Sound transform us at all times, every single day. Our human relationship with sound is purely unconscious and we don’t even realize how or when these changes occur within us. Here are four ways that sound affects us on a daily basis:
Imagine sitting in the woods at night, when all of a sudden you hear a large wolf howling. Your body instinctively goes into fight/flight response by releasing the cortisol hormone. Some may stay calm while others may punch the person they are next to in reaction, which is a jerk move. Sounds are affecting your hormone secretions all the time, but also your breathing, heart rate, and brainwaves.
Music is the most powerful form of sound that affects our emotional state. However, music is not the only kind of sound to the attention of your emotions. Natural sound can do that, too. Bird sounds are a sound that most people find reassuring. There is a reason for that. Over hundreds of thousands of years, we’ve learned that when the birds are singing, things are safe. It’s when they stop that you need to be worried.
You can’t understand two people talking at once. Your brain has a very small amount of bandwidth for processing auditory input, which is why noise like this is extremely damaging for productivity. You are 1/3 as productive in open-plan offices as in quiet rooms. If you work in spaces like that, carry headphones with you, put them on, and your productivity goes back up to triple what it was in the loud space.
With all the stuff going on around us, it would be amazing if our behavior didn’t change. Would a person listening to this drive at a steady 30 mph? Probably not. At the simplest level, people will move away from unpleasant sound and towards pleasant sounds. For people who can’t get away from noise like this, it can be extremely damaging for their health.
Take control of the sounds around you. It’s good for your health. It’s good for your productivity. If we all put ourselves in better sound environments, I like to think we will all be in a state of sound living in the world.