In our previous Wisdom Note, we explored the difference between inheritance and legacy. Thank you so much for coming along with me each week as we explore and consume small “nuggets of wisdom.” These bits of wisdom help us to live a rich and satisfying life while creating a living legacy. If you miss any of our Wisdom Notes, please go to the blog to read past newsletters.
In this week’s note, we desire to ponder the wisdom of silence. With so much noise in today’s world, it is hard to deliberately invest part of each day in silence, and yet it is so needed. One of my favorite times of the day is when I walk into my office each morning, open the blinds, look out on our property with its large, mature trees that reach to the heavens, and thank God for another day. These few moments of silence help me to reset my mind for a new day.
Each of us needs to discover the art of learning to talk less and say more. Do you know who I really appreciate? Those people who aren’t uncomfortable with silence. Those people with whom you can sit at a table and have a delicious meal and not feel uncomfortable when none of you has anything to say. I love people who can communicate with one another not just with words but also with silence.
As we hike onward today, I will mix some quotes, proverbs, and some good practical “horse sense” about the treasure of silence. I am sure that you have experienced being with someone who just could not stand a moment of silence, so he or she filled every gap of silence with speaking even if it was not relevant. Some people are convinced that to be a good conversationalist there has to be a verbal conversation going on.
Life is a series of balances. Extremes on either end of the spectrum are usually not prudent. As a Swedish Proverb says, “Fear less, hope more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Hate less, love more; And all good things are yours.”
I am sure all of us have done the same where we have been in a situation when we have talked too much or have said something that was either inappropriate or irrelevant. There are times we just talk and talk without actually saying anything. Maybe it’s because we want to feel that we’re heard and that people acknowledge our presence and existence.
But, is that really the way to go about it? Wouldn’t it be wiser to talk less and say more while at the same time immersing ourselves in those moments of silence and allowing them to just be? Those individuals that habitually talk too much are usually a victim of a low self-image or a puffed-up ego, which are two sides of the same coin.
Plato described it this way, “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
It seems to me that a lot of times we talk just so we won’t keep quiet, thinking that silence is something to be ashamed about, something to be avoided. But, it’s not. There’s nothing wrong with silence. I don’t know how we got this idea that silence is awkward and that it should be avoided at all costs. In fact, two verses that I enjoy from the book of Proverbs address this issue bluntly. Consider these verses the next time you are ready to open your mouth:
The first one is, Proverbs 17:28, “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”
The next one Proverbs 10:19, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
These two verses should give us pause when we feel compelled to open our mouths and share our “wisdom.”
Silence is a precious gift. In that space between our words is where we find ourselves. When the mind is quiet, when there are no thoughts and no words to be said, we can hear our own heart talking to us. We can hear our own soul and our own intuition. These are the times that God can really communicate with us as Herman Melville explains exactly what I mean, “God’s one and only voice is silence.”
When we allow ourselves to be quiet, to breathe in and breathe out, without the need to force ourselves into saying another word or thinking another thought, that’s when we can hear God’s voice, our inner voice, our heart, and intuition. That’s when we can experience our spirit being united with God’s Spirit. This is where we are able to discover our own beauty and perfection that we are within God’s economy.
I have learned more from being quiet and from embracing silence than I have learned from thinking and from talking. Silence is my greatest teacher, whispering things in my ear and helping me know things that I won’t be able to discover from anywhere else. Francis Bacon said it this way, “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.”
The reason why so many of us are under so much stress is that we haven’t yet learned how to quiet our minds and embrace silence. We haven’t yet learned to appreciate and see the value and the wisdom that come from being quiet.
Who says that you have to be thinking and you have to be talking all the time? Who says that it’s not okay to have moments when you just don’t have anything to say? Who says that you should be talking nonstop even when you don’t have anything valuable to say?
The Roman poet Ausonius said, “He who does not know how to be silent will not know how to speak.”
Learn to talk less, but say more. When you use your words, use them because they will brighten someone’s day and because they will teach and impact people with something valuable. Don’t just use words for the sake of using them. Use them because you have something to say.
Do you believe that we can only communicate by using words? Do you think silence is something to be avoided? When you are alone with someone, if there are moments when none of you has anything to say, does that silence make you feel uncomfortable?
Some of the most precious times that Paula and I have is the comfort that we can have being together and not saying anything. Knowing that our love for each other is always there, even when nothing is being said. Become comfortable with yourself.
As we continue on our Wisdom-Trek each day, take time to be silent and reflect on life. Remember that God spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper. In our next Wisdom Note, we will look for the 9 moments of happiness. Encourage your friends and family to also join us on our daily podcast for another day of our Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.