Noodle on This: The Power of Silence

Be silent an observant like the stars..

Be silent and observant like the stars.

Noodle* on this…
Quietness is the beginning of virtue. To be silent is to be beautiful. Stars do not make a noise. ~ James Stephens

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. – Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

We live noisy lives. Planes, trains, automobiles, cell phone ringing, music played over loudspeakers, all add to the noise of life. This constant noise affects our ability to function, think and learn. It exhausts us and interferes with our ability to hear and understand speech according to Professor Gary W. Evans, PhD, at Cornell University.

Unfortunately, there is little we can do about all this ambient noise. In fact, we are so accustomed to noise that silence makes some people uncomfortable, as in the phrase deafening silence.

When I was in college, I took a counseling skills course. There were about a dozen students in the class and on the first day, the professor had us sit in a circle – like a group therapy circle. He joined us in the circle and said absolutely nothing for a few minutes. But it seemed like forever!

In just a few seconds, we students were looking at each other, squirming in our seats and clearing our throats. All the while, the professor sat quietly looking at his hands resting in his lap. Then, the students started asking questions and making comments. When that did not evoke any response from the professor, the talking died off and we all sat silently. Finally without looking up, the professor started reporting, without any notes, what various students said and did during the silent time. Then he looked up, made eye contact with each of us and said, Your most powerful skill is the ability to be silent and listen.

The Power of Silence

There is power in silence. Specifically, being silent:

  • Gives us the time to think things through and sort out our emotions.
  • Helps us solve problems while remaining calm.
  • Helps us in our work.
  • Gives us peace.

Sometimes, when we are silent, we must face our fears. This helps us develop wisdom and strength according to people like Lao Tzu (500 BC) who taught that silence is a source of great strength and Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626 AD) who defined silence as the sleep that nourishes wisdom. Even the writers of the  Old Testament understood the importance of silence.  Proverbs 17:28 tells us: Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

However, remember that silence, like any other power can be misused, when it is used to punish others or show anger.

What happens in silence?

When we are silent we can hear and understand what others are saying. Being silent in a conversation means actually listening to the other person, not thinking about what we want to say or what to have for dinner. When we listen silently, we hear the person’s tone of voice; notice the words they stress; notice their body language; and hear what the person is actually saying. Silence gives us what doctors call a tincture of time, meaning it gives us the time and space necessary for compassion, wisdom, peace and understanding.

In addition, when we listen to others in courteous, attentive silence, they are more like to return the favor by listening to us without interrupting.

Your Noodling Challenge…

power of silence

Shhh…

Can you sit in a meeting or in a group of any kind without speaking? Try it. How does it feel? What did you notice? Spend a few minutes every day just being quiet and observant. Share you experience with us in the Comments section below:

 

 

 

Consider this…

You are most powerful when you are most silent. People never expect silence. They expect words, motion, defense, offense, back and forth. They expect to leap into the fray. They are ready, fists up, words hanging leaping from their mouths. Silence? No.”  Alison McGhee, All Rivers Flow to the Sea

Riddle Me This…

Q: What vegetables do librarians like?
A: Quiet peas

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm … and then to act!

Photo Credits

 

Noodle on This: Don’t Beat Yourself Up, Try Self-Compassion Instead

Noodle* on this…Person on beach with heart scrapped into the sand an example os self-compassion
A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change you entire life.   ~ Christpher Germer, PhD

Self-compassion is…

Self compassion is not self-pity nor is it self-esteem. It is about:

  • Treating ourselves with kindness by not beating ourselves up when we make mistakes;
  • Accepting that we are human beings who are inherently imperfect;
  • Realizing we all experience pain – both physical and emotional; and,
  • Taking a balanced approach toward our emotions, neither suppressing them nor exaggerating them – in other words, living mindfully.

Research psychologist Kristen Neff, PhD. and others have found that when we treat ourselves with compassion, we experience more life satisfaction, optimism, social connectedness, joy, peace of mind and wisdom.

As some wise person once said, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Self-compassion is about skipping the suffering and dealing directly with the pain.

Self-compassion in Action

My friend Suzanne was a victim of the Great Recession of 2008. She was laid off after many years with the same company. She regularly received excellent performance evaluations, several promotions and raises. She was devastated. Even as she worked on her resume, met with a job counselor, and joined several networking groups, part of her was always asking, “what did I do wrong; who did I annoy that I shouldn’t have; what could I have done differently?” All these thoughts led to depression the seemed to slowly engulf her.

So, she took a day off, went to the beach, and had a serious talk with herself. Basically, she told herself, “it’s not you – it’s the economy! There are several million people in the same situation. It is what it is! So, stop beating yourself up.”

