Searching for solitude

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We live in an era of the abundance of information, disinformation, and echo chambers where “people select their own reality by deliberately avoiding information that threatens their happiness and wellbeing.”

The main reason I stopped using Twitter was that it hijacked my focus, made me think in 140 characters which is a beautiful constriction but also one bereft of context. Twitter also made me feel trapped in a room of sameness, where people agreed with each other and sang each other's hosannas. In the search for silence and deeper thinking, I had to remove myself from contributing to the noise.

Says co-authors Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz in a recent HBR article: searching for silence in the era of distraction is more important than ever.

Cultivating silence, as Hal Gregersen writes in a recent HBR article, “increase[s] your chances of encountering novel ideas and information and discerning weak signals.” When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next—it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.

Perhaps I was short-sighted in arguing a few years ago that we should produce as much as we consume. We snack in excess and therefore feel compelled to create/reshare in abundance. Perhaps more significant is saying and doing nothing with our time.

It is in boredom we find ourselves and originate our own private thoughts.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson


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From Peace to Prosperity

Too many people, too many ideas, too much attention. That’s the big city.

Few people, few ideas, few distractions. That’s the woods.

We’re all living in a big city mentality today. We fear falling behind on the latest celebrity gossip, breaking news, and TV show banter on Facebook and Twitter.

The noise can be so overwhelming that we either keep up and contribute to the feeds or we give up completely. There’s rarely middle-ground.

People think that more is better. More creates more anxiety. More intrudes on a peaceful, simple life.

“My greatest skill in life has been to want but little.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

People buy speed and excess because it supplies a hit of dopamine. The online world is like playing the slot machines in Las Vegas. But patience will define the individual in the 21st century. Quality always exceeds excess.


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Don’t Quote Me on This

“Emerson didn’t hate quotation, not really. What he hated was our impulse to shortcut actual thought. The Internet didn’t create that impulse, but it has made it far more tempting and easier to satisfy.”

Quotes evade self-thought by stirring the pot with someone else’s words.

It’s easy to get caught up in quotes, the same way we get addicted to sharing link bait. Never be afraid to quote yourself.

Ironically this was my high school yearbook quote from years ago:

“I HATE quotation. Tell me what you know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


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