I often think about the difference between something that’s good and something that’s excellent.

Whitespace is one of those things that can take something from being just ok to being amazing.

What do I mean by Whitespace?

I mean silence, emptiness, void, quiet… you get the picture.

For example, sometimes you listen to a song, and it blows you away. Not by the amazing notes or riffs or carefully crafted harmonies, but by the pauses and the carefully missed notes. Those missed notes are just as important as the ones played, sometimes even more.

Think about a song you love, and now listen to it again – this time listen for things like dynamics (songs getting louder, quieter), silence, and restraint. You’ll probably notice that the silence or quietness makes the song that much better. If your music doesn’t have silence, try listening to some Blues.

 

Whitespace is everywhere.

 

Designers often talk about a design having great whitespace. Purposefully designed emptiness to make something look excellent. Cluttered design looks… bad.

Life need whitespace.

Research has shown over and over again we have our best ideas in the shower, when we’re walking, driving, when we are in silence. I think the reason for this is that void creates space for new things. If our minds are constantly filled, there’s no room for anything else.

If you pack your backpack so tight with things, there’s no room for what you might find on the way.

Some of the best memories I have with friends and loved ones happen when nothing was planned, and we were doing nothing – silence makes space for great shared memories.

I got my first cellphone when I was 24 and I remember leaving it at home and treating it like a home phone. Why? Because I didn’t want to be bothered while I was out with friends or doing other things. Now I carry my smartphone everywhere I go, and I sometimes wonder if for all the great things it can do, it actually might do more harm in the long run.

I live in a world that’s begging for my attention – watch this, read that, do this, eat here, play, stream, run, track your steps, get more points, but rarely does it ask me to just sit, enjoy, relax, or unwind.

I think there’s great strength and beauty in learning to cultivate whitespace in our lives.

3 thoughts on “Whitespace

  1. This is a great reminder, thank you.

    If our minds are constantly filled, there’s no room for anything else.

    Yes! One of those things that’s easier said than done for some of us. Do you find this comes naturally to you or do you do things like meditate to get better at it?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely not “naturally” – I find the things that help me the most are being outside, walking our dog, and just exploring things outside. Walking is probably the best one, I don’t listen to music or audiobooks or anything – just try to watch what’s happening around me and walk slowly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful piece Mikey!

    This post has given me the idea to set aside some time everyday to enjoy the whitespace. I imagine I will discover that more good comes of this than from me trying to consume from my iPhone as much as I possibly can.

    In the future I’m going to try to keep empty space in my backpack!

    Like

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