How can turning down the volume help me hear what matters?

There are so many important things to hear right now. If I let the cacophony fill my brain, I can be easily distracted from what really matters.


For me, cacophony sounds like a zillion tabs open on my computer, all calling "Read me! I am the most interesting!"


And it sounds like the never-ending options for philanthropic contributions, all calling "Please donate here! I am the most compelling way for you to invest in your community!"


And it also sounds like the Zoom coffees being scheduled and then rescheduled, the stacks of books calling to me at night when I am tired, the last 20 weeks of The New Yorker (patiently waiting)... the bills, the overdue car maintenance, the medical appointments to be rescheduled (but wait, is it safe yet?), the streaked windows that haven't been cleaned in several years, the news, politics, and the list goes on and on.


While these things are LOUD and are very good at calling for attention, they are not what matters.

What matters is hearing the anger in the young child and listening diligently to decipher its meaning.


What matters is hearing the young adult and the wise elder who are lonely during the pandemic and who are longing for community.


What matters is hearing the new college graduate who is bravely tearing down barriers brick by brick.


What matters is hearing the overwhelmed executive who is courageously making life-changing decisions about her career and envisioning a different future than she had originally planned.


What matters is hearing the exasperated physician who is desperate to find a new way to live in healthy relationship with her growing daughter.


What matters is hearing the hopeful mom-to-be who prays that this time, please G-d, the IVF will work.


These are the things that matter to me.


So I'll bookmark the entire window on my computer and then close it. Ahhh.


Choose three organizations and make meaningful contributions, then trust I am making good choices. That's better.


And then simply enjoy watching the books and magazines pile up, knowing they will all be there when I am ready to read them. Yes.


As it gets quieter, I can exhale and turn my focus to what really matters.


As with almost every muscle I care about, growing "turning down the volume so I can hear what is important" muscles is hard work and it requires discipline. As my muscles get stronger, I hear more. And I not only hear more, I hear more of what I care about.


When I choose to lean towards hearing what matters, it helps determine my actions. And actions, aligned with values, supports optimal health.


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