Living the quiet life
10 ways to introduce more quiet into your life. By Leo Babauta
When I first started simplifying my life, some years ago now, I remember my life being much busier. I would say yes to everything, and go to lots of social stuff, and drive everywhere doing a crazy amount of things, rushing wherever I went. By crazy I mean it can drive you a bit insane!
These days I know a lot of people who do an amazing amount of socialising online instead of in person — chatting and sending messages, and posting pictures and status updates. While I understand the need for social connection, I also recognise the addictiveness of it all, to the point where we have no quiet.
Quiet space is incredibly important. I like my quiet mornings where I can drink a nice tea, meditate, write, as the day grows light and the kids are sleeping. I like quiet on my runs and long walks, so that I can process my ideas, give my thoughts some space, reflect on my life.
The quiet space I allow myself has made possible all the improvements I’ve made to my life: healthier eating, the exercise habit, decluttering, procrastinating less.
It’s because quiet space allows me to be more conscious about my actions, and gives me the time to consider whether what I’m doing is how I want to live my life.
And so, while I still socialise, I live a quieter life now. I have my quiet mornings of meditation, tea and writing, but also my nice runs, some time drinking tea or working out with a friend, alone time with my wife, reading with my kids, and some time alone with a good novel.
Is every minute one of quiet? No, the kids make sure I have some noise in my life, and I’m grateful for that, but the quiet is also in how I respond to the noise. A quiet response is one that absorbs the force of noise, with compassion, and doesn’t throw it back with equal force.
If you’d like to introduce some more quiet into your life here are some ideas that might help:
1. Create a little quiet space in the morning.
2. Meditate for two minutes a day (to start with). Just sit and put your attention on your breath, returning when your thoughts distract you.
3. When you feel the urge to socialise online, pause. Give yourself a little quiet instead. When you feel the automatic urge to say ‘yes’ to an invitation, consider saying ‘no’ instead, unless it’s something that will truly enrich your life.
4. Don’t take music on a run or walk. Instead, give yourself space with your thoughts.
5. When someone talks to you, instead of jumping in with something about yourself, just listen. Absorb. Reflect their thoughts back to them. Appreciate their beauty.
6. Make time for the people closest to you. One-on-one time is best. Really pay attention to them.
7. Make time for creating, with no distractions.
8. Spend some time decluttering, and creating peaceful space.
9. Create space between your automatic reaction, and your actions (or words). Even one second is enough. In that space, consider whether your reaction is appropriate. Instead of rushing, take a breath, and slow down.
10. Pay attention to the sensations of whatever you’re doing, eating, or drinking.
You don’t have to do all of these things, and certainly not all at once. A slow, happy progression is best. But if you start to introduce some (or all) of these things then it will start to open up more quiet space in your life.
In the quiet space that you create, in this world of noise and rushing and distraction, is a new world of reflection, peacefulness, and beauty. It’s a world of your own, and it’s worth living in.
Leo Babauta is the founder of ZenHabits.net
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