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Freedom of Speech

Higher Order of Thought™ Truth: Shut Up!

A Strategy to Be Happier

I went to a well-known national chain bookstore the other day in Los Angeles. I had just arrived to spend time working with a client who was struggling with alcohol addiction. This was the third store I had visited in LA, and I was surprised at how small they all are. The office supply store was half the size I expected. Where many of these bookstores have a whole coffee shop and seating for as many as 50 people, the store had three chairs.

I looked around and found four books that addressed the topic that I wanted to study for my own personal development. I decided to review the four books to determine which one or two would be the best choice. I walked back to the front of the store, hoping for free chair, they're all taken. I wandered around the store for solution. Finding none, I decided to go to the back corner, out of the way of everyone, and sit on the floor to review the books.

I was there perhaps for 3 min. when a worker approached me and said, “I'm sorry sir, but you can't sit here. We have chairs in front of the store.” In the past I would have felt a need to justify my existence, to explain why I wasn't doing anything bad or wrong, or maybe I would have tried to protect my ego by attacking her back. In the past I would've become indignant, remembering that “the customer is always right” and perhaps challenging her as to why there weren't enough chairs for me. I may have reacted to her rude tone, or argued “since when is it illegal to read a book in a bookstore?” But today all I said was “thank you”... and then I SHUT UP... and kept reading my books.

No argument ever occurred. No “War on Floor-sitting” police ever showed up. But most importantly, I honored my #1 Foundational Understanding – “I am the most important person in the world... to me, and my happiness matters most.” My goal is no longer to “win” arguments, but rather, not to have them at all. An inner confidence and true understanding of harmful effects of the ego let me place it aside.

Had a “store manager” shown up to reign in my criminal activity, I would have used the principles of Conflict Resolution to easily resolve the matter. But that need never materialized. I had succeeded in preventing her issues from becoming my issues. (I once used to mentally analyze many of the possible reasons for her actions: perhaps she was having a bad day; maybe her $8 per hour position of authority had gone to her head; or maybe she thought she was helping me in some way. But now I only need to understand that we all live in a different world, which saves a lot of judgment, and brain effort) I had maintained by happiness and I had accomplished my goal of reviewing the books. I purchased two of the books and left the store content and pleased.

Higher Order of Thought™ Truth:
Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom NOT to Speak!

Details: It's impossible to change others, so stop trying. Your goal is to change YOU to becoming happier each day! Happiness is the natural result of understanding who you really are, and turning your weaknesses and fears into empowerment and strengths.

Application: (How and when do I apply this?)

When someone asks me a sincere question, I offer them a sincere answer.

When someone makes a statement, I...

  1. Recognize that they live in a different world - their thoughts, rules, views, goals, and intentions may be far different than mine.
  2. Determine if their communication applies to me, is important enough for me to address, and really justifies my input. (Had I been sitting in the bookstore in front of a fire exit, then the statement from the worker would have been more valuable and would have applied to me. A group of friends considering lunch of something to which I am allergic justifies my input. A statement by someone that my office is messy requires no response.)
  3. I pay attention to my feelings. The stronger my ego and feelings are, the more I want to seek the truth, be slow to speak, and guard my happiness.
  4. When I speak, I seek to be sincere, thoughtful, constructive, and helpful, all while guarding and maintaining my happiness. If my communication is not helpful, or I sense my feelings growing dark, I rapidly adjust my communications or I SHUT UP!

Example: A mother-in-law comes to visit and makes a comment about the laundry room being dirty... no response, no justification, no talk is necessary. JUST SHUT UP! You don't have to justify who you are and what is going on in your life. This statement is judgmental. You can just smile. You can change the subject. You can do something in another room. But at all costs GUARD YOUR HAPPINESS.

If she says, “this laundry room is a wreck. A new baby always demands more time than you expect. Can I help clean it up?” This is obviously constructive and justifies your input and feedback, “that sure would be helpful”.


Since it is easier to see the issues in others, this week pay attention to those around you and consider the arguments, ego based discussions, and lowered happiness that they could have avoided had they just SHUT UP!

Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom Not to Speak. Sure, stand up for important issues and seek to make a difference. But the key is to discern when it is time to talk and when it serves you better to just SHUT UP!

Please comment below and share your experiences, discoveries, questions, or ideas!