Are you conscious of everything that is entering through your ears? Most of us don't realise that most of the sound around us is accidental, and much of it is unpleasant. Traffic sounds for example, we stand on street corners, shouting over noise pretending it doesn't exist. This habit of suppressing sound has meant that our relationship with sound has become largely unconscious.
The second way in which sound affects us is psychological. Music is the most powerful form of sound that we know that affects our emotional state. But music is not the only kind of sound that affects your emotions. Natural sounds can do that too. Birdsong, for example, is a sound which most people find reassuring. There's a reason: over hundreds of thousands of years we've learned that when the birds are singing, things are safe. It's when they stop you need to be worried.
The third way in which sound affects you is cognitively. You can't understand for example when two people talk at once. An example of this is indistinct and loud office noise. When in contact with unpleasant noises for long periods, it can be extremely damaging for productivity. If you have to work in an open-plan office, your productivity is greatly reduced by a shocking 66% slow down. So, you are one-third as productive in open-plan offices as in quiet rooms. Julian Treasure of the Sound Agency recommends "If you work in noisy spaces, carry headphones with you, with a soothing sound like birdsong. Put them on, and your productivity goes back up to triple what it would be".
The fourth way in which sound affects us is behaviourally. With all those other things happening around us, it would be amazing if our behaviour didn't change. Unpleasant sounds can make us feel really uncomfortable and for what's worse, they can be extremely damaging for the health. Pleasant sounds, as that birdsong or wind chimes flying with the wind, however have the power to increase overall satisfaction wth situations. Nature sounds have shown in research their capability to increase not only our productivity but also our feelings of happiness and satisfaction at the work place.
What we see, hear, experience at any moment is changing not only our mood, but how our nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working. This is why, for the benefit of our health and productivity, we should take control of what we are listening, just as like we take of control of what we see in our spaces. You can take a good step to improve your sound environments by exploring these natural home decor inspired in sounds to enhance our auditive sense for better living.
Let's raise our consciousness about how we hear today. If we start listening consciously, we could move to a state that could be sound living in the world.
Julian Treasure - The 4 ways sounds affect us. TED. https://www.thesoundagency.com/what/julians-ted-talks/
Tuning the cognitive environment: Sound masking with “natural” sounds in open-plan offices. http://asa.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1121/1.4920363