It's always more comfortable to take action. It is the negotiator who can't handle the uncomfortable lull in the conversation, the artist who keeps fiddling with her finished work or the child who has to do what he was just told not to do. The absence of something is always more frightening than having undesired results from our actions.

If we embraced silence as part of the natural ebb and flow of our lives, then we would be stronger, smarter and savvier when it is actually time to take action. Meditation, yoga and other practices can help get your mind into a clearer space.

You can also just stop talking.

A recent Duke University study found that quiet actually improves memory and awareness, per Nautilus Magazine:

Kirste found that two hours of silence per day prompted cell development in the hippocampus, the brain region related to the formation of memory, involving the senses. This was deeply puzzling: The total absence of input was having a more pronounced effect than any sort of input tested.

Here's how Kirste made sense of the results. She knew that "environmental enrichment," like the introduction of toys or fellow mice, encouraged the development of neurons because they challenged the brains of mice. Perhaps the total absence of sound may have been so artificial, she reasoned--so alarming, even--that it prompted a higher level of sensitivity or alertness in the mice.

Like taking a short nap or planning a blank day, creating quiet time is a conscious act towards productivity disguised as a leisure activity. We schedule power meetings, brainstorms, hackathons and vacations. Why aren't we scheduling silence? It is worth blocking off a daily hour of quiet - not inactivity, but silence - and seeing how it changes your productivity. 

Published on: Mar 29, 2016
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