It’s a friendly silence.
The silence that lets you think. That lets you create. That lets you enjoy peace.
In the journey of trying to design an enjoyable life, I started thinking back to some of the times that I’ve felt most satisfied or happiest.
I noticed, as did Derek Sivers, that they are the times when I’m not consumed by needless distractions. During these times of peace, I am completely engaged with whatever I’m doing. I allow myself the privilege of not dividing my attention all over the place because I want to focus completely on one task.
You can pick out these moments in your days too.
When your friend tells a joke, do you stop laughing to check your phone? Or when you’re writing an essay and you feel everything just fall into place, do you want to go onto twitter or continue working?
Peace is valuable
The peace found from disconnecting from social media, from people, from mindless consumption simply gives us a mental break and allows us to spend more time focusing on single things.
Given that we have a limited amount of time and energy each day, why not spend that time trying our best to become immersed in things that we truly enjoy. An example of what not to become immersed in is social media.
While Twitter and Facebook can be enjoyable, I’ve found in my own experience, talking to friends, and researching why we should spend less time on things like the news, spending too long on them is rarely satisfying. I see as something that stops us from being bored instead of keeping us engaged.
This is not my crusade against social media (you’ll understand why at the end). What is important here is to understand the problem with living with distractions all throughout the day.
The solution is to disconnect.
How to disconnect
Thankfully this is quite simple. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy given how tempting distractions are.
- Be mindful
Throughout the day, be aware of the times that you’re entering a distraction-rich environment. This can be as simple as sitting down and having all your social media profiles open at the same time to being at work and finding yourself just talking to coworkers and friends throughout the day.
Being aware that you’re simply floating on the surface of something engaging rather than diving in is the first step to removing needless distractions from your day. It’s easy to become consumed by distractions without realising you’re doing so until you’ve already wasted valuable energy and time.
Ask yourself, is what you’re doing actually increasing your well-being? Does it bring you any joy?
Sometimes it’s best to completely cut off from social media, other people and whatever takes you away from what you’re enjoying. This doesn’t mean tell all your friends you’re never talking to them again. Well, if you do, that wasn’t inspired by me.
Set times for when you’re going to enter states of complete focus or for when you will not check distraction heavy places like twitter and emails.
If you want, you can choose to go into complete solace where there is no internet, no other people. There’s just you and your desire to live an engaging day. These “internet-free” retreats have become more popular but you can just design your environment that way by turning off your internet and disabling data on your phone.
- Find engaging things to do.
The newfound peace is helpful without anything else added to it. Simply sitting in the park or going for a calm walk has benefits when they’re distraction free. However, it might be difficult to maintain if your free time involves a lot of nothing. That’s why it’s helpful to use this calm to engage your creativity.
Spend time creating. Whether that is through writing, drawing, singing, gaming, whatever. Let go of the useless idea that you’re “not creative”.
You cannot get better at creating without creating. Nor does anyone start their day as the perfect creator. You practice. You suck at first. Then you suck a bit less. Then you start to think “Well, I’m not terrible”. Then you build more confidence and continue.
It’s more difficult to create than it is to consume. Thankfully, creating comes with much more intense benefits than mindless consumption does.
Creating is not the only way to be mindfully engaged with your days. You can watch films, read good books or go for a run. All without distraction. A time when you can enter the flow.
The friendly silence…
… is found through disconnecting from distractions and mindless noise that takes you away from being engaged with your own day. It might expose difficulties you purposefully chose to avoid but at least you can now confront the fear and defeat it.
Thanks to Derek Sivers for the blog post on disconnecting. It reminded me how valuable it can be.
Ok, this is probably quite ironic but I have some social media you can follow me on. Please don’t hate me. I just heard it’s a good thing. Still, don’t spend all day on it. Not even mine.