When Justin and I were first married, I called my mom all the time. It was usually because I had a cooking question, but sometimes it was just to catch up.
Over the years, our phone conversations have tapered off a bit. I suppose I can contribute some of that to the fact that I've figured out what I am doing in the kitchen. But it was't until I listened to the podcast I want to share with you today that I realized there may be another reason.
Do you listen to podcasts? I have become a podcast geek over the last couple of years. I get my news through a podcast, my daily dose of writing instruction, and spell-binding plots I can hardly stop listening to. The great thing about a podcast is that I can listen to it while I walk Hattie, while I fold laundry, and when I am driving the many miles a day I drive to cart my kids to and from practices. When my kids are with me in the car, we often listen to Wow in the World, and I can honestly say I laugh, learn something new, and am quite wowed each time we listen. One of my favorite podcasts lately?
This podcast touches on so many different subjects, from interesting stories, to psychological discoveries, to issues facing our world. The women who narrate the show are witty and fun, and are total geeks just like me (proud of it). Their most recent story intrigued me so much, that I had to share it with you.
This one is a short one—11:35 minutes—do you have 11 minutes to listen to something that will touch your soul?
2 minutes to listen to the voicemail your mom left you yesterday?
Go, and listen to it, then come back to this post. Then, I’ll give you challenge #2 for Your Daily Unplug.
I’m betting you didn’t listen.
And because I don’t think you did (or because you may, like me, need to hear things twice to really let them sink in), here are the deets.
Millennials have killed voicemail. Among other various things—the concept of the corner office, the 9-5 workday, and department stores—to name a few.
We are so annoyed with voicemails, there are apps you can install to block your phone from being able to receive VM.
Americans spend 26 minutes a day texting, but just 6 minutes a day talking on the phone.
We delete voicemails before listening to them, or choose to have them transcribed so we can read them instead of listening.
When Leslie Seltzer, researcher at the University of Wisconsin wanted to study the hormone oxytocin (aka the love hormone), this is what she found…
When a group of girls was sufficiently rattled by a stressful test, some called their mothers and some sent them instant messages. In the girls who spoke to their moms on the phone, their stress hormones decreased while their oxytocin levels increased. The girls who IM’d their moms had no change in their stress level or oxytocin level.
Which led her to believe…
It wasn't just their soothing words they wanted, it was their soothing voice.
Another similar study found that essentially the same brain reaction occurred when the girls hugged their moms as when they talked on the phone to their moms. Which led the researcher to conclude…
When we hear someone's voice, the physiological effect we feel is similar to what we'd experience if we actually touched them.
Author and speaker, Cord Jefferson stopped me in my tracks when he said…
“It is worth considering what we’re missing out on when we neglect the voices of the people we love.”
He then told the story of how he now has only one tiny reminder of his own mother, who died of cancer.
A voicemail recording she left on his phone.
It is a minute long and is the only possession he has that he really cares about. He listens to it over and over when he misses her the most. He tries to forgive himself for fast-forwarding it the first time he heard it.
So, here are this week’s challenge(s):
Go call that someone who’s been on your mind for days.
Call your mom instead of texting her.
Make a recording of yourself letting your children know how proud of them you are (we did this on a date night a few years ago and will keep the recordings forever).
Leave a voicemail next time you call your best friend and she doesn’t answer. She just may need to hear a friendly voice, even if she can’t pick up right then.
We all could stand to hear a friendly voice now and then.
And just so you know that I practice what I preach, I called an old friend who moved to another state last week on the phone, and that conversation was the sunshine in my day. She had just had a difficult call at work, and she said talking to me helped her decompress after the stress of the call. Even though we couldn’t talk long (she was working and I was writing), the mini break we took in our work days was enough to help us power through the rest of the afternoon.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick up your phone. And use it for it’s original intention. To connect with others, using your voice.
Make the call from your phone. Don’t miss a chance to hear the tone. Cherish the sound of a loved one’s voice. It’s a sound you’ll appreciate forever, a beautiful noise.
When my grandmother was living, my mom called her every Sunday. Jersey GG (my kids affectionate name for her) didn't have a smartphone. Heck, she never even had a computer! So she caught up with my mom on her old rotary phone. You know, the kind with the cord that hangs on the wall of your kitchen. Speaking once a week, you’d think they’d run out of things to say, but the call could last an hour each time. I know that now, my mom is happy she spent that time just catching up, hearing her voice.
Would you consider leaving me a comment? Just comment that you took the challenge! Even better, tell me what you did. I’d love for us to empower each other to be more meaningfully connected in a world that presents more ways to connect than ever before, but leaves us feeling more disconnected than ever.
Let’s use our voices to stick together!
PS--This post is part of a series called Your Daily Unplug. Each week I'll post a way I am trying to "unplug" in this day and age of constant technological distractions. If you missed week #1, you can go back and read Your Daily Unplug #1.