He tells us that, according to research from McKinsey: “the typical American hears or reads more than one hundred thousand words every day.”
Think about that for a moment.
100,000 words. EVERY DAY.
When I think about that, I immediately think of a few things: A Lion, a King, and a Monk.
Specifically, I think about Alberto Villoldo’s wisdom that we are now exposed to more stimuli in ONE WEEK than our ancient ancestors were exposed to in their ENTIRE LIFETIMES.
As he says, we evolved to deal with one lion roaring at us at a time. Now, with 24/7/365-global news, it’s as if the entire jungle is roaring at us all day every day. (Which, btw, is one of the reasons why obsessive news and talk show consumption is correlated with anxiety, depression, etc.)
(Another btw: Here’s a crazy stat from Nasha Winters in The Metabolic Approach to Cancer. She tells us: “We can slug down more sugar in thirty minutes than our ancestors would consume in an entire year.” <- Yikes. And we wonder why we’re all so sick…)
That’s our Lion. (Side note: Emerson and I just read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and are now working our way through the Chronicles of Narnia. Love it.)
Then there’s our King. Stephen King to be precise.
In On Writing, King says that the hardest part of his creative journey was when he was a full-time high school teacher trying to make it as a writer. Although he loved the kids, at the end of the week he felt like his brain had been attached to jumper cables (!) and it was REALLY hard to simmer down and write anything worth reading.
Then there’s our Monk: Thich Nhat Hanh.
He tells us that everything we are exposed to is a “nutriment” that needs to be “digested.” Those 100,000 words we hear and read every day? Your brain has to process them and digest them just like all the food you eat (and that sugar you might be consuming!).
All of that to say…
To put it very directly: If you’re the “typical” American, jamming your consciousness so full of words (and stimulation) all day every day, you probably have a VERY hard time ever coming up with an original thought. (Laughing. Sorry to break the news…)
At least that’s MY experience when I open the tap a bit too much to news—I find myself waking up in the morning thinking about what’s going on in the world vs. what I want to CREATE in the world.
Of course, as with everything, there’s a balance.
btw: This is also why I very rarely have any music on (and never any talk shows) when I’m driving (that’s my silent time to decompress and think and integrate!) and why I NEVER (!!!) bring any technology with me when I’m in nature hiking (that’s my silent time to decompress and think and integrate!).
Again, we all need to find our path and our optimal balance.
To the extent we’re committed to being more CREATIVE than REACTIVE, I say we trim that 100,0000-word count down and remember Mark Twain’s quip that anytime he finds himself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect. And, of course, there’s Krishnamurti’s genius line that being well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society is no measure of health.
Let’s break away from the noise and make some noise in the world!
Unlock this Optimize +1 (and over 1,000 more) for free!
The Optimize membership used to be $100/year. It’s now free. No credit card required. No strings attached. Just more wisdom in less time.