When I first started simplifying my life, about 8 years ago, 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 socializing online instead of in person — chatting and sending messages and tumbling and posting pictures and status updates. While I understand the need for social connection, I also recognize the addictiveness of it all, to the point where we have no quiet.
Quiet space is incredibly important to me these days. 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 my writing, but also all the improvements I’ve made to my life: healthier eating, the exercise habit, meditation, decluttering, procrastinating less, etc. Because the 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 socialize, 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.
Today I wish the quiet life upon you.
- Create a little quiet space in the morning.
- Meditate for 2 minutes a day (to start with). Just sit and put your attention on your breath, returning when your thoughts distract you.
- When you feel the urge to socialize 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.
- Don’t take music on a run or walk. Instead, give yourself space with your thoughts.
- 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.
- Make time for the people closest to you. One-on-one time is best. Really pay attention to them.
- Make time for creating, with no distractions.
- Spend some time decluttering, and creating peaceful space.
- 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.
- Pay attention to sensations of whatever you’re eating, drinking, doing.
- Have a daily time for reflection.
You don’t have to do all of these, and certainly not all at once. A slow, happy progression is best.
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.
Living the Quiet Life was originally posted on Zen Habits on 7/22/13.