Active noise-canceling headphones eliminate noise by recording the ambient sound and playing back the opposite wave-form in real-time, effectively canceling any unwanted sound vibration.
Although more sound waves surround us, less noise ultimately reaches our eardrums resulting in clearer and crisper music or vocals.
On the other hand, passive noise-canceling headphones try to use a different strategy. They attempt to isolate the entire ear from outside noise with a tight seal, inside or outside the ear.
When silencing the background voices in our heads, we have the same two strategies at our disposal: We can actively surround ourselves with extracurriculars and community that help us be more present – or isolate ourselves with routines and practices like meditation and mindfulness.
Don’t worry about perfecting one or the other. Alternating between both is probably the better strategy.