We all know that gratitude is at the heart of human thriving. But how do we connect to gratitude when we’re too busy and distracted to appreciate what’s in front of us? In a world of so much noise, it’s increasingly difficult to cultivate the attention that’s necessary for appreciation.
Finding quiet—or silence—can be a prerequisite for gratitude.
My writing partner Adrian Gostick and I recently had a fascinating conversation with authors Leigh Marz and Justin Zorn about their new book Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise, and I asked them about the link they see between silence and gratitude.
Their answers not only made me feel less anxious—they made me feel more grateful.
They talked about how to get beyond the noise: in our ears, on our screens, and in our heads. That’s about making space in our jam-packed and busy lives for the type of silence that helps to clear our heads and to re-orient towards our true purpose and our deepest intentions.
For Leigh and Justin, there’s a direct link between finding that silence and accessing the feelings and awareness of gratitude.
“When we're caught up in having to think of what to say, when we're caught up in what to put on Instagram, what to post on Twitter, we find ourselves in a situation where it's difficult to glimpse reality in a direct, unmediated way,” Justin said. “And that's the essence of gratitude. Being able to be present with what's beautiful in our lives, being present with what’s gracious in our lives.”
Related: From Anxiety to Confidence
I asked Leigh and Justin for a practical tip—a practice of cultivating gratitude—when it comes to silence and here’s what Leigh shared:
“We have a segment in our book called ‘Thirty-Three Ways to Find Silence.’ One of those practices is ‘Little Gifts of Silence.’ It’s a practice for when we find our plans have been waylaid—we’re in a long line at the store or there’s unexpected traffic or our phone is broken or out of batteries. Rather than get distressed, angry, or caught up in that, take that moment to be grateful for the break from all that sound and stimulus. Be grateful for that moment of quiet—where you can invite in the silence and just be.”
What I really found refreshing is how quick their practices are. Most take just a couple of seconds. In that short amount of time, we can attune to moments of silence and be grateful for them even when—or especially when—those moments were unplanned.
Here’s an invitation for finding silence—and gratitude—in the unlikeliest of moments. Next time you find yourself in traffic, in a long line, or otherwise stopped in your tracks: