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.