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“Be quiet! I’m trying to think.”
by Jeff Whitaker of Giving Voice to Vision

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Photo from Photoxpress

Those of us who spend a lot of time in the business of creativity know the feeling. You need to come up with something. But you’re just not ‘feeling it’. Good news. I may be able to help you spark a creative idea or two.

We’ve all been told at one time or another, “Be quiet! I’m trying to think. Well, it could be that may not be the best admonishment to get the creative juices flowing. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research finds that when you compare next to no noise (or silence) to moderate levels of ambient noise, turns out moderate noise wins out as a better environment in which to create.

Apparently it works this way. Moderate background noise (70 decibels) creates enough of a distraction to push people to think more creatively where as complete silent can have the opposite effect. The researchers say a relatively noisy environment like a cafe or coffee shop may actually trigger the brain to think abstractly and in turn generate creative ideas. (I’m sure the caffeine doesn’t hurt.)

The study also cautions that excessive noise like a jackhammer isn’t the answer either. Too much noise really does make it hard to think. Guess its true that as with many other aspects of life, moderation is the key, literally.

So, the next time your project calls for a jolt of creativity, excuse yourself and head to the nearest coffee house. Who knows what you’ll come up with.

What are some of your best ideas for sparking creativity and do you agree or disagree with the findings of this study?

I am the Pastor of Programming and Media at Shore Fellowship Church, one of the largest churches in Southern New Jersey and one of the fastest growing churches in the nation.

Noise is more tolerable than complete silence.

Man of Noise, silence vs noise, hate silence, love noise and music

Man of Noise. Photo from

I can’t stand the complete silence. I feel like my head is about to pop. Every second more of silence will add up to the chances of me being mad. I’ll do all things, even writing, with music if the surrounding is mute. The sound of fan would do, or the wind brushing the trees outside, but not the silence.

Do you know that silence kills? Of course you don’t, because I made that up. But it will kill me if you locked me into a room of blankness, nothing that could make any sound at all. That is a terrible nightmare I just imagine myself of being into, and see, this is what silence do – creeps you out!

Silence causes trauma to the brain. The temporal lobe is constantly expecting waves from the acoustic nerve. If there’s silence, there’s no message to deliver to the brain. So it makes you uncomfortable because there’s an anomaly. From ears to your brain and everything in between is not functioning the natural way. This is my reasoning why I hated silence, and I’m impressed at how this paragraph looked so academic as I made this up as well.

We reason in accordance to what we believe, and we accept that reason because it supports us. I just feel nothingness in silence, like I’m not moving forward, stagnant like the dead. Silence is really unfavorable.

Which would you prefer, silence or noise?

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