Is the Constant Hum of Technology Stifling Your Creative Voice?
I love technology and being born in 1969, I’ve welcomed everything from the VHS recorder to Bluetooth technology.
I love staying connected with friends around the world without rifling through my address book or waiting to call during off-peak times. I love the convenience of Googling queries instead of going to the library to consult the Encyclopedia Britannica. And I love watching my favourite shows on the day they’re released instead of two years later when they reach Australian TV.
But today’s technology also means I need never sit on a train or wait for a bus in silence; I never have to just gaze out the window and be alone with my thoughts.
I have the ability to always be ‘on’; achieving, producing or doing. I can fill every waking moment of my day with input and activity if I choose to. Music, social media, audio books, TED Talks, YouTube, podcasts, phone calls, texts, emails, Netflix, saving, sharing, responding.
Does this sound familiar?
Part of me embraces that opportunity, but I also appreciate the need for silence. I’m old enough to remember when silence wasn’t really a choice and the benefits that flow from that. When was the last time you were silent for more than 30 minutes? Was it intentional or by accident? And what happened?
Some people get their best ideas when they’re in the shower or even during the night when all is still, and their inner voice can be heard.
When I’m silent, lots of things happen. Sometimes I think about recent (or distant) events and discover emotions that surprise me. Sometimes the wording for a difficult paragraph I’ve been drafting will just land. And sometimes a new business ‘tweak’ drops into my mind. Whatever it is, it all comes from that creative part of me that is often hard to hear over the constant hum of the day.
By ‘creativity’ I don’t just mean our desire to write or draw, but also our ability to create escape-plans, solutions, and tactful responses. The creativity I’m talking about includes decisions, processing, contemplating and even healing; things that are as critical to our business life as they are personally.
These may still happen while we’re doing other things, but silence allows us to receive a status report from our own inner voice.
So, my challenge is for you to create times of silence in your day.
Times when there’s no input or activity to compete with. Times when devices and distractions are switched off to allow our creative voice an opportunity.
This challenge comes in two parts:
1. Create some regular quiet time.
It doesn’t need to be something else to add to your day; just choose something you do for half an hour or more and do it in silence. It might be your drive home from work, the first half of your commute, your lunch break, folding the laundry, or a daily walk.
For my husband and I, we have an hour of quiet time each morning after our coffee (of course) between 6.30 and 7.30am. It’s a time we guard fiercely because it is the best part of our day. My husband meditates. He’s been doing that for a year now and finds it settles a heightened sense of anxiety he experiences on waking. My hour is a bit different. I spend about 15 minutes quietening my mind and the next 45 minutes listening. I keep a pen and paper with me because this is when I gather my gems for the day. I often feel like an hour isn’t long enough, but it fits into my schedule, and on the weekends, I can pinch a bit more time.
2. Tell a Millennial.
Those of us who are old enough will remember silence as a comrade; not always invited, but useful none-the-less. It’s not difficult to shift from comrade to friend. But for those born into the age of iPods, iPads and smartphones, silence can feel unnatural. So, talk to a Millennial (or someone younger) about the benefits of silence, not as a lecture, but to encourage them to tap into their own potential and listen to what they have to say to themselves. Remind them that their voice is important.
There’s no one-size-fits-all for bringing quiet time into your day; just find something that works for you and see if you notice a difference in your creative approach to life.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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