The Importance of Listening

There’s so much we hear in a day, most of which we forget, and I’m not talking about the background noises we hear like the annoyingly loud sound coming off my laptop right now. I’m talking about the conversations we have with our friends, the bird on my window sill that wakes me up before my alarm does, the lectures that we attend and listen to, the youtube videos that we watch, you get the idea. But how much of this do we remember? There’s no one in the world who could possibly remember everything they’ve ever heard- the brain’s designed to remember only certain things, things that the brain decides are important enough to be remembered. It acts much like a filter, that’s why you may not be listening to anything your teacher’s saying but the moment you hear your name you are instantly attentive. It’s not that you didn’t hear the rest of the things; it’s just that your brain didn’t think them important enough. And then these things that we hear go into our short term memory where they go through another filter, and what gets the seal of approval goes into your long term memory. So that voice of the girl you love, or the exact exchange of conversation you had with your role model, or the first song you danced to are all so clear in your mind because your brain classified them worthy of being there.

But if the brain’s got its own way of sorting out what must be stored, then why am I talking about the importance of listening? Seems like we’ve got it all under control, right? Actually, no. If no one’s brought this up to you before, allow me to.. there’s a difference between hearing something and listening to something. To hear is to hear that song on the radio while doing the dishes, to listen is to drop the dishes and pull up a chair to listen to the song. Or, let me put it this way.. to hear someone is like flipping through a 987 paged book, and to listen to someone is like turning to page 754.

But I still haven’t spoken about why we need to listen more. Here’s why.

If you take a moment to slow things down and step out of the rush that we’re all in to reach no place, you’d notice that we people aren’t merely people. If you look close enough, you might even notice that we’re not hinges and brackets put in place to fix those muscles and bones. We’re not merely tendons and ligaments either. What we truly are, is a soup of stories, each person one prepared by a different cook. We’re made up of so many stories that if we were to pen them all down, we wouldn’t have enough resources.

Forget the lectures, forget the classes or the presentations that you never listened to.. but how many stories have you listened to? Not the ones like. They come in so many layers and with so much of depth that these are one of my favorite things to listen to. I’m no expert in the field of listening but I do what I can. I listen to people, I listen to songs, and I listen to silence. Because nothing says stories like those who have lived through them. These unpublished masterpieces are what really catch me off guard. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn by merely listening. For instance, if you listen to the brush strokes of a painter, you’re listening to the story he’s trying to paint. If you listen to the pauses of a speaker, you can decipher his fears. If you listen to the sound of the wind whistling, I swear you can almost hear nature’s plea.

Listening broadens your mind and opens up new perspectives. Sharing ideas is one of the best ways to know the person you are conversing with and you can only do this by claiming your part of listening, so listen to your friends, to your colleagues and to everything around you. The importance of listening, in my opinion, is something we should all embrace.

The world is full of stories, waiting to be heard… listen to one today.

Reading is a form of listening so thank you for reading my thoughts, because if not for listeners like you, my thoughts would only be just words trapped inside my mind.

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