The second virtue that Benjamin Franklin practiced was Silence. He advised to speak that what may benefit others or yourself and to avoid trifling conversation.
With regards to speaking Aristotle had proposed a very simple and effective test known as the Triple Filter Test. When one of his friends came and told him that he had some news to share, Aristotle stopped him and asked if he had used the triple filter test. He said, before one speaks, one should check if any of the following questions is true, with respect to what one has to say:
- The Truth Test: Is it true?
- The Goodness Test: Is it something good?
- The Usefulness Test: Is it something useful?
If the answer to anyone question is yes, then one should tell it. Else, it would be better to remain silent.
Today, it is a world of self-promotion. We find people too loud and verbally too aggressive. When one is too preoccupied in airing ones views, it does not give us the time to reflect, think and construct the correct world view. This is where silence helps. Silence is the garden where good thoughts grow. Silence provides us time for introspection, time to review our goals and time to think about course correction. The best form of silence is not just to stop talking – it is to stop thinking – it is silencing the mind.
There is a constant inner talk that goes on in our mind. This inner talk affects us in many ways. It drains us of our energy. It can create a negative outlook and persona. The way to stop this is to silence the mind – an extremely difficult, but very powerful tool that one can acquire. Silence calms a person. It paves the path for clear and focused thinking and thus taking correct decisions.
The virtue of silence has been described as a source of great strength by the Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu. Francis Bacon, the English Philosopher compared silence to the sleep that nourishes wisdom. Unfortunately, in the affairs of the world today, silence is seen as a weakness. The most loud and vocal groups or persons are making the most hay. But from the development of your inner strength and virtue, silence is as effective today as it was 300 years ago.