Please see below selected quietness-related change.
- Psyche claimed that rest is as essential to a good life, and a productive career, as work. Overwork is bad for individuals and organisations: a long period without adequate rest burns people out and wrecks company productivity. A deep dive into the lives of history’s most accomplished scientists, writers and even generals reveals that they laboured far fewer hours than do many people in today’s industrialised Western societies, and they crafted daily routines that balanced periods of intensive labour with downtime.
- In his Letter to Lucilius, Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca claimed to be able to study despite living above a noisy bathhouse. Seneca was not only able to concentrate, but saw this as a test of his Stoicism and mental fortitude. Ultimately, argued Seneca, noise only disturbs us insofar as it resonates with our own emotional turmoil.
- The pandemic caused the largest drop in global seismic noise in recorded history. Big Think columnist, Dr. Marcelo Gleiser noted that appreciating silence allows us to connect with our natural surroundings. It is important for all of us to learn to be quiet and still - in order to hear the sound of leaves falling and the birds singing.
- Aun Abdi, host of the the weekly “Book Talk Today” podcast believes that there is a level of quietness that you get from really trying to understand why you’re doing things. If you’re constantly consuming information, whether it be from podcasts, music, news, articles, YouTube videos - you’re just consuming noise. You’re not really taking much in. It’s a distraction from what you actually need to do.
- Maria Popova provided a reminder to us to break the momentum of busyness that fuels “the sadness of never understanding ourselves.” “Make a place to sit down. Sit down. Be quiet…” , so begins Wendell Berry’s “How to Be a Poet, “The impulse to create begins… in a tunnel of silence,” wrote Adrienne Rich in her tremendous lecture on art and freedom. “Every real poem is the breaking of an existing silence.” For Popova, no poet breaks the silence with silence, nor slices through its vitalising, clarifying, and transcendent power, with more elegance than Pablo Neruda in a poem titled “Keeping Quiet,” written in the 1950s and posthumously published in the 1974 bilingual collection Extravagaria.
- Recent research recasts silence as a productive force, one that results in more satisfying outcomes for both parties during bargaining. A paper, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, described how pausing for at least three seconds before speaking allows parties time to respond with more meaningful rebuttals and counter arguments.
- The School of Life (TSOL) believes that, nowadays, almost all of us wish we could be calmer. It’s one of the distinctive longings of the modern age. Across history, people have tended to seek out adventure and excitement. But most of us have had a bit too much of that now. The desire to be more tranquil and focused is the new, ever more urgent priority. A lot of agitation is caused by an unrealistic sense of how unusual difficulty is. We are oppressed by unhelpful images of how easy it is to achieve and how normal it is to succeed. The stories that officially circulate about what relationships and careers are like tend fatally to downplay the darker realities, leaving many of us not only upset, but upset that we are upset, feeling persecuted as well as miserable. TSOL argues that we need to change our points of reference about what life is like. We need - in the broadest sense - better art, a kind that takes us more truthfully into the realities of relationships, the workplace and our 3am panics. We need to make sure we are surrounded by accurate case studies of the ordinary miseries of daily life.
- Half a century ago, Paul Goodman wrote a taxonomy of the nine kinds of silence. In Speaking and Language, which became his last published work, the novelist, poet, playwright, and psychotherapist Goodman examined the types of silence present in life.
- “There are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout,” Henry David Thoreau observed in contemplating how silence ennobles speech. A year earlier, he had written in his journal: “I wish to hear the silence of the night, for the silence is something positive and to be heard.” Today, as we find ourselves immersed in a culture that increasingly mistakes loudness for authority, vociferousness for voice, screaming for substance, Maria Popova believes that we seem to have forgotten what Susan Sontag reminded us half a century ago — that “silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech,” that it has its own aesthetic, and that learning to wield it is among the great arts of living.
- Paul Goodman wrote in his 1972 taxonomy of the nine kinds of silence. But where, asks Maria Popova, does the modern soul go to commune with the cosmos in a civilisation increasingly savaged by noise? Where do we find, and how do we protect, those places where, in the lovely words of the poet Wendell Berry, “one’s inner voices become audible [and,] in consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives”? Popova points to acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton who has devoted his life collecting more than 100 recordings from silent places is the idea that “there is a fundamental frequency for each habitat” - a tonal quality that shapes the sense of place and the quality of presence. What emerges for Popova is the embodied awareness that silence, like the art of sculpture, is the removal of excess material so that the true form - of one’s consciousness, of the world, of life itself - can be revealed.
- Cities deserted. Flight-paths quiet. The roads virtually empty. One of the new experiences that the global lockdown of 2020 gave people was a greater silence or, more accurately, a greater range of silences. Now, you might think of silence as a cheap commodity. Virtually everyone can access it and there’s an inexhaustible supply of the stuff. After all, isn’t silence just what is left when there’s nothing more interesting going on? But, as Kate McLoughlin, Professor of Literature at Oxford learned since she began writing a literary history of silence in 2018, there are rich intellectual traditions informing the act of not saying anything.
- Indeed, since lockdowns began, there has been an unprecedented reduction in human-created noise. Human movements have lessened, the circle of existence is closer, people are more still. As the din of human activity has quieted down, people around the world have reported hearing an increase in the songs of birds, the chirping of insects, and the myriad sounds of non-human life.
- Many people find that the second they attempt to sit still and quiet their thoughts, the “monkey mind”- a restless, chattering creature- takes over. Monkey mind might feel like a modern phenomenon, but the concept dates back to Japanese and Chinese Buddhist teachings over 1,500 years old, where the monkey represented human consciousness.
- Actor Jared Leto claimed that he had emerged from a 12-day “silent meditation in the desert” to find a “very different world… We had no idea what was happening outside the facility,” he wrote. Such sitting in silence, also known as insight or vipassana meditation, has been around for at least a couple of millennia. Many say this is the no-frills form of meditation the Buddha taught. Today, retreats designed for visitors to sit, walk, eat, and work in silence for days on end are attracting not only celebrities, but Silicon Valley acolytes and other “performance optimisers” who aim to “defrag [their] hard-drive” or “hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it.”
- Those who can’t get away can dip their toe into silence with a small-scale silencing at home. Tricycle: The Buddhist Review challenged its readers to practice the art once a day, and had a how-to from a mindfulness teacher that served as a guide for a several-hour “mini-self-retreat.
- For The School of Life, our single most important move is acceptance. There is no need - on top of everything else - to be anxious that we are anxious. Mood is no sign that our lives have gone wrong, merely that we are alive. A calm life isn’t one that’s always perfectly serene. It is one where we are committed to calming down more readily, where we strive for more realistic expectations; where we can understand better why certain problems are occurring, we can be adept at finding a consoling perspective. The progress is limited and imperfect, but genuine.
- The earliest documented noise complaint in history concerns a bad night’s sleep. The 4,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh recounts how one of the gods, unable to sleep through humanity’s racket, opts “to exterminate mankind.” Noise can still provoke people to murderous extremes, especially when the emitter disturbs the receiver at home: after repeated attempts to quiet his raucous neighbor, a Texas father of two, perturbed by loud music at 2 a.m., called the police, who came, left, and returned less than an hour later, after the man had allegedly shot his neighbour three times.