3 Surprising Reasons Learning to 'Shut Up' Makes You Happier

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Surprising Reasons Learning to Shut Up

OMG, stop talking!

We all love sharing our thoughts, ideas, and stories with others. And so, we talk and talk so everyone can hear us.

Most of us can’t handle quiet at all.

In addition to the constant chatter in our heads and coming out of our mouths (a study by the National Science Foundation reports that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts per day), we also maintain a constant hum of noise all around us. 

We leave the TV blaring, even though we’re not watching, because it fills the empty space and "keeps us company." We blast the car radio while driving. We walk and exercise with ear buds stuffed into our ears. 

The noise in our mind and all around us is relentless. 

And it turns out, that noise is harmful to our health and keeps us from experiencing true inner happiness

Shutting up both the internal jabbering mind and the external noise helps us achieve better balance and calmness. A client of mine was a shotgun talker who incessantly blabbed on and on just to fill our session time. This was his way of camouflaging his fears and avoiding facing any substantial feelings. 

Many of us hide who we are in some way because of our own insecurities. Yet when you allow yourself to tune inward, you can actually reflect outward a more empowered version of you than you ever imagined. But this requires hushing up for periods of time, however briefly.

Here are three critical reasons you it's time to shut up for awhile and quiet the constant inner and outer commotion: 

1. Your brain needs regular breaks to function at its best.

We’re in such a rush to deal with our lives, to get somewhere and to tackle the next activity that we're rarely present exactly where we are.

We’re always thinking, evaluating, analyzing and interpreting, which sends us into a frenzy of thoughts. In this chronic pattern, the brain enters high alert and stress hormones release, stimulating brain activity which determines whether or not we’re in danger.

In the process, we feel tense even though, more often than not, the perceived threat is simply from our own thoughts. This non-stop neural stimulation can cause exaggerated fears and panic attacks.

And no one feels relaxed and happy with feeling of anxiety and fear racing through them. 

What to do:  Consciously take a quick time-out to halt the endless drain of mental energy. Take what I call "Productivity Pauses" two to three times every day. 

Simply take a minute to close your eyes, breathe deeply, or do some gentle yawning or stretching to relieve tension and move stuck energy. These brief "interrupters" quiet mental turmoil, allowing your brain to rest and return to the task at hand with a refreshed perspective. 

2. Your body is begging you to slow down. 

The more caught up you are in talking and doing, the more demand you put on your body and your nervous system enters excessive levels.

When this becomes our regular behavior, we become jittery and our muscles grow tight. We miss clear signs that our bodies are entering a dangerous state of imbalance. Our immune system goes into overload and the body stops performing optimally. 

As a result, we eat too much, sustain more injuries while exercising, feel unfocused, or develop headaches, indigestion and serious illnesses. The body cannot survive forever stuck in overdrive.

What to do: At least twice per day, physically stop and unwind for a minimum of 10 minutes. Trigger the relaxation response in your body to reset and restore yourself for improved performance. Here are several options to consider:

  • Set a gentle timer and take a quick nap
  • Take a warm shower or bath
  • Do some isometric exercises
  • Try very slow neck rotations

3. You gain new perspectives when you actually listen to others.

It’s nearly impossible to speak and simultaneously reflect at a deeper level. So, if you want to know what you truly think or feel, shut up once in awhile.

When my client, the frenetic talker, finally quieted down and relaxed, he learned to drop into healthy pauses that granted him space to deal with challenges better, which made him more effective in his work and relationships. Those deliberate pauses let him assess multiple perspectives (his own and others') and see the fuller, real situation more clearly.

A key aspect of effective communication is listening. When you're silent, attentive, making eye contact, and really present with another person, they feel more valued and you feel more connected to them and involved. You create a powerful bond by hearing what they say.

What to do: Simply, shut up and listen to others (and also listen inward to yourself). Don’t interrupt, judge or criticize. Sometimes you’ll find that not saying anything speaks volumes. In fact, successful negotiators use this technique most efficiently.

The bottom line — silence is powerful. 

So, seek quiet long enough to tune in your deep inner voice. It’s always there waiting for you to connect to it. Doing so will guide you effortlessly on a path to authentic happiness.

Peggy Sealfon is a Personal Development Coach and foremost expert on overcoming fear, anxiety and stress. Contact her for an introductory coaching session  Order an autographed copy of her book at Escape From Anxiety — Supercharge Your Life With Powerful Strategies from A to Z. 


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