“The rhythms of nature remind us to tune in to our own natural rhythms, so we know when to surge forth and when to relax. ”
— Beth Kempton
Living in the modern world brings many conveniences, but it’s not all snow cones and sunshine. One thing we deal with as modern human beings is an exorbitant amount of noise. Noise can be audible sounds coming from the environment, or it can be the mental cacophony inside your head. Whether it’s the sounds of traffic-filled streets and honking horns, or the endless chatter going on between your ears, noise pollution is a real nuisance.
If you’re like most people, internal and external noise can be a constant distraction that can debilitate performance or cause cognitive paralysis. For those who experience mental overstimulation, silence becomes a goal we chase.
But is silence the antidote to noise pollution?
Noise shows its face in many forms. Common culprits include vehicles, music, tools, phones, computers, games, and loud, talkative people. These noisy things affect our ability to receive, process, and output information. Sounds distract us and impede our ability to concentrate. Our brains get overloaded, which makes it harder for us to think clearly, leading to poorer decision-making performance. Our brains simply cannot process all the incoming noise.
When we suffer from the effects of noise, our natural tendency is to seek a quiet place. Perhaps it’s an empty room, a library, or putting on noise-canceling headphones. In the modern world, quiet places are becoming more rare, and sometimes when we enter a quiet space, it can be shocking. After having our senses bombarded with so much information, silence can feel calming. But is this the environment in which we are most productive?
While silence creates a space that is more conducive to managing sensory input, it can also become something that impedes productivity. A quiet room with its buzzing ballasts and fluorescent lights can make us feel sleepy and dull our awareness. The environment can also be uninteresting, and in the case of special rooms designed to be completely silent, the quietude can disorient some people.
To be in its most productive…