Prompted: Embracing Emptiness
Creating space for silence.
People don’t have enough silence in their lives because they don’t have enough solitude. And they don’t get enough solitude because they don’t seek out or cultivate silence.
It’s a vicious cycle that prevents stillness and reflection, and then stymies good ideas, which are almost always hatched in solitude.
- Ryan Holiday
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According to a recent study, 71% of Americans check their phone within 10 minutes of waking up. 47% consider themselves addicted to their phone. That’s staggering.
Phones are just one of the ways we stimulate ourselves throughout the day. Podcasts, Youtube, Netflix, and TV, all provide an endless supply of content a few clicks away. If we’re feeling restless or uncomfortable we don’t even have to use our hands anymore, instead, we can ask Alexa to tell us a joke or play our favorite song.
Most of us can’t even get through a meal without something to do. If we’re not eating with anyone else, we watch tv, and if there’s nothing to watch, we scroll along and get so caught up we forget we’re eating.
Exercising without listening to music or a podcast is labeled crazy. There’s an ever-growing army of people walking around with AirPods permanently implanted into their eardrums.
Quibi raised 1.8 BILLION dollars to create short-form content to fill those terrible stretches of time that are too long to be adequately entertained by social media, but too short to watch a full episode of a show. And it burned to the ground because everyone already had endless amounts of content to keep them busy!
It’s hard to admit, but we’re afraid of silence. It’s difficult to sit with our own thoughts. Solitude is uncomfortable. We fidget, we feel phantom vibrations from our pockets, and we fill the void before we notice what’s happening.
I don’t think it would be a stretch to call this a root cause of the many problems individuals and the world are facing right now.
Despite the discomfort idleness creates, it serves as a remedy to the stress, burnout, and overconsumption that have become normal. Intuitively we know that endless scrolling, binge-watching, and constant busyness will never lead us to feel content or allow us to reach our potential.
Let’s embrace the power of emptiness and commit to doing nothing.
Am I uncomfortable without having “something to do”?
How can I add intentional stillness or emptiness to my day?
What am I avoiding when I reach for stimulation in uncomfortable silence? How can I face that head-on instead?
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