It is what it is became a common thought for her when there were no responses to her submitted resumes; when she did not receive a call back for a second interview or when a prospective employer called to say. “Thanks, but no thanks. We hired someone else.”

What Suzanne did not realize, until years later, was that she was treating herself with compassion, which includes.

  • Kindness – “don’t beat yourself up.”
  • Common humanity – “you are not alone, millions of people lost their jobs.”
  • Mindfulness – “it is what it is.”

With self-compassion, along with the constant loving support of family and friends, she found a job. And what a great job it is! Self-compassion helped her get through what could have been a horribly long, depressing and difficult time. Instead, she handled it with patience and with her sense of humor and sense of self intact.

Your Noodling Challenge…

 Whit lotus representing serenity and self compassionThe serenity prayer—made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs—captures self-compassion beautifully: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, 2011

How do you show compassion for yourself when faced with challenges? Share your ideas with us in the Comments section below.

I’ll go first. I take a short break and move – just a five or ten minute walk. It helps calm me down and clear my mind.

Learn more about self-compassion and find your level of self-compassion with this self-assessment tool developed by Kristin Neff, PhD.

Riddle Me This

Q: Why did the traffic light turn red?
A: You would too if you had to change in the middle of the street!

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Beach image courtesy of Gena Living.

White lotus image courtesy of 1MS.NET

 

Noodle on This: Take a Journey of Self-discovery

WIlderness image showing forest river and boulders – an alayogy of what you well explore for your self-realization and well-being

Explore the uncharted territory that is you.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda

Self-discovery is a journey into uncharted territory. It can mean finding your purpose (and yes, we all have a purpose in life.) It can involve analyzing your beliefs and values. Are they appropriate? Have they changed over time and are you living by them?  Are you willing to take that journey? 

Alice in Wonderland

As circumstances change, we change along with them and sometimes we get lost in the process. Author Lewis Carroll, described this process in his book Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.  (1871)

Original illustration from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871)

Original illustration from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871)

The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.

Alice had an amazing journey of self-discovery. Our journeys don’t need to be as extraordinary as Alice’s, In fact,  Margarite Tartakovsky, M.S., Associate Editor of PsychCentral. suggests that asking answering some simple questions may be sufficient:

Questions for Self-discovery

According to Tartakovsky, “the questions we ask shape the lives we lead.” Here are her suggested “questions to spark self-discovery”:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I need right now more than anything else?
  • What meaning can I draw from this experience?
  • What feeling do I most want to have in my life? 
  • What do I want to be doing more of in my life?
  • What do I want to be doing less of in my life?
  • What am I resisting or attaching to?
  • What are my gifts? How can I share them with the world?
  • How can I celebrate each day or the moments in our life?

Select one of the questions above and answer it in the Comments field below. What surprised  you in your in this mini-self-discovery process?

Here is my question and answer:

How can I celebrate each day or the moments in my life?

I recently discovered the joy, peace and beauty of a sunrise walk. For the last several years, my dog and I would go out at first light for exercise. I would ride my bike slowly and he would trot along side. But he is getting older and he can’t do that any more. So, now we walk and it is amazing what we missed rushing through his exercise. By walking, he gets to stop, sniff the neighborhood, and of course, mark his territory, while I watch the sunrise; enjoy the cool crisp air; and listen to the local rooster announce the new day.  Surprisingly, I find that I am less likely to rush frantically through the rest of the day, when I start it with a simple, mindful walk.

Riddle Me This…

Q: What is at the end of a rainbow?
A: The letter W.

*To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image courtesy of Alan English

Noodle on This: Your Integrity is Everything

Noodle* on This…

Young Man With A Post It Note On His Mouth representing "your word is your bond"

Your Word is Your Bond

“Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.”

~ Maria Razumich-Zec

Synonyms for integrity include honestyrectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness. But not matter what words we may choose to describe it, integrity is essential to our well-being and our success in life.

When people know they can trust and rely on us, we get the most interesting or most important assignments at work. We halso have good credit scores because we always pay our bills on time. A good credit score means that we can buy a new home or car or go on a fun vacation. Plus, it is so much easier to tell the truth and keep our word. We don’t have to come up with excuses or remember the lies we told.

A Final Thought

Living with integrity may not get you a lot of friends, but it is will always get you the right friends. – Anonymous

Noodle Challenge

What will you do this week to follow through on what you said you would do?

Share your thoughts with us in the Comment section below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brain-storm.

