What do you do when you need peace and quiet? Our lives have become steadily and increasingly polluted with environmental noise — some of it self-generated and some of it outside of our control. Leaf blowers, car alarms, barking dogs, television and loud music all bring noise into our lives.
Dozens of scientific studies show noise as a “modern plague” and state how our daily consumption of noise negatively impacts our health and well-being. It increases our stress, lessens our ability to focus and takes a toll on our mind, body and spirit.
Where do you find quiet?
Quiet is experiencing the world as it was before artificial noise was introduced. Quiet is a precious commodity and not only is it disappearing, many are not even noticing. The Hoh Rain Forest in Washington’s Olympic Natural Park has been designated as the Quietest Place in America because it provides quiet that we are hard-pressed to find today.
Although environmental noise is on the rise, some of our daily noise consumption is within our control. Studies have shown that by decreasing the flood of noise your brain receives by just five percent, you can substantially improve your ability to tune in to more positivity and calmness.
Noise can be more than what is audible; it also includes information exposure. Useless information is like “noise” to the brain.
We don’t realize how much negative information we read and hear. Just imagine you are at a party and someone says: “Hi! Did you see the car accident on the freeway? It’s crazy how many accidents this city has had this week, not to mention the shootings in Chinatown. Oh, I see you are drinking vodka. Do you have any idea how many brain cells you are killing by drinking this evening? And by the way, I just saw all this information about how people your age are getting sick more than ever before …”
What would you do? You would likely excuse yourself, but interestingly, people have trouble ignoring negative information.
Being conscious of your daily information consumption and making simple changes in your habits to reduce negative stimuli can make a substantial positive difference. Even if you are unable to control all the noise, you can incorporate a few of the following tips into your routine to decrease your noise intake.
>> If you are alone in the car, leave the radio off for the first five minutes. If you are with someone in the car, have a quiet conversation.
>> Mute all TV commercials and skip Internet commercials.
>> When working or hanging out at home, refrain from listening to music or play music without lyrics.
>> Limit how much news you watch that predicts negative outcomes, which can set you up to stress about things that may or may not happen.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.