The Gift of a Quiet Life in a Noisy World
Monday July 17, 2023

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“A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live.”Bertrand Russell, author of the book The Conquest of Happiness

The birds sang well into the evening as I sat on the front porch swing, swaying back and forth, my legs outstretched over one arm of the swing and my head resting on a pillow situated against the other. I gazed toward the cherry trees that are now bejeweled with red gems near ready to be harvested.

The day before, on a Friday evening, I buckled the paddle board to the top of the car and headed up to a just-out-of-town spot of the river. The air was warm, but not hot, the crowds of fellow water enthusiasts was beginning to wane and following paddling up river for a handful of twists and turns of the water’s flow, I turned the board around, laid flat on my back, both pups on the board with me and floated gradually back down river. Gazing up at the pristine blue sky, not a sound but Mother Nature’s beauty and water lapping on my hands when I dipped my fingers into its refreshing cool.

It used to unsettle me to prefer such a quiet life on the weekends, not intrinsically, but as a result of the messaging of the culture swirling outside of me. Mind you, I still would choose quiet weekends of solo sojourning or partaking in projects at home, of course, with my dogs my companions because it brought deep contentment and rejuvenation, but in the back of my mind I thought I must be a little bit ‘wrong’ for enjoying, and indeed preferring quiet excursions, quiet company, quiet mediums of entertainment.

Thankfully, that feeling of being ‘wrong’ slowly began to recede as I began to ever so gradually permit myself to be fully me, and in many ways that began when I began blogging in 2009. It’s a funny, magical, wonderful thing that begins to occur when we permit our true selves to openly breathe and exist in the world; doing so provides a protective ‘something’, perhaps quiet confidence, quiet strength, or simply due to feeling so at peace because we are finally being ourselves, the thought to choose to live any other way even if the outside world scolds, shames or dismisses as even possible the deep contentment we have found could be real via a path presumed to be ‘wrong’, boring or any other negative qualifier, we journey in the way we know sits well with our being for our well-being.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell includes ‘to a great extend’ when he teaches that a quiet life nurtures and enables a happy life, and it is including this qualifier that I appreciate because there will be moments, instances, occurrences that necessarily involve less quiet. Whether literally or figuratively. We will have to navigate and may want to navigate gatherings of those whose company we enjoy, outings that bring us pleasure (for me, visiting the farmers’ market is an absolute joy or a classical music concert) – a concert where a favorite artist is performing, a beloved play is being presented, a museum’s exhibit has opened; or the noise of speaking up and letting your voice sing with others for a just cause of collective strength, or the ‘noise’ may arrive in the form of a challenge that is necessary to face in order to grow.

But as for a modus operandi, living quietly, if that is where we find our deep joy and contentment, is a gift to give ourselves.

The gifts of living a quiet life are many, and here are just a few:

  • More Aha Moments and Increased Creativity: The creative mind has time to wander, discover, connect seemingly disparate ideas and stumble upon aha moments.
  • Mindfulness as a chosen skill to learn, is strengthened in quiet living, and when we apply mindfulness, we find greater calm in silence and become more comfortable in our own company, thus being able to find the value of intentionally choosing such an approach to living our everydays. (explore this post for ideas for living mindfully in the everyday)
  • Strengthen your mind, its memory, its ability to learn, and deepen emotional intelligence. A 2013 study revealed that given two hours of silence daily prompted growth of new cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s region linked to memory, emotions, and ability to learn.
  • Make better decisions for your life journey. By giving yourself time to process new and proposed information, you strengthen your ability to respond rather than react, thus sorting through what really would be best for your path forward. (read this post to explore the difference between responding and reacting)
  • Decrease stress. It has been my experience that when I honor my needs when I am living quietly, I reduce stress about anything and everything that may be overwhelming me because I now am giving myself time to reflect on why I am stressed and not create more and then attend to how to properly destress. A caveat that is important to note. If I am not being mindful of my thoughts, I can create stress in my quiet moments, but that would also mean I am actually not living quietly because my mind is making noise that is destructive and not being mindful. In other words, my lizard brain is steering the wheel, and I, with the potential to exercise my sage mind, have let it [the sage mind] take a back seat. So long as I am practicing self-awareness and mindfulness, all moments lived quietly reduce stress.
  • Time to assess necessary skills to learn and then time to learn and practice said skills to live more contentedly. I write in detail about the many skills beneficial to learn to live a life of true contentment in my second book: Living A Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self

