Update: 2017-09-0128


In this episode, we explore ways to find quiet in our busy lives. How can we step back and make time to reflect in an increasingly distracted and hurried world? (Original broadcast date: November 21, 2014)

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

support for this NPR podcast in the following message come from Gillette the thousands of men and women at Gillette never stop working harder to make your shape better and now get blades for less visit Gillette dot com slash lower prices pricing applies to select products and is the sole discretion of the retailer eight its guy here today's episode originally aired in November of two thousand and fourteen it's called the hats and it's all about the importance of silence including the story of a man who stayed silent for more than a decade so take a listen this is the Head Radio Hour each week groundbreaking had talked the Ted Technology Design at Stanford delivered and Ted conferences around the world gift of the human imagination we had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR guy rise John Francis is an environmental activist and about a month after he decided to stop talking things started to get quiet even though I wasn't speaking I was thinking about conversations and arguments that I had in the past and oh maybe I should have said that next time I'm gonna say this and that took about a month before the conversation stopped rattling the when that happened I could hear hear myself I think for the first a very long time the nineteen seventy three and his birthday that year John Francis stopped talking this was about eighteen months after he stopped doing something else that seems both eccentric and impossible John stopped riding in cars and it happened on a particular day in nineteen seventy one John was walking along San Francisco Bay when two oil tankers collided he watched as thousands of gallons of black oil seeped into the water and so on that day John Francis out to give up all forms of gas powered transportation and he decided instead to walk everywhere so I argued a lot with people my walking in the one person might make a difference I don't think I was convince myself that one person could make a difference and I decided that I would give my community gift of my not speaking so much weight he would say people cannot kiss a way to get my car ma'am why she stopped doing that and you would argue with them and just start to get you down yeah well you know it's just like I was when I was doing mostly was the kind of defending myself from him and arguing yeah on one of the stuff that I owe to he just decided that I know but just for one day that was my idea was just a month speak for one day but it just the man on the fight started and some in for John if you stop speaking today you're not going to speak for seventeen years I might not go the Ivy clad is always an easy thing Jeff Francis seventy years the world he lives in the world the livin' is noisy and it's usually the loudest people who get most of the attention so today on the show quiet idea is that quiet people quiet minds and finding stillness in unexpected places during all that time that you can speak with your inner voice say Mommy to sound the same as the boys were here and now look I don't think the post that was it was a life if my inner voice was different somehow played on the show Jeff Francis returns to explain how he functioned without speaking for so long and why after seventeen years he decided to start speaking again but first maybe you're not about to stop speaking for seventeen years but maybe you do consider yourself somewhat of an introvert a person who prefers to be alone a person who by definition draws his energy from solitude but experts the the pervert our little different the the this is a slightly infamous clip of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who we can safely say it's a lot of his energy from being around other people I Korea I the bass the seven in an another famous extrovert Bill Clinton or the affected you in the you know people who lost the as their home well the governor of a small state for twelve years of payouts affected me lots and lots of celebrities and entertainers are experts outspoken confident charismatic surely you remember the late Joan Rivers you want to do when he grows up the area right now East End us to be a football player but how stupid do you want the uh Dan that I knew Judy Garland The The question is Why do we celebrate only that the right way we value that so much more highly than the opposite set of traits this is Susan Kane she's written a book all about introverts because I think people need to hear lies like we're not talking about some tiny percent of the population were talking about probably half of humanity most recent study it's crazy yeah and so it makes no sense for anybody really to be under valuing this way of being Susan says as a culture we place a higher value on extra perks and all sorts of ways but why do we do that here's her explanation from the Ted stage one answer lies deep in our cultural history Western societies and in particular the US have always favored the man of action over the man of contemplation but in the night in America's early days when we lived in what historians call a culture of character we re still at that point value people for their inner selves and their moral wreck today and if you look at the self help books from this year as they all had titles with things like character the grandest thing in the world and the featured role models like Abraham Lincoln who is praised for being modest and unassuming Ralph Waldo Emerson called him a man who does not offend my security are ready but then we hit the twentieth century and re entered a new culture that historians call the culture of personality know what happen is we had evolved from an agricultural economy to world of big business and so suddenly people are moving from small towns to cities and instead of working alongside people they've no they are having to prove themselves in a crowd of strangers so quite understandably qualities like magnetism and charisma to suddenly come to seem really important and sure enough the self help books change to meet these needs and they start to have names like How to Win Friends influence People and the feature is their role models really great salesman said that the world we're living in today that our cultural inheritance which brings us back to the idea of quiet earlier this idea that being introverted means you get a lot of your energy from being alone and Susan Cain says that's actually good way to think about it but there's actually a biological explanation behind all of this as well which is to say that introverts and nervous systems literally that react more to stimulation of all kinds from social stimulation and to the stimulation of lots of noise in a room and scientists have researched this there was one study in particular by psychologist Russell Gene and Dean gave to groups of people a series of math problems but then he switched on