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The 52:52:52 project, launching both on this site and on social media in early 2024 will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published in mid 2024. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site and on social media in the coming months.

This site addresses what's changing, in our own lives, in our organisations, and in wider society. You'll learn about key changes across more than 150 areas, ranging from ageing and time, through nature and animals, to kindness and love...and very much else inbetween.

Halcyon's aim is to help you reflect on how you can better deal with related change in your own life.

What's Changing? - Quietness

Quietness

 

Please see below selected recent quietness-related change.

 

See also:

 

February 2024

 

December 2023

  • For The School of Life, calm is the meaning of life. By which is meant that calm is the thing to which everything else should ultimately contribute and be justified by. Plenty of things are important and notable: money, friends, art, work, but if we probe hard at why they matter, if we push upstream, we eventually find that it’s because of their power to contribute to something else, to what the Romans poetically knew as the ‘summum bonum’, the highest of all goods; a steady unruffled peaceful state of mind. 

 

November 2023

 

July 2023

  • Claiming to be the world's first phone-free tourist island, Ulko-Tammio, in the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park, urged visitors to switch off their smart devices, unplug from digital distractions and engage more intimately with their surroundings. Health experts suggest that taking such a break, even briefly, from constant digital stimulation can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Paired with the proven health benefits of being in nature, the island's proposed digital fast aims to significantly contribute to mental wellbeing.

 

March 2023

  • "Niksen" roughly meaning "doing nothing" in Dutch, helps to manage stress or recover from burnout by allowing yourself episodes of minimal activity with no purpose. Niksen doesn't only imply avoiding endless scrolling on social media. It's also about letting go of mindfulness practices such as meditation or sports so a person can "just be,". Niksen might be easier  for retirees with time on their hands than busy employees or entrepreneurs, but it may also be valuable for those looking to boost their productivity, as while some pressure can serve as a motivator, breaks allow our brains to rest and focus and find clearer ideas, claimed researchers.

 

February 2023

 

December 2022

 

August 2022

  • While some people thrive on social interaction at work, others need more space and one-on-one communication. In a podcast, Isabel Berwick looked for answers on how introverts could get their voices heard in a working world that too often favours the loudest voices. For those managing introverts, Berwick's guests suggest looking for qualities of introverts because they might not be able to voice them in group discussions.

 

June 2022

  • The Dutch concept of ‘niksen’ simply means the act of doing nothing - doing nothing on purpose, without purpose. This increasingly popular relaxation and de-stressing technique forces us to renounce all control and just stop. It could be something as simple as listening to music, looking at your surroundings out of the window, lying on the sofa, walking aimlessly or just hanging around – as long as it is done without purpose and not in-order to achieve something or be productive. Where mindfulness is about being present, Niksen is about carving out time to be. With global stress levels rising, doing nothing is increasingly poised as a positive and stress-reducing technique

 

April 2022

  • A Harvard PhD candidate found that, among non-industrial societies studied in the 1970s and 1980s, the most common activity during the day was doing absolutely nothing. As in, zero. Not farming, not chatting, not sleeping, not cooking, not weaving. Just nothing.

 

January 2022

  • Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton collected sounds from around the world. He’s recorded inside Sitka spruce logs in the Pacific Northwest, thunder in the Kalahari Desert, and dawn breaking across six continents. An attentive listener, he says silence is an endangered species on the verge of extinction. He defines real quiet as presence - not an absence of sound but an absence of noise.
  • The School of Life believes that, for the last two centuries, a "cult" has been spreading widely and rapidly around the world devoted instead to a single, striking ideal: busyness. This cult of busyness insists that a good life is one of constant activity and application, where every hour of the day must be filled with intense activity. This mindset isn’t only making us tired and stressed. It’s based on a fatal misunderstanding of what we actually need to be productive: namely, regular periods of inactivity that allow our minds to work effectively. Quiet days, in which nothing much happens and we don’t accomplish anything (days the busy person would consider dull and wasted) can be deeply fruitful.

 

December 2021

  • 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.
  • The School of Life noted that downtime is undervalued in today’s busy, always-on world. But for most of human history, rest – time in which we can recharge the mental and physical batteries we use while labouring – was prized as a gift. To Aristotle, work was drudgery and necessity; only in leisure could we cultivate our mental and moral abilities, and become better people. In The Sabbath (1951), Rabbi Abraham Heschel argued that, in Judaism, this day of rest was more than just a pause in the week, it was a ‘palace in time … made of soul, of joy and reticence’.

 

November 2021

 

October 2021

  • 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.

 

September 2021

 

July 2021

  • 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

 

April 2021

  • 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.

 

October 2020

 

September 2020

  • “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.

 

August 2020

 

May 2020

  • Cities desertedFlight-paths quietThe 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. 

 

March 2020

 

October 2018

  • 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.

 

Pre 2018

  • The BBC broadcast a documentary series in the quiet, previously largely unexplored rainforests of Guyana, but the fight to protect diversity should also take place in our local environments. 
  • However, quietness can have its downside, if it heralds the long-feared "silent spring". 
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