This Simple Element Of Life Is Becoming Increasingly Hard To Find
We no longer accidentally stumble upon silence in this world. We have to seek it out — sometimes desperately. And that relatively new component of our global culture is creating major problems for both our minds and bodies.
When you fail to go beyond the noise surrounding you and just sit with your thoughts, several things happen physiologically speaking.
First, your body remains in its natural stress response state to some extent, meaning it’s consistently producing cortisol and flooding your system with the hormone (sometimes to an overwhelming level). This chronic state of alertness can lead to excess tension in the body and general feelings of exhaustion and depletion.
Second, your natural ability to think clearly and creatively, and process and retain new information suffers. Constant attention demands wear heavily on the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for high-order thinking, decision-making and problem-solving. And research from Duke Medical School suggests that silence helps us develop new cells in the hippocampus (the region in the brain associated with learning and memory), so when we don’t leave any room for quiet, we ultimately hinder our own brain development.
In this state of physical and mental burnout, you can also bet that we leave very little room for self-reflection, which is required for us to derive true meaning from our existence. So life grows increasingly less significant the more people make noise and the less they observe silence and listen. It’s basically the most depressing feedback loop ever.
The silver lining here is that we are at least beginning to acknowledge en masse how much we actually need silence in our daily lives. Many people are going to great lengths and spending big bucks to secure a healthy sense of quiet through meditation courses, silent retreats and major lifestyle changes. It seems absurd that we now have to pay for the absence of sound, that silence is now very much a luxury good, but such is the world we’ve created for ourselves.
It’s also important to understand that cultivating silence doesn’t just mean abandoning the distractions of your external world. You have to face your inner chatter, as well and come to terms with what it’s saying. Using music-filled headphones to drown out the noise of others is still noise, right? You have to be willing to abandon devices, defy social norms and genuinely tend to your personal needs. It’ll take both commitment and creativity to arrive at a true place of peace, calm and total quiet, but it’s certainly worth the effort.
At the end of the day, man is by nature a social being, but limits clearly exist. And if we haven’t already exceeded them, we’ve come pretty damn close. So in the name of your health and happiness, try to reintroduce a sense of quiet into your days and see what happens. The result could be truly life-changing.