some background noise so for one group it sounded a little bit like this about as loud as a restaurant at lunchtime but for the second group to solve the problems with noise as loud as a leaf blower behind the sofa when Dean compare his results he found that the extrovert really do well with the background noise playing more loudly honey and the interest needed less background noise to work their best we think of in shirts as sort of being stuffed in their own heads simply because they are quiet but with Dean's research showed it was precisely the opposite that introverts are susceptible to being pulled out of their own heads pretty easily and they can become overwhelmed and distracted by too much stimulation in noisy or crowded places I'm an extrovert cent of nervous systems that react less and therefore crave more stimulation in order to feel kind of at their most alive and energized and I think that's really profound research you know for thinking about how children and adults everything all humans at thrive our most important institutions our schools our workplaces they are designed mostly for extra verse and directors need for lots of stimulation nowadays your typical classroom has parts of desks or four or five or six or seven kids all facing each other and kids are working in countless group assignments even subjects like math in Creative Writing which you would think we depend on solo flights of thought kids are now expected to act as committee members same thing is true in our workplaces we now most of us work in open plan offices without walls and where we are subject to the constant noise and gave her co workers when it comes to leadership in Traverse certainly passed over for leadership positions in the interest and to be very careful much less likely to take outsized risks which is something we might all have favored her teeth and what I'm saying is that culturally we need a much better balance we meet we need between these two types know this is especially important when it comes to creativity and productivity because when psychologists look at the lives of the most creative people what they find are people who are very good exchanging ideas in advancing ideas but you also have a serious streak of winter version in the the connection between introverts and my creative types well I did some some studies show that they're just introvert and some say they have a mix of introvert and extrovert it's where the extroverted enough that they can get their ideas out there and exchange ideas with other people but they're interested enough that they can tolerate the solitude that creativity requires I think this is one of the great great misconception of the modern age but this whole idea of collaboration has become such a secret word and concept yet we think that creativity all has to emerge from this very collaborative place but the semen is also true of solitude if you can't really know what you think unless you're willing to be by yourself for a while the the the the the now and then this is to say that social skills are an important and I'm also not calling for the abolishing of teamwork head up and the problems that we're facing today in fields like science and economics are so vast and so complex that we're going to need armies of people coming together to solve them working together but I am saying that the more freedom that we give introverts to be themselves the more likely that they are to come up with their own unique solutions to these problems so I wish you the best of all possible journeys and the courage to speak softly thank you very much the season came in her book based on these ideas is called quiet The Power of introverts you can see her full talk at Ted NPR dot org and the guy rise more ideas and apply it in a moment listening to the Ted Radio Hour from NPR the to Hey Everyone Just a quick thanks to two of our sponsors who help make this podcast possible first Google Cloud platform if your looking to move to the cloud Google Cloud platform provide security that scales with your business keep your data safe no matter how fast you grow to more than fifteen years of experience Google Cloud platform is focused on keeping customers' applications and data safe taking advantage of the same security model Google's done with e mail search and other apps to learn more about Google Cloud platform visit clout got google com The thanks also to see twenty financial ambitions lives everywhere in life that's why secretive partners with businesses to offer promotional financing data and Analytics and technologies that help make ambitions real and gritty financial What are you working for two it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR and I rise and Tom Show today quiet in my team strange to think of noise is the thing you would seek out if you were trying to quiet things down right there for some people noise gets the only remedy the the the So this is music from Megan actually begun to introduce yourself please my name is Megan Washington and I am a musician from Australia and Megan's not just some random Australian musician she's a pretty big deal there of the platinum the cheaper forms of thousands of people like Nick is going to be a pretty big one for you yet and I'm really excited about the face of its Megan seems like a total extrovert and just listen to this TV interview because he sounds like sounds like a pop star I've been in London oh yea making an album and says it's coming out next two will have some new music in about February or January Hamas who knows mystery mystery and no this is the person Megan Washington has to be sort of like with Susan Cain was just saying that our value is measured in a lot of ways by how charismatic we are and so a lot of us tried to be that including Megan Washington so when she went up on the Ted stage Megan reveal the secret that even some of her really close friends never knew I had a problem it's not the worst thing in the world and find them on fire I know that other people in the world have the worst things to to deal with but for me language and news is inextricably linked through this one thing and the thing is that I have a cyst other in what seemed curious given that I spend a lot of my life on this stage one would assume that I'm comfortable in the public sphere and comfortable here speaking to you guys but the truth is that I've spent my life been to this point and including this point living in the morsels shred of public speaking public singing whole different thing but we'll get to that in Lyman I've never really talked about it before though so it's implicitly I think that's because I've always lived in hopes that when I was a grown up with when I have have one twenty a I am pretty sure that I'm grown now and I'm an adult woman who spends her last as of the performer with a speech impediment the the I may as well come clean about the the civilian this was like a really big deal he said this because people were surprised Ray and Willie yeah I know I just assumed that everybody knew that I was hiding or disguising it but I was