The design of your quiet life will be unique to you just as how your life of true contentment will look (on the outside) unique as well, so while I may find calm and quiet in Mother Nature, another person may find calm and quiet in an urban setting that while void of ‘people noise’ provides the calm and steady white noise they prefer. However you prefer your quiet is up to you so long as it is truly you designing it, your true self. No more are you following someone else’s design nor choosing your design simply to be contrary to what others are doing. This is where self-awareness is crucial. When you can honestly answer, why am I doing what I am doing, and when the answer, the honest answer, in response is, Because it is where I find true contentment and inner peace and calm, then you will know this is your design of a quiet life.

There are many creations and norms in our modern world designed to grab our attention, nudge us into action (or reaction as the actual case may be) or convince us we are not enough just as we are in this moment. Each of these unnecessary intrusions creates noise, whether it is a literally ‘ping’ as we are trying to focus, or a distraction infused into our mind that we should be doing something else, living differently, pursuing something we don’t currently have. This is where you get to design your life. Sure you need to go to work, stay informed, pay your bills and take care of your health. There are necessities, but I would encourage you to reflect on what is a genuine necessity. I have been doing some reflection on this lately and try to do it regularly as life moves along to make sure I am not accepting something as ‘normal’ that is actually a learned behavior of blind acceptance of what is told is best, but is not actually best for me – either ever or no longer.

Perhaps that is the simple task we can all tend to from time to time, especially if we feel discontent. What is working to bring you moments of calm and when do you feel removed from this feeling? Sometimes, as I mentioned above, we feel challenged or uncomfortable or even fearful and in certain cases, such feelings are actually helpful, a GPS of sorts, to bring our attention to something that needs to be addressed, explored, learned. But in other instances, if it is a regular occurrence of discontent when we are engaged with or are surrounded by the same stimuli, it is wise to explore why we keep putting ourselves in such situations or living in such a way if that is what it welcomes into our days.

For me, wandering in Mother Nature, relaxing at home, giving myself time to write, practicing my French language skills (as I review on my own this summer before classes begin in the fall), cooking, gardening, writing some more, creating projects for TSLL, time just being with my dogs – wholly giving them my attention, small, intimate meals enjoyed with one or two people, this is a life I love living whether on the workday or the weekend, and I am grateful to have fully given myself permission to extinguish any shame about loving such a life. Such a life has given me a priceless peace, knowledge and awareness about my true self that is near difficult to unearth when living noisily. So it will be a quiet life for me and thankful to live such a life I am.

Screenshot 2023-07-16 at 12.18.33 PM

Share a quote from today’s Monday Motivational post.


20 thoughts on “The Gift of a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

  1. Ah! Thank you, Shannon, for this post which makes my heart sing. Early each morning after my walk with Snickers we sit quietly on my deck. We listen to the squeaks of the humming birds, the flapping wings of the blue birds, hawks as they parade up above. Without quiet times in our lives where would we be? ~ Teresa
    P. S. I found an old favored bookmark recently. I thought I’d lost it when I returned a library book. This says it all: “A room without a book is as a body without a soul.” Cicero. I bet you like that! I know I do.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Teresa. 🙂 Aren’t the sounds of Mother Nature magical and quite the gift in and of themselves. 🙂 Without quiet times we definitely are more stressed and run-ragged, so I am grateful to hear you are witnessing so much joy in your quiet life. As am I. 🙂 Wishing you wonderful week. And here, here! to Cicero’s quote. I couldn’t agree more! 🙂

  2. I love this quote from Bertrand Russell. I had never equated joy with living a quiet life, but it makes SO much sense. Great post!

  3. Maybe it is because joy is experienced when we experience peace, and a bit of silence brings that peace.

    It confounds me how some cannot appreciate the silence. My husband, for instance, has to have some type of noise from the moment his eyes open, to the time they close (and usually with the volume up high). I love quiet, peaceful moments, and if I do have something on, it is usually music playing as a calming backdrop…or British tele which tends to be at a lower decibel.
    There is a saying in the South…and maybe elsewhere as well, ¨I can’t hear myself think”. So, I suppose it is not just a saying, but a reality for me.

