In a typical year, I speak at lots of conferences around the world, many include a breakfast, lunch, or dinner event where the volume in the room can get quite loud.  Everyone is chatting it up on the exciting things that are happening to them and what kids, grandkids, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, dogs and cats are doing. Occasionally the conversation can be interesting, but most of the time it’s just chattering – which we love to do and which is seldom about deep issues.  I often wonder, are we losing the art of a quiet spirit and thoughtful work?  On an episode of Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey TV series, the great actress Dame Maggie Smith who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham gives us something to ponder when she states with her stone face, “At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.”  We love to be excited and to socialize.  I’m as guilty as anyone which is why the dowager’s comment made me laugh.  I have one friend whose volume level is over the top most of the time.  On a scale of 1-10, she’s an 11. Everything is “SO EXCITING – SO THRILLING – SO AWESOME!” I’m exhausted after being with her for an hour. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to be excited over things, talk about our lives and have fun, but much of the time we need to shut up and reflect. 1 Peter 3:4 reminds us that, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”  The luxury of time afforded by great wealth isn’t the only reason to pause and reflect.  Even when we have to work for a living we can use time more wisely to read, think, and ponder.  We can develop our minds to understand more of God’s wisdom. We can be interesting and provocative thinkers, researchers, developers, and artists.  We simply have to shut off the outside media faucet of distractions.  It’s great to be a carefree, person, and to keep up on what’s trending, but let’s never forget the importance of time alone.  It’s quiet, consistent, and thoughtful reflection that will speak volumes in the end. Remember: Your actions become habits, habits become character, and character becomes your destiny.