quite surprised by how many people didn't know which was every But I twenty to realize that singing would enable you to completely overcome it well the sea is a pretty calm in therapy for speech disorder inched general um if you are to sing this your answers to to me you would not have any better know and the stone Masons but you know it but I can do the voice if you want like there's a voice like it a character's voice where you know that that I use in life to get through interviews like this when mice stutter is not so welcome what is of the voice sound like well it's just sort of like these and you wouldn't really tell that it's different to my other boys except that when I used his voice and everything just comes out really smoothly I sound much more confidence and nothing happens you know it's fine and the problem with his voice is that it's not it's not my voice you know I mean it's not my it's the voice that gets the job done and that is an artist who feels that their work is is based solely on a platform of honesty and being the real and that feels often like cheating which is why before icing I wanted to tell you what singing means to me is small and making nice sounds and it's more than making nice some songs it's more than feeling or and this stood more than he is making you feel the things that I feel somehow through some miraculous sign at the function of the human brain it's impossible to stutter when you sing the in the news and when you serve discovered that this was a way for you to express herself fluently so much like you are quieting down this thing inside of you that you have control over other one that's completely accurate I find the act of singing extremely the were Taiwanese is tense less when I speak in a lot you know I often find that the muscles in my gift to to join my home Clay tense and it's you know if if it's takes a lot of effort to kind of get things out that make some sense in a yours that of excusing words that you try to St and just just the simplicity of seeing is them a place of stillness and calm the thing for May is sweet relief it is the only time when I feel fluent is the only time when war comes out of my mouth was comprehensively exactly what I intended so I know that this is a Ted talk but now I'm going to Ted seeing the This is a song that I wrote last year thank you very much think the Australian singer songwriter Megan Washington her newest album they're there came out in September check out her full talk the attack on the The heehee the boom arm the the the AA the phone off the the it to you her Ma GE as the E P the back of the story of John Francis he's a guy that we heard from earlier in the show who took a seventeen year vow of silence which by the way even China admits is totally nuts I'm too even though I think look back and think What did you do I mean how did you do that can I even asked myself here's the story as John told it from the Ted stage my journey began in nineteen seventy one when I witnessed two oil tankers Clyde beneath the Golden Gate and half a million gallons of oil spilled into the day it disturbed me so much that I decided that I was going to give up riding and driving motorized vehicles that's a big thing in California and people with dry but next time you say John what are you doing and say well my mom and walking for the environment and they said no to make us look bad right and so I argued with people about that I argued and argued I called my parents up I said I've given up writing and five in cars my dad said Why didn't you do that when you were sixteen uh uh I didn't know about the environment than their back in Philadelphia and so on I told my though I'm really happy she said You Sunday to say it minus the soap on my twenty seventh birthday I decided because I argued so much and I talk so much you see that I was going to stop speaking for just one day one day to give it a rest and so I did I got up in the morning say a word it sounds like you are at a place in life were held the party was unhappy with the person that you read the comment you are looking to get away to transform that into into something else that's interesting I think that the reason why I stopped speaking may have been to avoid arguments but I think that as the journey went on there were other things that piqued my interest about not speaking and so in order to at least to satisfy myself I made the promise of the FAO I guess that I would revisit that decision on my birthday and that ended the questioning of what I was going to speak I didn't have to ask myself everyday are you going to speak today I just didn't do that I just said Ausmus not speak for one let's see what would happen so a year became two then three and son John had come to college and a P. H. D. walk across the entire country all without speaking and when that someone knew I would cross my heart put a finger over my math right you know and promising to and and then I would cup my hand year and a nod so that you could say that ole I can hear the candidates and not driving maybe not talking about fourteen years into silence this is a nineteen eighty seven CBS aired the story about John who by that time had walked all over the country and all over the world a long time ago Utah for a few talks really well is smooth talker in the story he communicated with his own form of sign language gestures facial expressions and it's actually surprisingly easy to understand what he's trying to say inside your head and start to get quiet inside your head he started listening the new out there for our wisdom would you mind clear was a full was a quiet like a member yet they were this a couple of things when I'm walking and I might be thinking of the road and were ongoing but at some point I realize that as I'm walking I'm not thinking up about the road and where I'm going in fact I catch myself not think and then I'm thinking again of course but so there are long periods of times that I was just being on the planet and the grieving the the and I think maybe breathing has a lot to do that the the the As the years went by John did a lot of writing was named a goodwill ambassador to the UN and he became known as the Planet Walker all without using his voice and then one day he was wandering through a prison town and Venezuela and he was suddenly struck by a thought that in some ways he had become a prisoner to the prison that was the fact that I did not drive or use motorized vehicles now how could that be because when I started it seemed very appropriate to me not to use motorized vehicles but the thing that was different with every birthday I asked myself about silence I never asked myself about my decision to just use Hi Fi I didn't know who I would be if I changed and I know that a lot of times we find ourselves in this wonderful place when we got into but there's another place for us to go and we kind of leave behind the security of who we become and call to the place for who we are becoming I want to thank you for being here and I want to end this and five
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