    Wishing all a great week ahead!


    1. Same to you, Michelle! I just have to leave a little comment about your husband preferring “noise”. It made me smile because my dear late husband was the same way. I can tell you, it is MUCH quieter around here now but what I wouldn’t give for some of that “noise” again… 🙂

    2. Thank you for stopping by Michelle. And sharing your experience with this topic. 🙂 I do think many people fear their thoughts because they haven’t harnessed them and put themselves at the driver’s wheel, but it is possible but it is a skill that takes conscious and repeated effort. The rewards are powerful, life enriching and absolutely worth it as I know you already know. 🙂

    3. Hello Michelle,
      Maybe it’s a guy thing but yes, my husband too insists on a tv, music, etc at all times. Luckily we are both respectful of our differences on this topic but oh the joy I feel on a work trip when I curl up in my hotel room with a good book and enjoy nothing but silence 🙂 Thanks for sharing as it definitely bright a smile to my face.

  4. Loved this post, the framing of a quiet life being a gift. We are truly taught that it means something, or several things, are lacking and must be filled in. I do tend to occasionally wonder what I might be missing with my quiet life as it is but I’ve always needed a lot of time to process what I do, see, think, etc, and quiet and slow is the only way I’ve found to do that. This makes me think of the book suggestion that I need to get into “Daring to Be Yourself”. I’m sure it will help sort things out a bit clearer, choices on avenues to divert energy, or keep things as they are, depending. Thanks, as always!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Melissa. 🙂 Keeping time to just be is equally as important as doing, the latter being something we are quite good at by now. Sometimes it takes time to strengthen the muscle of being, but the joy of savoring a quiet life are quite enriching.

  5. Shannon,
    Solitude is a gift but one that not all can enjoy. I love to be alone and always have. I love the sound of the silence, time with my thoughts, nature and just enjoying life. At the same time I love to be with my 3 pups and my husband. Sadly society tells us that we need to have more friends, get out and do things. In fact I think the advent of social media has made it worse. They say the world is out oyster but what if we like our world at home and not out and about?
    Recently I read that millineals we missing the Covid lockdown because now, as before Covid, there was so much pressure to be out and about socializing.
    Have a wonderful week and thank you for putting into words what many of use feel.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      I completely agree! We live in a world of more and more. With so many streaming services/media sources at our fingertips I feel like my colleagues and friends are always recommending noise…have you seen this show or listened to this podcast? I had to take a hard pause and really ask myself how much is too much as it was stressing me out! Keep living simplying and filling your own tank…no need to worry about others (at least that’s my recent approach that seems to be working 😃)

  6. Shannon I really can appreciate this one today! I really enjoy a more quieter and calm lifestyle because I do feel happier and just content! And the world always has some message about how we should be doing things differently. I just think it’s a bunch of garbage and it causes anxiety and stress for us if we let it! Anyway, thank you Shannon. I hope you and your adorable doggies have a great, and quiet week.😊

    1. Tamra,

      You have nailed it! And your awareness to this truth is burden-lifting. Keep doing what nourishes you. You have a community of people here at TSLL that know of the gift of a quiet life, and while we each live in our own way, it is intentional, calmer and deeply fulfilling.

      Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  7. Thank you Shannon. I’m recently single and realize we live in a world that equates a fulfilling life with romantic relationships and consumerism. There is little content out there showcasing women who enjoy solitude and simplicity who are peaceful and happy. Thank you for being that light.

    1. Sarah,

      Grateful for your comment and happy to share this life I feel so fortunate to live. I genuinely love it, so it is easy to share even though it can be hard for some outsiders to believe my contentment and joy is real. I will just keep living and sharing as I do. It is my privilege to be able to share with you all and hopefully inspire in any way that reminds that when we honor our true selves, there is unlimited strength we discover to continue to live in such a way, whatever that way is, so long as it is honoring our true self. A lifting of a burden has occurred in my own life once I embraced what truly brings me joy and fulfillment, and it feels refreshing and long overdue. 🙂

      Take care of yourself during this time of shifting and grieving, whatever it is you grieve for. Your feelings are real and thus healing is both necessary and powerful. Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

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