Who do you listen to? Who do you not listen to? I'm currently obsessed with Billie Eilish (like the rest of the world) and her brother Finneas has some cool music too. I listen to the radio, to the show on Netflix (I'm watching the newest episode of Black Mirror
), to my friends, to random podcasts, audiobooks
, and sometimes God. (kidding, I listen to him all the time).
But how can listening contribute to shaping who you are and the environment you live in? Listening can impact you in many ways. It can teach you things. It can enlighten your creative bubble. Plus, it can cheer you up. So why are we talking about listening?
It's World Listening Day!
What is World Listening Day? How come I’ve never heard of it? (pun not intended). According to National Today
's website, World Listening Day is organized every year by the World Listening Project, a nonprofit that is "devoted to understanding the world and its natural environment, societies and cultures through the practice of listening and field recording." Essentially, this organization explores acoustic ecology where people and the natural world are studied in conjunction with one another. You can read more about it here
In this modern world of communication, constant chatter, texting and social media dominate the majority of our day. How can we practice active listening if people are talking all the time? I'll be honest. I'm a horrible listener. This is because I like to talk and talk and talk. I'm the kind of person who talks and will not stop unless someone shushes me. But I'm working on becoming a better listener and practicing active listening at least once a day. So as today is world listening day, I feel like it is a great day to start putting those practices to use. Some of you may ask, how do you become a better listener?
Here are 5 ideas to start with:
1. Try mindful meditation
Now you might think meditation is for hippy yoga lovers or old people who like quiet time. NOT TRUE! Meditation doesn’t have to be done in a yoga studio or on a mat or just on World Listening Day. Mindful meditation can be done anywhere. At home, at work, in bed, in the shower, you name it. Basically, this kind of meditation is focused on being mindful and being focused on something. You can focus on your breathing, repeat a mantra in your head, or simply push away the clutter in your mind.
Meditation can help you start listening intentionally, especially to yourself, as well as helping you distinguish all the different voices in your life. I find meditation a wonderful practice and I start my morning with deep breathing and meditation exercises. After doing this, my mind feels more open; I feel calm and more awake. This has brought focus in the morning when I feel groggy or tired. Not sure how to get started? There are lots of great books that explain a Christian approach to meditation like, like Quiet Prayer
and Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation.
2. Take a solo walk without your phone
Going for a walk, without any distractions, without anything chattering in your ear can be relaxing, and simply, refreshing. This exercise also helps you become a better listener. Listen to your surroundings (like all those chirpy birds and buzzing cicadas), listen to the city, listen to the traffic, listen to yourself. I personally love solo walks because it gives me a chance to BREATHE. Without my phone going off every minute, I am able to spend time with myself, and enjoy the moment. I also believe one on one time is super important and crucial to self-care. Not only are you giving yourself a break, but you’re giving yourself the gift of the present. You are being present in a way many people forget to because they’re rushing off to one thing or another.
My ideal version of a nature walk
A great book that will make you want to go off the grid is While Beauty Slept
by Elizabeth Blackwell. A twist on a classic fairy tale, readers are invited to an enchanting, yet sorrowful world of royalty (where technology does not exist!!). This book explores the timeless tug of war between love and duty. Should you give up your happiness to serve your mistress? Or do you fight to live a life full of love?
3. Read a book from a point of view different from yours
I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening)
by Beth A. Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland is one of our faves. It's a beautifully written book by two mothers, with differing political values, who discuss the importance and the possibility for people to be respectful and to have grace-filled conversations. Even if you aren't well versed in politics, this book shares vital tools that help you understand other people on the hard, tough stuff in life. Beth and Sarah invite us to reconsider ways we can communicate and listen in a respectful manner while having discussions on important issues. The biggest takeaway for me is that yes, we all have differences, but that shouldn't come between us. Instead, we must choose us. We must choose humans over harboring hatred. We are all humans and citizens for that matter. And we can have civil conversations. This is a great book to help you start your new listening journey!
4. Listen to a new podcast
Podcasts are the one thing that keeps me alive, other than food. They feel personal; they feel inspiring. Listening to podcasts can make me laugh, help me learn something new, and above all, allow me to practice being quiet and just listen. Grace Valentine’s I’m Tired
podcast is a motivational, fun, relatable platform hosted by Grace, who is a popular author, blogger, and speaker. She discusses topics like guy/girl relationships, racism, children, Jesus, and even brings on guests who spice it up. This podcast brings some peace to those who are overwhelmed or just plain tired in the hard, challenging seasons of life. If you’re needing a new podcast to listen to on your drive to work, from class, during your workout, this is a great one to lift your spirits. Grace knows what she’s talking about. She’s been through what you’ve been through.
5. Practice listening with a friend
You can improve your listening skills right now. Grab a friend. Start listening together. You may ask, how do I begin this conversation? Well, I read a book on marriage where the author describes different practices for couples to try in an effort to strengthen their relationship. The one that caught my attention was the 5-minute listening challenge. Essentially, the couple sits in front of each other and one of them will talk for five minutes uninterrupted while the other one listens. Then, once the five minutes are over, they switch roles. Say what? I have to sit there for five WHOLE minutes while my partner talks? Crazy isn't it. I think this is a great way to practice listening to someone (anyone) with your full attention and without interjecting.
If this cat and dog can learn to share, you and I can learn to be better listeners
How will you listen today? Why is it important to be a better listener?
For those who are already embracing their listening ears, check out these fun audiobook posts!
Intern Sarah is an avid hiker and food enthusiast. Other than being a mediocre listener, she spends her time reading books for the W Publishing team, exploring new coffee shops, and wandering the Appalachian mountains.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. (HCCP), operates Page Chaser, and is the publisher of
I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening).