Peaceful silence is a priceless commodity in today’s busy world. Here are tips for finding quiet moments, even amid the chaos and clamor

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: I haven’t seen you write anything about “noise clutter” in your column. My husband likes to keep the TV on news channels even when no one is watching. My kids want the radio on all the time when riding in our car. My coworkers play music all day while we work. I feel drained from all the noise I am surrounded with. Can you comment on the effects of noise?

Many recent studies indicate how noise in the environment affects health, well-being and stress. In doing research for a class I teach about the importance of decreasing noise clutter, I found studies that show that by decreasing the amount of negative noise we allow in our lives, we can dramatically increase our ability to tune in to our inner voice and “hear” our intuition. Moreover, all negative noise and information we take in contributes to mental stress, which in turn creates “internal noise” within our heads.

While at Harvard, Shawn Achor, one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success, researched and found evidence — much of which is published in his book, “Before Happiness” — that noise can lead to a negative reality, limiting your potential. Science now shows that by decreasing the flood of noise your brain receives by just 5 percent, you can substantially improve your ability to tune in to the more positive signals, leading to more success in life.


Noise is defined as not just what is audible, but what you are exposed to in the form of information, as useless information is like “noise” to the brain.


Noise addiction

Noise has become an addiction in today’s world of technology — TV, iPods, iPads, smart phones and computers, all easily accessible and often either playing in the background or monopolizing our minds.

Many don’t realize how much negative information we read or listen to. Just imagine you are at a party and someone says, “Hi! Did you see the car accident on the freeway? It’s crazy how many accidents this city has had this week, not to mention the shootings in Chinatown. Oh, I see you are drinking vodka. Do you have any idea how many brain cells you are killing by drinking this evening? And by the way, I just saw all this information about how people your age are getting sick more than ever before…” What would you do? You would think that you might excuse yourself and do your best to ignore him or her for the rest of the evening, but interestingly, we have trouble ignoring negative information, whether it is relayed by an individual, a newspaper, computer, TV or radio.

Internal noise

Noise also can be internal. We can think of internal noise as mind chatter, the negative voice of worry, anxiety or fear, through which we lose valuable energy. To create the most peaceful and beneficial reality and to be more effective, pay attention to how you can minimize both external and internal noise.

How to decrease noise intake

Studies have shown that being conscious of your daily noise consumption and making simple changes in habit can reduce negative stimuli, making a substantial positive difference. Even if you are unable to control all the noise, you can incorporate a few of the following tips to decrease your noise intake.


• If you are alone in the car, leave the radio off for the first five minutes, and if you are with someone, turn the car radio off and have a quiet conversation. • Mute all TV commercials and skip any Internet commercials. • When working, listen to no music at all or music without lyrics. • Limit watching prediction news, which can set you up to stress about things that may or may not happen.

Positive thought patterns

Positive thought patterns can counter negative energy. Negative thinking — fear, self-doubt, anxiety, pessimism or worry — takes us away from creating positive change in our lives.

Creating internal waves of positive energy

Positive thoughts, generally quiet and quieting, create positive energy internally and externally, and require us to be in the now. That doesn’t mean that you deny or ignore life’s unpleasant situations, but it does mean that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way by thinking the best will happen no matter what the circumstance.

For example, some years ago during the devastating fires in California, one couple who had lost their home and all of its contents, told a reporter that they felt blessed to have survived and to have been given an opportunity to start over, to create a new life and environment for themselves. They were smiling through the entire interview and in the background their house was a mass of embers.

If you can find the benefit in the worst of circumstances, you will lessen not only the internal but also the external noise in your life, because what we think, we draw to us.


A pessimist will draw in more negativity and noise or chaos, while an optimist will draw more positivity, calmness and quiet. Evidence shows that by being more aware of our noise intake and then making changes, we can create a more positive environment — both outer and inner.

Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, a friendly educational establishment at Na Lama Kukui (formerly known as Gentry Pacific Design Center) on Nimitz Highway. At Happiness U you’ll find dozens of inspiring classes all geared toward personal growth, helping you live a more purposeful and ease-filled life. Visit online at