Speech fasting: would staying silent until midday make us happier and healthier?

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Name: Speech fasting.

Age: Ancient.

Appearance:

Pardon? I’m not sure I caught that.

Oh, for heaven’s sake, this isn’t going to be very useful if you abandon the entire pass notes format, is it? Fine, I’ll talk. But only under extreme duress.

Why under extreme duress? I’m trying to speech-fast, because I want to be like Lulu.

I knew it. It’s always bloody Lulu with you. Yes, but listen. Whenever Lulu has a show, she doesn’t talk until noon. She exists in a state of extended silence. She isn’t even allowed to whisper. Doesn’t that sound great?

Lulu being silent? Anyone being silent. Lulu says it helps her “take care of my instrument. It allows me to sing.”

But you don’t sing. I know. But it turns out that speech fasting has a multitude of benefits that aren’t necessarily related to helping you perform Shout for the billionth time.

Name some. OK, in Hindu philosophy mauna is the practice of silence. The Bhagavad Gita teaches that quieting the voice and mind helps us to acknowledge the background of stillness that is our true nature.

I’m lost. The Hindu sage Ramana Maharshi spent a lot of his life in silence after having a revelation about the ocean of pure consciousness that exists in us all.

Yeah, I’m struggling here. Fine, there may be other reasons why you should spend some of the day in silence. A piece in Psychology Today last year suggested that not only does silence help us become better listeners, but it can also help us empathise with those who cannot speak, such as babies.

Sorry, what were you saying? There are also studies, such as this one published in 2006, that link periods of silence with dramatically lowered blood pressure. It can also help to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and, in mice, has been shown to promote brain growth.

And I assume that people will like you more if you aren’t constantly yammering away at them. Well, maybe not. That used to be the case, with the book How to Make Friends and Influence People advocating forging relationships by asking lots of questions of other people instead of just talking about yourself.

But? A study in 2022 asked people to participate 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% and 70% in conversations, and revealed that the people thought to be more likable were the ones who spoke the most.

So I should just go in and dominate every conversation I’m in? Only up to 70%. Talk 71% of the time and you won’t make friends or influence anyone.

But periods of silence are OK? They’re great. Now would be a good time to start one.

Do say: “Silence is golden.”

Don’t say: Anything.

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