A few days ago, as a treat, a friend and I went to see Sex and the City 2, which was tons of fun.
SPOILER ALERT: I am going to talk about the plot here for a minute, so be warned.
My favorite moment of the movie came when Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) was sobbing to Charlotte (Kristin Davis) about the fact that she’d kissed her ex-boyfriend. She couldn’t believe she’d done it, she was frantic with remorse, and she wanted to tell her husband and be forgiven.
What struck me about the scene was that, for a long time, Charlotte said nothing. She sat right beside Carrie, gently stroked her hair, and said nothing. Her posture and her face showed that she was listening, and sympathizing, but she kept quiet. Charlotte’s silence was more powerful and more loving than anything she could have said. Sometimes words can only diminish what you want to convey.
This struck me because one of my resolutions is Stop talking. I find it very easy to talk, talk, talk. I’m a talkative person, plus, as a writer, I work alone and in silence for most of the day, so when I’m around people, I have a strong impulse to talk. If there’s a problem of some kind, I want to talk, when sometimes I should be more focused on listening. Also, I worry about knowing the right thing to say, and that can distract me from listening.
A few days ago, my older daughter was upset about something, and — more because I didn’t know how to respond than because I remembered this resolution — I said nothing. Instead, I just hugged her. That seemed to give her a lot of comfort, more comfort than perhaps my commentary would have brought.
Sometimes, it’s good to talk. Sometimes, it’s good to stop talking.
From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.