering value. What I mean by this is we have time during the week that we dedicate towards whatever we need to do. This may mean, we need to have the necessary conversations with our loved ones.

Say we commit to setting aside two hours to focus on writing a for our Blog, for instance, or to do a video, like this. This happens every week around the same time and everyone is aware of what’s going on. So when we are able to establish these consistent commitments in our week, in our month, in our year, we’re able to move things forward and obliterate procrastination.

#4: Count to Clarity

Again, the reality is things are gonna pop in our minds, people are going to come into our offices, people are going to distract us. This is a fact of life so we need to be able to get back to ‘center’ as quickly as possible.

One strategy we can use to get back to ‘center’ is to count to clarity. What this means is that you count the numbers as high as you need to to get back to ‘center’, but you do so slowly with deliberate inhale and exhale breaths. What this does is slows everything down: it allows you to focus on the thing that you need to get back to; it allows you to detach from the thing that causes you to get off course.

This exercise, counting to clarity, gives you the ability to calm your nerves, calm your monkey mind, and allow you to get to ‘center’ where you can then go right back into a productive mode.

Bonus #5: Find your Flow

If you’re interested in a video about flow, let me know in the comments down below. Essentially, Flow is a transcendent psychological experience where you get into the zone and you are hyper-focused. As a result, you’re hyper-productive. In Flow, your self-regulating self diminishes. You’re not questioning the thoughts and ideas that are popping up as you’re trying to focus.

There are many activities that you can do to find your flow. One of my personal favorite that allows me to get into flow pretty quickly is listening to drum and bass music. If you are a runner, you go for a run to achieve a “runner’s high” get into general adrenaline and endorphins pumping through your system that helps you get into a flow state. Alternatively, reading a good book and finding something new and novel can kick you into flow as well. Finding your flow is unique to you. It is a great tool, not only for productivity but certainly for having a transcendent experience where you go learn more about yourself than you ever think you can possibly do.

The thing that we’re trying to achieve here is a greater self-awareness and as GI Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle”. The other half of the battle are the techniques that I shared with you in this video. And to win both sides means that you win the war.

I’m Ralph Plaskett. I am so happy to share these strategies with you. Let me know which one is your favorite and which one you’re going to apply to your life in the comments down below. So glad that you could join me here today and until next week, enjoy the greatness that is life.

How to Stay Present

Summary:

  • You’ll understand what a time machine mindset is and the effects that it currently has on your life.
  • You’ll gain 3 strategies to avoid a time machine mindset and realize the gifts of the present
  • You’ll learn a key strategy on dealing with the past you want to change
  • You can access the worksheet that comes with this training here
  • Personal Transformation just got easier! Learn more about the Human Transformation Canvas and how you can leverage it in your practice.

Transcript:

Could have, would have, should have. Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. What could have been? What should have been? Imagine what could have been only if I did.

You see, we’ve all said some variation of these phrases sometime throughout our lives.

We’ve all come to the point where we wish we turned left instead of right.

We all come to the point where we went back in the past and we decided, “Man! I should’ve said this instead of that.”

We’ve all come to the point where we wish we, invested in this oddly named company called Google that did this thing called search engines back in the day.

We all been there where we’ve jumped into our time machines and went back into the past to wishing we could have changed something for the better. You see, science fiction is riddled with stories just like these: The person goes back in time to change the outcome of their present or what they expect the future to be. They go back in their time machine and they expect to change time and make it all better.

What we learn through science fiction, is that we have no capability of controlling life to get the exact results that we imagined [by traveling back in time]. Yet, that doesn’t stop us from trying. Individually, we go into our time machines and think about a time where we wish we could have changed something and in that change, the future would have been completely different, often better.

We imagined this state where we think that things would have been so much better only if this one small detail change completely. Now that may be the case, but we would never know. The reality is, we don’t have the capability to go back in time, and even if we did this, science fiction has told us that it will not come out the way that we imagine.

The past is the past. There is nothing that we can do about it, but the present is a gift.

You see, so many of us we get in this time machine mentality (mindset) where we dwell in the past. When we dwell in the past only two things can happen: First we get disappointed. We are disappointed that we didn’t make those necessary changes that would have resulted in some better outcome. Second, we get depressed. We get depressed because we weren’t able to make those changes. This is not an empowered state of being yet we carry ourselves to this time machine and we go back to the past.

Don’t think that it is just the past that we are concerned about. There is also a challenge in the future. Many of us project ourselves to the future where we come to a state of being anxious. We observe this future outcome and we become enamored with it. We love it. We want it now. The problem is it’s not here now but there in some distant future. Because of this, we [develop] anxiety around the gap. This gap is between the present and the future outcomes or the expected imagined future outcomes.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am a complete advocate for planning and strategy and utilizing your creative enterprise in order to create the world that we live in. Everything that we have ever encountered, every human achievement created have resulted from the leveraging of our creative enterprise. What does that mean? That means that everything that you’ve come to learn, value and love was once thought of and seen in the future and that person or persons or entity brought it from the future to present.

How did they do that? Did they jump in a time machine and capture ‘the thing’ and bring it to the present?

What they did to realize those outcomes was asked, “what are the gaps? What are the knowledge, capability, and personal development gaps do I presently have that is prohibiting me from being able to realize that future outcome?” When we do that type of exercise, then we can build the necessary we could build the necessary capabilities in order to realize the future outcome.

So what am I getting at?

If you want to be healthier, for example, don’t dwell on the fact that you just had a plate of pancakes. Instead, figure out what are the commitments that you need to make in order to achieve the healthy lifestyle you desire.
If you want to be a businessperson, binge-watching Shark Tank or The Profit is not going to do you justice. You can’t duplicate what you saw on TV. You can’t duplicate, from your couch, the connections, the capital, the blood, sweat, and tears of entrepreneurship. What you can do is own and understand what you need and then go out there and get it.

If you want a healthier, more loving family, you can’t dwell on the fact that you didn’t have that in your past. But what you can do, in the present, is love on your family.

When we are able to stay in the present and realize the gift that we have in the present, we can then surrender our past. When we are able to stay in the present and realize the gift that we have in the present, we can build the necessary capabilities in the present in order to realize that future.

There are three ways to stay in the present:

#1: We know one, we talked about it this whole time. Build the future by staying grounded in the present. Now again, I’m an advocate of leveraging your creative enterprise. Use your imagination and the theater of your mind in order to see what is or what could be. Bring that forward and say, what am I missing in order to realize this thing here in the future, and then build the necessary skills.

#2: We need to be grounded in gratitude. Gratitude opens up so much for us. You see in gratitude, we can realize the gifts and have an appreciation for the present. In gratitude we can understand what is valuable to us and in that value, again, we can surrender the past and we can shape the future.

#3: Equip yourself for the future. Again, we talked about this several times. When we are able to equip ourselves, we have to do the necessary work. We have to figure out what the gap is that we need to fill in and then we need to figure out how are we going to get there? Are we going to get a coach or we’re going to get a mentor? What education do we need to go and get how we’re going to achieve that education? Who do we need to talk to? What do we need to do in order to realize this thing?

You have more capability and more capacity than you could imagine. When we allow ourselves to get into our time machines and we go to the past, we become depressed and disappointed. Or we go into our time machines and project ourselves to the future we become anxious about the gap between the present and the future state. Stay in the present. The present is the gift of shaping a future outcome and surrendering of the past that you would have loved to change. This gift is not only a present for you but for everyone around you.

I’m Ralph Plaskett and thank you for joining me this week.