Joseph Goldstein (co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society) said, "Many of our desires are not obsessive, but they still may be a driving force behind many of our actions. The object of craving or desire can be small, even insignificant, but the power of desire is deeply rooted in our minds, almost like a primal energy."
Knowing that life is a series of decisions, what desires are influencing our decisions? Are they based on intrinsic value, thus providing more meaning to our lives? Or are they based on ego, often resulting in more noise—anything that needlessly drains physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy—in our lives?
The challenge lies in first noticing these driving forces and then being honest with ourselves when categorizing them into intrinsic value vs. ego.
Here are three nudges to help us manage potential sources of noise in our lives:
- Minimize Judgment: What areas do we judge harshly? It could be someone's personality, the way they dress, or the decisions others make. Epictetus (Stoic philosopher) said, "What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance." Often, the source of our judgment provides a clue into what we would like to evolve in ourselves.
- Be Aware of the Opportunity Cost: Where are we investing time and money? Is it serving us? Does it create excess stress in our lives? Where we choose to invest our resources is not for others to judge, but it does provide another glimpse into potential sources of noise in our lives. Trying to maintain facades for others drains valuable energy from all parts of our lives.
- Notice Emotions: When we find ourselves losing control, raising our voice, or being unskillful with our behaviour, do we take time to dig a little deeper? When we don't react skillfully to seemingly innocuous situations, it provides valuable insight into what we may have been repressing. Noise in our lives is like weeds in a driveway. No matter how hard we try to gloss over pain, it will manifest in different ways in our lives.
Life isn't about biohacking or endlessly improving productivity. We have a treasure trove of opportunity that lies in dealing with unneeded noise in our lives. Happy hunting!
And as always, when in doubt… Pause, Breathe, and Quiet the Noise.