Take Time to Smell the Flowers

The tranquil beauty of Trout Lake Farm West. Echinacea flowers reach towards the sun while Mount Adams stands guard in the background. Trout Lake, WA; 2015.
The tranquil beauty of Trout Lake Farm West. Echinacea flowers reach towards the sun while Mount Adams stands guard in the background. Trout Lake, WA; 2015.

I recently watched a candid interview with Pope Francis as part of a special episode of 60 Minutes. I admire many things about this pontiff from his position on climate change to his vision of inclusion in the church (and in society) and beyond.

Are you talking to me?

When I watched the special, I felt as though the Pope was talking directly to me thanks to a clever production technique. The interviewer used a device akin to a teleprompter, but instead of seeing text rolling across the screen, Pope Francis watched the interviewer’s face on the screen as he answered the questions, all the while looking directly into the camera. I found it riveting, and I was eager to talk with friends and colleagues about it, sure that they had watched the special as well.

Finding the meaningful among the mundane

When I began asking, however, I was surprised to learn that many of my friends had missed the special, which made me think about the broader issue. With the sheer volume of noise that comes our way on any given day, it’s easier than ever for meaningful messages to get lost among the mundane. What’s worse, we don’t need to look far to find the culprits. Cell phones, for example, are buzzing and vibrating all day long with notifications, email updates and social media news. Add the Internet, TV, and other information outlets, and the chatter seems nonstop, tugging at our time and attention (and at times our sanity).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of technology, especially for its ability to help us stay better connected with friends, family and colleagues. Yet along with all this hyperconnectivity comes a din that permeates our lives, leaving little opportunity for truly quiet reflection, which I believe is critical to renew the spirit.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, I remember a similar feeling while sailing around the world during my Firebird journey in the late 70s. I experienced some of the most tranquil times of my life on that adventure, especially when sailing under the still of the night sky with thoughts as my only companion. These periods of quiet solitude were in stark contrast to the buzz of the crowded metropolitan ports that I visited throughout the journey. I call it the noise of civilization.

Today, the noise of civilization is louder and more invasive than ever, making it more difficult to keep unimportant distractions to a minimum to make room for quiet. Whether you call it prayer, meditation, or silent contemplation, making time for quiet reflection during your day has an almost magical ability to help you focus on the meaningful things in our lives.

Keeping the noise of civilization at bay

Need inspiration to help block distractions and stay centered in today’s noisy world? Here are five simple actions that I do that may help:

  1. Create a morning ritual. A morning ritual gives you a little “me time” when you can plan your day. I typically enjoy Pilates in the morning followed by a protein shake as I plan my day.
  2. Unplug and turn it off. Send calls to voicemail, turn off email notifications, and step away from your devices for a few minutes of quiet reflection every day. You may be surprised at the rejuvenating power of this daily respite.
  3. Spend time with people who matter. Whether making family memories, nurturing friendships or even building a successful business (more about the power of friendship in business here), you will never regret spending time with those who matter.
  4. Focus on what’s important. Don’t just be busy to be busy, spend your time on what brings meaning to your life – time with family and friends, working on a passion project, building a successful business.
  5. Take a walk in nature. Maybe it’s the peaceful view, the invigorating feeling or both, but I’ve always found that nature has a way of helping me stay centered.

What actions do you take to cut through the noise in your life? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.


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2 thoughts on “Take Time to Smell the Flowers”

  1. I did catch the pope on 60minutes and I too am a great admirer.
    Thanks for the reminder. It’s hard not to get caught up in the “day to day” noise. Nature brings me back to a peaceful center, spending time with our dog and recalling the things I am most grateful for in my life.

  2. Dr. Sam, What a great and meaningful story that is a great reminder to us all to stop and enjoy the simple peace that is part of our lives if we just give it a chance. ???? JW

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