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  • Writer's pictureMark McMinn

Be Still, My Ego

You know that thing where you're in a crowded restaurant and it's hard to hear the people you're with? So you talk louder, and your friends do, too, and pretty soon everyone else in the restaurant is talking louder so you and your friends dial up the volume some more. A loud vicious cycle, that.

And yes, there is a social media equivalent.

Ours is an age of loud people, convinced they hold the truth, getting louder and louder in order to be heard. One Scientific American blogger put it succinctly: “All of our egos are just too damn loud.”

Maybe in an election year people get even louder.

Most of my blogging ideas are too loud. I want to confront the bullies, proclaim my understanding of the truth, shout from the hilltop how the world should be. But if I were to write these words, it would just encourage those with different views to shout from their own hilltop, and then I would be contributing to making the world louder when it's already deafening.

So instead of giving in to the loud clamor in my brain, my next blogging adventure invites us to spaces of quiet. As is likely true for most bloggers, I am writing this for my own sake as much as my readers. God knows, I need to quiet my soul.

My framework for this series will come from a book edited by psychologists Heidi Wayment and Jack Bauer.

These experts identify the qualities of a quiet ego, which is roughly how I will organize my posts:

  1. Introduction (this post)

  2. Detached awareness

  3. Interdependence

  4. Compassion

  5. Growth

  6. Conclusion

Those who learn to quiet their egos enjoy various advantages over others. They tend to be more cooperative, humble, benevolent, and honest. Those with louder egos tend to be more hostile, aggressive, and entitled.

One of my first exposures to the idea of the quiet ego was writing a book with my friend, colleague, and former student, Dr. Paul McLaughlin.

Neither Paul nor I hold ourselves up as exemplars of wisdom, but we learned so much about the science of wisdom while research and writing this book. I can confidently say that wisdom involves a whole lot of quiet.

I hope you'll join me on this adventure. Let's ponder how we can be quiet in a loud world. Perhaps in the process, we'll become calmer, too, and maybe a bit wiser.

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