The Joy of Quiet

When was the last time you sat quietly – with no computer, cell phone, television – to distract you?  Pico Iyer, author of The Man Within My Head, suggests that “distractions console us and yet makes us miserable.”

In his essay for the New York Times – The Joy of Quiet – Pico Iyer notes that we are missing the opportunity to think and enjoy peace when we are always “doing.”  Someone once described me as someone “who gets it done” – meant as a compliment to efficiency and focus – so doing nothing seems wasteful and complacent to me.  Yet, whenever I can be by myself in a quiet alcove with nothing in particular to achieve, I think more clearly.

“{In a research study, Iyer cites} that after spending time in quiet rural settings, subjects exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition.  Their brains become both calmer and sharper.”

Those places are harder to find, and Iyer describes costly vacations that offer a respite from maniacal reverence to the electronic gods that most find difficult to leave behind.  If you can’t afford a cliff-top room at the posh Post Ranch Inn for $2,285 a night “for the privilege of not having a television,” or are reluctant to book a room at Benedictine Hermitage as Iyer does, he suggests a few easy ways to find peace.

  • Go for a walk by yourself, but “forget” to take your cell phone.
  • Declare a weekend moratorium on the computer; leave emails for Monday.
  • Find a quiet place to stare at the ocean, mountain, green field, painting…
  • Get lost in a book (not electronic)  or good piece of music.

I may try them – but not all at once – don’t want to risk going into withdrawal.

Related Post:  Could You Please Keep It Down

2 thoughts on “The Joy of Quiet

  1. Living on a sparsely populated island on the west coast of Canada, I actually disconnect a lot. I don’t have a working cell phone, so any time I leave my house for a walk I’m disconnected. I escape to the beach or forest regularly, and we wilderness camp beyond wi-fi or cell reach many times a year. I know in the bigger cities this is harder to do, especially if you have a cell phone you are attached to. I feel so fortunate to live here and have this intimate ann in-our-faces connection with the natural world still.

    • You are fortunate to have the peace and quiet. Iyer and Thoreau would applaud you for not having a cell phone, and Iyer moved from Manhattan to rural Japan.

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