How to deal with the ‘noise’ of daily life
We have a lot going on. Work, family, friends. An increasingly connected world, that sometimes feels like it is being piped direct into our already overloaded brains via our social media feeds and our appetite for 24 hour rolling news. It sometimes feels like it’s only on those increasingly rare occasions when we manage to shut it all out that we actually get a chance to enjoy the peace and quiet of just living our lives. Here are a few thoughts on how we can do that more often.
Only engage meaningfully with things
As I say, we have a lot going on. And so my first piece of advice is to not try and do it all, unless we do it fully and in a conscious way. This is actually something we already know to be good for us, whether we actually do it or not. When we are sat in bed, last thing at night before we go to sleep, scrolling endlessly through Instagram feeds, we know that we’re not really taking any of it in, at least in a meaningful way. Instead, words, images, information, headlines, comments, all become part of a stream that we allow to wash over our brain, almost like white noise.
But we actually do have control over the volume button for this kind of noise – and in fact the on-off switch too. So, it is important we remember this sometimes and move proactively to only engage with things if we are able to give them our fully focused attention.
Build more space between things
How often have you been working hard on something, only to find that actually you are already worrying about the next thing you are going to be doing? Or, you might be trying to make a start on a project, and you find yourself thinking back to a difficult conversation you’ve just had, or a job you’ve just done.
When we don’t focus on what we are doing in the present moment, it doesn’t just have an impact on the quality of what we’re trying to do (although it does). It also has the effect of creating a huge amount of irrelevant noise around whatever it is you are doing now, distracting you from what you should be focusing on.
So, the next time you are working on something, or having a conversation with someone, or driving a car – do nothing else. Focus completely on what you are doing, and enjoy the quiet, peaceful focus of the present moment – without the noisy intrusion of the past or future. And when you’re done, stop, and add a bit of space into your life before you move onto the next job.
Take a break from your device
OK – this is a really obvious one I know, but it bears repeating. If you don’t think you are addicted to your phone or your tablet, go away for the weekend and try and deliberately leave it behind. I’ll bet that you’ll find it almost impossible: FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out is one of the defining terrors of our age, and its power over us isn’t to be taken lightly.
We see our phones and our connected devices as our links to the real world – whereas in reality they are actually putting up barriers between us and the living and breathing people around us. Without realising it, we can find that we are quickly caught in an endless loop of trying to satisfy our digital itch. So, lock your phone in a drawer (even for just half an hour), and have a meaningful conversation with someone (even if it’s just yourself).
A big part of cutting out some of the noise of daily life is just simply about being more conscious of what makes up all that noise. Rather than letting it all just wash over us, we need to be more aware of the world around us and how we react to it, in all its forms. Key to this is being more more conscious in your interactions with other people, whether online or face to face. It is very easy to become detached and disassociated when our bodies face the barrage of stimuli we experience every day.
So, don’t shut down in the face of all this noise – just be more deliberate about what parts of it you choose to listen to.