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The golden moment of silence

by Anna Dyson

Doing the right thing isn't always the right thing to do. I never really understood that. Surely, if I'm right, then I'm right in doing what is right, right?!

Well, it's not always the kind thing to do, and sometimes, it isn't the right thing to do either.

Last week, I was walking home from a lovely dinner out with my son, and we had an argument. It wasn't terrible, but he was insistent that I was wrong on something, when I really knew I was right.

The old me would have carried on, carefully explaining my point of view, using my best articulation skills to ensure that he was able to understand what I was saying, and that I was in fact, right.

He got increasingly frustrated, and annoyed at me, and the tension was escalating. I was getting increasingly frustrated that this stupid argument was ruining what had been a very pleasant evening.

I reached into my Mussar toolbox - what could I do differently? As I was thinking about it, I noticed I had stopped talking, and he had walked ahead. I noticed the silence. Silence! Shtika! That is a Mussar middah (soul trait). Through noticing, allowing, enjoying, creating space for silence, Mussar was teaching me that this was the very thing that was, after all, the right thing to do all along. The tension defused, and by the time we were home, we had had a very pleasant and enjoyable evening after all.

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