(Image from www.graphicstock.com, used with permission)

Noodle on This: Laugh at Life

Noodle* on this…

Photo of small white dog with orange flower laugh at life

Even in the most difficult time we can find something to laugh about – like a dog with a flower.

Life is too important to be taken seriously. ~ Oscar Wilde

Synonyms for important include heavy, momentous, crucial, critical and urgent, just to list a few. So, shouldn’t we take life seriously?  It is not something to laugh at. It is profound. But, according to Oscar Wilde, life is important and yet it should not be taken seriously! What was he saying?

This statement is not necessarily a paradox as many scholars would have us believe. Rather, Mr. Wilde suggests the importance of comparison and contrast. You remember compare and contrast exercises from school don’t you?  At some time during your educational life, you wrote a required essay that compared and contrasted two things, such as apples and oranges. It is a basic exercise in developing critical thinking skills, which in turn, help us cope with life and solve problems.

How can we appreciate the seriousness of life, if we cannot appreciate the humor, joy, and beauty of it? Humor, laughter, joy and delight help us cope with the “hard stuff” of life. They help us stay sane in the midst of conflict and chaos. They help us put things in perspective. According to psychologist Gina Bancera, Ph.D,* “humor addresses the same issues as fear, not to dismiss them but to strengthen our ability to confront them and then laugh them away.… Laughter is an act of courage.”

Laugh at Life – An Example

Recently, I had what can best be described as a “life and death” discussion with my dear friend Emily. For hours afterwards, I replayed the discussion in my head and worried about it. Then, as I was getting ready for bed, I turned on some classical music as I do most nights. That night, it was a full orchestral version of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, one of my favorite pieces. Rather than being played by a string quartet or a chamber orchestra as is traditional, it was played by the full London Orchestra, including tubas and trumpets. The first thing I noticed about this version was that the tubas were playing the bassline of the piece. I was delighted to hear them oompahing throughout the piece and I laughed as I listened to the music.

The laughter reduced my stress and helped me shift my thoughts to all the times, Emily and I had laughed together, sometimes over the most ridiculous things. I am still sad and I continue to wonder what life will be like without Emily. But the sadness is eased by the lovely, happy memories of the times we spent together.

Basically, I compared and contrasted Emily’s “life and death” news with her joy and laughter. I know now that no matter what happens, she will always live in my heart and when I think of here I will laugh, or at the very least, smile.

So when life is getting you down, don’t wallow in it, do the courageous thing. Laugh at it!

Your Noodle Challenge

Think about a difficult situation that is making your miserable or angry. Find one thing in it that you can laugh about. now, gather your courage and laugh about it!  Share your experience with us in the Comment section below

Riddle Me This…

Question: Why don’t dogs make good dancers?
Answer:  Because they have two left feet.

 

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brain-storm.

Credits

*Baarreca, Gina, “Laughing at the Scary Stuff: Humor and Fear,” Psychology Today, April 1, 2013, retrieved July 21, 2017

Photo credit: zicadbagui.tumblr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noodle on This: Everyone “Has Need of Help”

Noodle* on This …

SHelp Computer Button Showing Assistance Support Or Answerseek always to do some good somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow-man. Even if it is a little thing, do something for those who have need of help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. For remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too.

~ Albert Schweitzer
As Blanch Dubois said in Tennessee Williams’ play A Street Care Named Desire, “I have often relied on the kindness of strangers. We live in isolation protected by electronic devices, but sometimes we come face to face with another human being and sometimes that person has need of help. Often, a kind word, a smile, a simple courtesy like holding open a door can make a big difference for the stranger and for us. Let’s reconnect with our humanity and each other through simple acts of kindness.
Your Noodle Challenge
What will you do this week for someone who “has need of help?” Share your ideas with us in the Leave a Reply field below.
* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brain-storm.
(Images courtesy of www.graphicstock.com, used with permission)

Noodle on This: Don’t Own Other People’s Problems!

Noodle* on This…

Bear in a angry mood,

Remind you of  someone?

If someone is being unkind or petty or jealous or distant or weird, you don’t have to take it in. You don’t have to turn it into a big psychodrama about your worth. That behavior so often is not even about you. Don’t own other people’s problems.

~ Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, 2010

Your Noodle Challenge

Identify one problem you have owned, that belongs to someone else. How can you stop “owning” that problem? Always be kind and courteous but do not own others’ problems.

Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Riddle Me This…

Question: What do you call a bear with no teeth?
Answer:  A gummy bear.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brain-storm.

(Image courtesy of www,imgion.com)

 

Noodle on This: Celebrate Your Inner Fool

Noodle on this…

Mark Twain sitting in a wroking chair on a porch

Mark Twain

April 1: This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.

Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God’s fool, and all His work must be contemplated with respect.

~ Mark Twain

We can always count on Mark Twin to “cut to the chase,” or”tell it like it really is” and April Fool’s Day is no exception. We are all fools or do foolish things from time to time and part of being authentic is accepting our foolishness, learning from it and even celebrating it.

 

 

Blog author dress ass clown juggling scarves

Your Humble Scribe celebrating her inner fool.

For a while I was a clown – Barnaby Bumbler, Clown for All Occasions. I was literally a fool with my purple paisley vest, orange pants, clown face and shoes. I loved it. I got to be silly and foolish without worrying about what others might think of me, because clowns are silly and it helped me feel comfortable being be foolish and silly in daily life.

On this April Fool’s Day, be authentic by celebrated your inner fool. Tell us one silly thing you will do today in the Reply section below. So, respect your silliness and let it shine. Look for the silly in everyday life. It makes life more fun and more interesting. According to Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”

We are all imperfectly messy human beings and the imperfectly, messy person that is you is far superior and much more interesting than any person you may pretend to be or what someone else thinks you should be.

Celebrate the unique, beautiful person you are by doing one thing today that is authentically you You are uniquely, wonderfully you. Celebrate the authentic you.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm

Photo Credit: The Mark Twain House and Museum

Noodle on This: Find Common Ground with Others

Noodle* on this …

Image of oxpecker bird and zebra face to face finding common ground

If two different species (the oxpecker and zebra) can find common ground, why can we humans not do the same thing with one another?

Embrace a diversity of ideas. Embrace the fact that you can disagree with people and not be disagreeable. Embrace the fact that you can find common ground – if you disagree on nine out of 10 things, but can find common ground on that 10th, maybe you can make progress. If you can find common ground, you can accomplish great things.

~ David Boies, Attorney

The oxpecker and zebra could not be more different and yet they live and thrive together. One would think that because they are so different they would have co common ground and that a tiny bird might be afraid of a big zebra. But, they have found common ground.

The oxpecker feeds on the ticks and other parasites that live on the zebra and when danger approaches, the bird flies up screaming a warning to the zebra. The zebra gives the oxpecter a safe place to land and rest its wings. Both the zebra and oxpecker benefit from the relationship.

We humans cannot always see that we are connected to one another and how we can support and help one another. When we see someone “not like us” or hear something with which we do not agree, we immediately go into judgment mode.

Working in an emergency room, I come in contact with many people “not like me” every day and although it is sometimes hard, I am learning to see each person as a fellow traveler on the rocky road of life. So, I look for a way to connect with them. Sometimes a person is wearing a colorful shirt or has a cool tattoo or a Chicago Cubs cap (Cubs Rule and miracles happen!) These things become common ground for a conversation and as a result, I get to meet some amazing, brave, funny, interesting people who, at first glance appeared to be “not like me.”

Your Noodle Challenge

What will you do to find common ground with people “not like you?”  Write your idea(s) in the Leave a Reply field below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image Credit: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn. All rights reserves

Noodle on This: Reading Takes You Places

Noodle* on this…

An Apple for the Teacher Dedicate the next book you read to the people who taught you to read

An Apple for the Teacher
Dedicate the next book you read to the people who taught you to read.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss

Reading takes you places – both literally and figuratively.  In school and work, it prepares you to be and do your best, which may lead to good performance reviews, raises, promotions and even new career opportunities.

There are other benefits of reading, too…

It improve your memory and  helps keep you mind active. This is a deterrent to dementia. Reading builds you vocabulary helping you to express your thoughts and feelings more effectively. It supports your well being by reducing stress and helping you be more patient and understanding with both yourself and others.

Reading can also take you to new and interesting places. Recently, I read Douglas E, Richards’s book Split Second. In this fascinating science fiction/action book, Richands wrote about both time travel and space travel, which got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing):

What if you could choose to travel through time or space? Either time or space – not both. Which would you chose and why? 

I would like to travel back in time.  Why? Because those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Imagine being an invisible witness to the Yalta Conference in February 1945 where Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt were the key decision makers. The decisions they made at Yalta changed the map of Europe. What was said? What happened that is not in any of the history books and what can we learn  from these leaders and the people around them?

Your Noodle Challenge

This challenge is a multiple choice. In the Leave a Reply field below you may

A. Tell us what book you are currently reading and your thoughts about the book.

B. Answer this question: What if you could choose to travel through time or space? Either time or space – not both. Which would you chose and why? 

C. Answer both A and B.

Remember…

The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading. ~ David Bailey

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image Credit: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn 

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