Quiet has never come easily to Americans.
More than a century ago, Oscar Wilde labeled us "the noisiest country that ever existed."
Today, the volume is certainly higher -- and it probably didn't help when the Environmental Protection Agency closed its noise-control department in 1982.
Still, psychologists and other students of silence say people need periodic quiet. A few tips for finding it:
Start small. "If you're just beginning, take five minutes a day and go outside and find a nice, beautiful place and just think about things," says Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA.
Turn off the car radio every now and then.
Ban television one day a week, and replace it with reading, thinking or maybe a game of Scrabble.
Go on a silent retreat. Catholics, Episcopalians and Buddhists are among the denominations that commonly offer them.
Try a quiet activity, such as gardening, that allows the mind to wander.
Take a walk, tune in to nature -- and leave the Walkman at home.
-- Roy Rivenburg