On fulfillment: In a world full of noise, can saying less help cut through the crap?

Speak less, but with more intention. Do good and expect nothing in return. Meet hatred with indifference. Be willing to be small, so we can be great. Observe. Reinvent. Evolve for no one but yourself.  

I scribbled these words in a Moleskin full of unprocessed thoughts during the craziness of this and the vulnerability that followed this.

To be vulnerable is two parts scary and fulfilling. It can be an equalizer in a relationship– a neutral territory where people are able to find common ground and understanding. But when does saying less make more of an impact? What are the benefits of being aware and strategic in our role as an observer by listening– hard– to others and ourselves? I’ve found that being quiet and more intentioned with words has helped me make peace with the things I cannot change. Listening helps us discover ways to make the greatest impact without being the loudest person in the room. It helps us learn to spend time going unnoticed, to put our own agenda on the shelf for a moment, and gain fulfillment through another person’s story. Doing these things are harder than they seem, because it reminds us how small our role in the world really is, and forces us to spend time with who we really are and where our strengths truly live. It’s a brave thing to do, to remain small.

Could it be that a quieter manifestation in the world actually cuts through a culture of self interest and helps us find true fulfillment? Could it help us dive deeper into subjects that matter to us as individuals? After a weekend spent almost entirely off social media, these things, I ponder. I hope you all enjoyed some quality time with yourselves, too.

Additional Reading:

Mindfulness in the Age of Complexity“, An Interview with Ellen Langer by Alison Beard (Harvard Business Review)
We all seek stability. We want to hold things still, thinking that if we do, we can control them. But since everything is always changing, that doesn’t work. Actually, it causes you to lose control.

  • Another great thought-provoking post, Kate!
    Having quieter moments can really help one shed light on him/herself and see the world in a different perspective and thinking differently. It allows us to not get caught up in the moment/hype.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Kate! Hope you’re having a good Monday.

  • Yes! It is so important to let there be space, to invite open conversation around you, to comprehend silence, to allow yourself to participate as an observer at times. The insights you will gain from this are unending and yet, it is a skill that very few have mastered in this chaotic world we live in. The temptation to jump in, be the loudest, assert yourself as the best — it is just too great for most of us. But we lose our connection to our own heart’s calling and our own individual fulfillment as we strive to be seen, heard and celebrated by others.

    LOVE THIS POST. Great job, Kate!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, Heather! It takes a lot of self control and awareness to stay quiet. Love your thoughts on this subject <3

  • Interesting that you would say this, Kate. I unfollowed you on Instagram after the barrage of dog posts–they, to me, were clutter to why I had appreciated your content in the past and seemed very contrived to increase #likeitbecausethereisadoginit tactics of other social media enterprises who make money on likes and interaction regardless of the content of their posts. Your dog is cute, but has nothing to do with Wit&Delight in my opinion.

    • Hi Sharon! I’m sorry to hear I lost you on Instagram through the “barrage” of dog posts. I’ve been a longtime dog lover, and Winnie has brought more happiness to my life than I could have ever anticipated. It’s constructive to hear my unabashed sharing may be coming across as a marketing tactic (yuck and NO!), but I am finding fulfillment in sharing this new stage of my life with my followers. It’s not for everyone, and that’s OK.

      -Kate

  • The idea of letting yourself be small so others can be great is really interesting to me, and reminds me of my time as a teacher. I’ll have to think hard on how that applies to me now in my new career and relationships.

    I’ve also been reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and listening to her Ted talk and she has some wonderful things to say about vulnerability — very similar to your thoughts on it! My guess is you’ve run into her work before, but thought I’d share in case you hadn’t!

  • I have been a quiet person my whole life, always an observer. And I sometimes wonder if I should be ‘louder’, sounds silly to say but in such a noisy world it can feel like being quiet isn’t always beneficial. Not only has this reminded me that being myself is the only way to be but that being a listener is so important. Thanks Kate!

    p.s.: Aren’t dogs just the best?

  • Kate, those are lovely thoughts. I read through yesterday and they resonated with me – and I loved listening to your conversation with Jess Lively. Reading through them again gave me pause – it’s a tough balance, I think, of listening and speaking. Sometimes as a woman I think I’m listening too much, speaking (and being heard) too little, at work and in life. At the same time, putting my agenda on the shelf and listening, so to speak, can be so valuable.

    Incoherent thoughts while I’m at work, but how do you balance the “willingness to be little” with the need to stand up for yourself as a woman/feminist/person? I’m not asking in a challenging way, but in an I’m thinking big thoughts while doing mindless work at my desk kind of way. I find that it can be hard to be taken seriously in my field (science), and am not always taken seriously in life (I’m a small, amiable, young woman). You’ve been doing great work and are getting noticed for it in wonderful ways, and I’d love your thoughts.

    (p.s. I for one totally dig the puppy photos! Keep ’em coming! Sharing photos of what you love is the best way to use instagram, I think. Your blog is lovely and one I’ve enjoyed for a long time.)

    • Hi Emily, I think that’s a great question and I can relate in many ways. I often feel I have to explain myself and my career choice to people… and while I wish I wasn’t compelled to defend it, I somehow end up doing just that. It’s hard to be taken seriously when you tell someone you freelance for a living. Freelance = unemployed in most people’s minds. I can only imagine what it’s like in your career field! You definitely have given me something to think about for the next couple of days (or weeks)…I hope to share a post on the subject soon. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch via email if you want to discuss in more depth. Your experiences would be wonderful to share with readers! (and thank you for your kind words regarding Winnie! I love her so much I just can’t help myself!)