Filter out the noise, focus on the meaningful
"It can seem like our lives are filled with busyness, noise, distractions, and often meaningless activities.
What if we could filter out all that noise, and focus on the meaningful?
What if we could find stillness instead of constant distraction?"
- Leo Babauta, Filter Out The Noise - Zen Habits
I subscribed to Zen Habits last month because I found the articles very intriguing and useful. This particular one, "Filter Out The Noise", talks about a simple truth - how our lives are filled with so much noise and distractions from things like social media that we lose sight of activities that are actually meaningful to us. It then goes on to tell you how to filter out the noise, and how to focus on stillness and meaningful activities.
When I received the article in my inbox a week ago, I pretty much went like this. Why did my mind go kabooosh? Well, first I thought, oh sh*t he's so right. Secondly, and more importantly, I'd been contemplating doing the things he mentioned for the past year or so but.. I don't know. I guess I never had the courage or enough motivation to change my life so drastically. Like the author said, we've fallen into patterns over the years - patterns that we may not be entirely happy with - and it seems impossible to change them.
Even prior to discovering Zen Habits, I'd found my mind drifting back to the time in my life before social media became a big part of me (like over six years ago). Life was so much.. simpler. Less noise. Less meaningless actions. More meaningful moments. More peace. I'd been yearning to live like that again but never made any effort into changing my current way of life.
I realised that, over the past 2-3 years, I've spent an awful lot of time mindlessly using social media, whether that's Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr, Youtube or Bloglovin'. I haven't been spending enough time doing things that are meaningful to me, such as spending quality time with my loved ones, reading books, meditating, studying, being present in the moment.
I'm not saying I dislike social media. Nah, nah. I love using social media because it allows me to connect with amazing people (like you) around the world, express myself, document my life in various ways and many other wonderful things. It's just I've been spending too much time on it, and I need to find balance between the online and offline worlds. I'm also not saying I've been unhappy with my life the past few years. I was happy, yes, but there's been too much noise, and it's time for me to focus on the meaningful.
I'd been intending to take these actions for so long but never had enough motivation to do so until I read the article. It gave me that much-needed final push, you know? So, here are some of the things I'll strive to do from 2017 onwards.
filter out the noise:
- Keep these two words in mind: balance and prioritise.
- Limit my time on social media. Use it consciously and only when necessary.
- Declutter my digital world. Turn off notifications, unfollow Instagram accounts, blogs, Facebook pages, unsubscribe from YouTube channels and email subscriptions, delete apps that aren't giving me real meaning. Follow people or things that I actually really want to see on my social feed.
- Declutter my room whenever possible. Donate or throw away items that I don't need or use anymore. Before buying anything, ask myself if I really, really need that item.
FOCUS ON THE MEANINGFUL:
- Spend more quality time with my loved ones. When I'm with my family or boyfriend, do my best to avoid using my phone, and interact with them more. Initiate more deep, worthwhile conversations. Remind them how much I love and appreciate them often.
- Find the right balance between living life fully in the moment and capturing those moments on camera.
- Always prioritise my studies over blogging. I truly enjoy writing on my blog but I have to remember that it's a hobby that I voluntarily chose to pursue, so don't get too upset if I can't blog as much as I'd like due to university work. (Note to self: Getting into medical school is more important right now, Nana.)
- Get enough alone time to recharge my introverted self. Remind myself it's okay to need some quiet downtime, and here's why.
- Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. I think I did this pretty well the past year, and I'll happily continue to do so.
- Make more time to read books. When I have some free time, grab a book and read instead of mindlessly use my phone.
- Meditate for at least 5-10 mins right after I wake up (if I'm not running late for lectures, haha).
- Build new patterns of stillness. From the article: "...opt for stillness and quiet. Try to just sit there and notice your surroundings. Soak it all in. Savour the moment. Meditate on your breath. Reflect on your day. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for right now."
Ahh, it feels so good to write this out and start doing some of these actions already. This list is, of course, not set in stone, and I'll probably adjust or add habits throughout the years. I feel relieved and delighted to finally start building my life around stillness and meaning.
A huge thanks to Leo Babauta for writing the article which effectively inspired and guided me to start living life the way I'd been wanting to for the past year. If you're interested in reading more eye-opening articles about finding simplicity and mindfulness in your life, I highly recommend you to head over to his blog, Zen Habits.
What noise do you find in your life?
Are you doing enough activities that are meaningful to you everyday?