What do you need to hear?

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by Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed.

There’s a Facebook meme out there that says something like, “For whoever needs to hear this…your laundry needs to be put in the dryer.”

This usually makes me laugh because I’m the last person who needs a reminder. You should see the pile in my family room right now. That’s enough of a reminder for me. But I do often wonder what people need to hear and when. I know in my own life, I’ve run across an article or a song or a few words that were just what the doctor ordered—words that motivated or inspired me to keep going or to take action, words that helped keep me from feeling blah or numb to the beauty of life, in all its complexities.

The problem is, those words aren’t always around when we need them. The skies don’t always open up the way we’d like and lead us to the rainbow’s end. I’m not trying to kill the myth of the leprechaun or anything, but if that pot of gold really was there for taking, don’t you think someone would have taken it already? Personally, I’d rather not wait to be hit on the head with the mallet of inspiration. When I need inspiration, I am motivated to go after it or create it. And that motivates me even more.

Want in? Here are a few ideas to get your head where you want it to be. You don’t necessarily have to do them in public.

  1. Sing the first song you ever learned as a child. I mean SING IT. Loudly. (It’s okay to slur through the words you’re not sure of.)
  2. Look around you. Note five interesting or attractive objects. Describe them out loud.
  3. Sniff the air. What do you smell? Acknowledge it. Out loud.
  4. What’s by your right elbow? Touch it. How did it get there? Recite the whole process.
  5. What does the inside of your mouth taste like right this moment? Why? Verbally explain it to yourself.

What I just suggested you do is an auditory exercise based on all the five senses: sound, sight, smell, touch, taste, with an emphasis on sound. Here’s why.

We are sensory creatures—except we forget that all the time. We think we can live in our heads or on our computers. And while that’s true up to a point, if we don’t get back to our basic human components, those rooted in the senses, we lose touch with what it means to be human. And there’s nothing that will kill motivation and inspiration more than that. Because no matter how much we might be loathed to admit it sometimes, we are indeed human, and humans connect and perceive through the senses.

Now that you understand the concept, focus on what you need to hear. Whether it’s through the car stereo or sounds you make yourself, feed your physical and metaphorical ears with the right stuff. Tired? Listen to something energetic. Bored? Listen to a TED Talk. Nervous? Shout out a short speech. No matter what you choose, make sure it’s something positive, something that will support motivation and inspiration.

            Nothing sings so loudly

            as the song of self,

            the one with the words I learned

            before I was even born.

            Do you hear what I hear?

            I think that might be my mother.

            She birthed me with her music,

            her low hum caressing my heart,

                                     pushing me gently into a physical world,

reverberating with possibility.

            How wonderful it is

            to be human.

Until next time,


This article is part of a series from my forthcoming book, Get Happy, Dammit. Copyright 2019, All Rights Reserved. Learn more at www.KatherineGotthardt.com.

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