Try Silence For A Change

Why do you speak so much? Because you need people to know how smart you are, right? You have to be heard. Yet, odds are: a good portion of the time you end up looking like an idiot.

This timeless truth is captured in a quote that’s been attributed to both Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln (and many others): Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Part of what Stoicism teaches is that you should control what is under your control. How people see you is not—but whether or not you open your mouth is. Consider staying quiet. Or as Epictetus put it:

“Be silent for the most part, or, if you speak, say only what is necessary and in a few words. Talk, but rarely, if occasion calls you, but do not talk of ordinary things – of gladiators or horses races or athletes or of meats or drinks – these are topics that arise everywhere – but above all do not talk about men in blame or compliment or comparison. If you can, turn the conversation of your company by your talk to some fitting subject; but if you should chance to be isolated among strangers, be silent.”

Try silence. See what happens.

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