Calvin Coolidge, President Of The United States
“I have never been hurt by what I have not said.”
Most people hope that they have the right words to say at the right time, but have you ever contemplated the value of silence? Silence is probably the most underused form of speech. We somehow think we can make things better if we explain something more. This is clearly not always the case.
It is possible to lose a sale, or a customer altogether if you keep on talking after the deal has been accepted. You can cause additional grief at a funeral by talking too much when you are nervously trying to comfort someone. It’s even possible to cause wars when somebody like a President talks too much. President Coolidge had so little to say, his nickname was “Silent Cal”. I think we can learn a little from him on this point.
In Episode 10 of Daggers Of The Mind, I told of another time when silence was just what was needed.
Here is an excerpt:
When my father-in-law was ill and coming to the end of his life, he had an old friend who was still mobile, and would come to visit him about once a week. The delight of both men to see each other was quite evident, but after the initial greetings and small talk, they would lapse into silence. For more than an hour sometimes, there would be no words spoken at all, and they would just sit there smiling and looking around. Finally, the visitor would stand and take his leave, my father-in-law thanking him profusely for visiting and saying how much he enjoyed the talk.
If either of them had continued to talk, it would have ruined the visit. Their personalities and relationship made it the perfect solution.
This next quote illustrates another time when you could get into trouble by talking.
“How many people here have telekenetic powers? Raise my hand.”
According to The Free Dictionary .com, Telekinesis is “The supposed inducement of movement of an object by mental or spiritual power.”
Bragging or telling others you can do things you aren’t able to do for extra attention or just to belong to a certain group can get you into a lot of trouble when you are asked to demonstrate your ability in the real world. Embarrassing and not very funny. It’s much better to keep your mouth shut.
I will be the first to admit that when I get excited about a subject, I can really get verbal. I try to school myself to check the listener’s expression to see if they really want to hear what I have to say, or if they would rather get back to what they were doing before I opened my mouth and broke the silence.
People who spend a lot of time with people who talk too much all the time totally understand the meaning of “Silence is golden.”
I think if we learn to be silent more often, we can all have a golden life.
Isaac Asimov, Scientist and Prolific Writer
“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’ “
As we go through the day to day routines of our lives, it is easy to get numb to pretty much everything. Our minds can become blunt objects. What we are lacking at this point is anticipation and curiosity about the world around us.
When we lose that sense of wonder, and the desire to learn about things that actually intrigue us, we are throwing away our main source of new knowledge and problem solving skills, that is, our curiosity.
Curiosity is something that comes naturally to babies and children. There are many things they don’t understand around them and there is a thirst simply to KNOW. Parents who find it too much trouble when their child asks questions is stifling their impulse to learn.
Eleanor Roosevelt said,
“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.”
In many adults, the destruction of this great resource is complete. Like zombies, many go through their routines with nothing more than a knowledge of the routine, thinking that some day they will retire and life will be somehow better.
Lately there have been a lot of ads regarding mind exercises to give people protection against developing dementia. Looking online, there are a bunch of websites that are supposed to keep you sharp as you age. I can’t really make any claims about this, but it certainly can’t hurt to exercise you mind. I really think, however that there is plenty to keep your mind occupied without having to pay someone to customize a program to keep your mental cylinders firing.
Simply reading a book instead of watching TV can stimulate the creative part of your brain as you imagine the scenes that are being described to you. Playing chess, crossword and other types of puzzles, and many other things that cause you to think about a solution, or be simply curious can give your brain a workout and keep sharp focus.
If you make this type of brain stimulation part of your everyday routine, it will become second nature, a habit that can only be good for you to practice. We need our brains. It’s not likely we will have the chance to obtain a spare anytime soon. Take really good care of the one you have. Oh yeah, if someone says, “That’s funny”, pay attention and learn something.
On the Science Daily website, there is an article that explores how curiosity can enhance the learning experience. Check it out! The link is included in the show notes for Episode 34 at daggersofthemind.com.