Noise. Noise. Noise. Everywhere I go I'm bombarded with noise from the impatient drivers blasting their horns, to neighbors whose leaf blowers (what is wrong with a rake?!) make more noise than move leaves, to base music permeating the walls of every shop I enter - we're engulfed by noise today.
Noise has become omnipresent in Western culture, and it's not only affecting our well-being, but it's affecting our children's well-being too.
When there is silence, in other words, when man is not doing his thing, then the sounds of nature can be heard. Natural sounds are calming, soothing, relaxing, and melodic. Listening to them is pleasant and it makes us feel better.
Conversely, the artificial sounds of the modern world are stressful. In psychology, artificial sounds are said to promote inward-focused thinking, which means we worry and ruminate more over things that we can do little about. And this is stressful.
We know that focusing on ourselves more is not going to lead to happiness, but that helping others and doing good for others will. It seems the less we think about ourselves, the higher our chances become for feeling good.
As being in environments that encourage more inward-focused thinking will make us less happy, being in natural environments encourage outward-focused thinking, which has the opposite effect. Outward-focused thinking calms us and gives us a greater sense of well-being.
And children love nature. Forget the man-made park! Give them a tree they can climb and swing from; and a stream of water that they can wade across and splash around in, and they will occupy themselves for hours or at least until they get hungry again.
Headphones are another big problem today. People are losing their hearing prematurely because of the headsets that seem to fuse onto the head's of children today. And what about the rock concerts?
Have you been to a rock concert lately? When my son was a little younger, he asked me to take him to hear a musician he likes, Eric Church, who happened to be playing in Philadelphia one summer.
Rock concerts today are like being on a long train ride for your ears. My ear cells had been vibrating on extra-high for three hours, and it took a while for them to calm down again. It was a very odd sensation.
Like all organs, the hearing has to develop, and it has to be protected. Not spending time in nature or at least amongst natural sounds, will affect the development of the hearing. Using headsets and attending rock concerts will then damage what was developed.
Which is why 28 million Americans suffer a noise-induced hearing loss, and why many of these 28 million American's are still young.
If headsets and loud noises damage our hearing, and if being in nature strengthens it; and if artificial noises cause us to worry and ruminate and natural sounds improve our well-being, wouldn't our children be happier and healthier if we replaced their headsets with the music of the birds and the sounds of splashing water?
A fun game you can play with your children is to go out into nature and be still. Tell them that they can't make any noise, but they have to listen as hard as they can to everything around them. Explain that you'll do the same and after five minutes, you'll see who heard the most sounds.
You can lengthen the time depending upon the age of your children too.
Children enjoy doing this, and it will strengthen their hearing at the same time. But don't tell them you're doing it to improve their hearing ability. Just let them enjoy the game for the fun of it.
It will put them in touch with nature and help them learn to appreciate its majesty and charm. It will also provide them with a place for seeking solace amidst a noisy and stressful world. when they’re grown.
To learn to appreciate the music of the natural world, you have to be able to hear it first.
I have such fond memories of being on my grandfather’s ranch, sleeping outdoors under the stars, and listening to the sound of crickets and frogs at night.
So fond were they that when our old hot tub full of rain water and algae attracted a frog, I was ecstatic. He would start croaking at night and it was like music from my childhood.
Until my son decided to move him down to the neighborhood pond one night.
I never thought I’d grow up to miss a frog’s croak, but I did. To this day I love the sound of frogs and crickets because of all the nights in childhood when they sang me to sleep.
Those are the kind of memories a headset will never replace. They’re deep and they’re embedded in your soul.
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Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.
A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college.