Book excerpt:


Henry Holt & Co

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Author Dan Lyons’ new book, “STFU: The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in an Endlessly Noisy World” (Henry Holt), is a call to talk less and listen more.

Read an excerpt below, and Don’t miss Dan Lyons. “CBS Sunday Morning” March 19!

“STFU: The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in an Endlessly Noisy World” by Dan Levine

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My daughter was panicking. He had an English class paper due in two days and had nothing to say about these poems. She was going to get a zero for the assignment, fail the class, drop her GPA, and not get into college.

She was sixteen, a junior in high school. I wanted to solve the problem for him. I wanted to tell him how to do the assignment. This is what I always did in the past. And guess what? It never worked. The more I tried to help, the more upset she became.

So, this time I tried something different: I sat there and STFU. I told myself to just listen to her and trust that she would figure it out on her own. It was excruciating. She was caught in a cycle of anxiety, and the more she talked, the worse it got. The overtalker in me was dying to get out of his cage. But I kept my resolve.

Finally, my daughter noticed I wasn’t talking and said, “What are you doing? Why are you sitting there?”

“I’m listening,” I said.

“You’re not listening. You’re looking at your phone.”

“I’m not,” I said, and pointed to my phone, which I’d placed on a table, out of reach.

“You’re ignoring me.”

“If I wanted to ignore you, I would have left the room.”

“Well, you’re not helping me, so I guess you don’t care,” he said.

“I know you feel bad,” I said.

“Yeah, no ***” he said.

She laughed. I did too.

Gradually she calmed down. The wheel of anxiety that had been growing began to slow down. And then she started talking about the real problem which was not the English paper. The real problem was that she was sixteen and puberty was rushing her way and that, like most kids her age, she feared she wasn’t ready for it. She was about to take the SATs and apply to colleges. She was afraid—not only that she might not get into college, but that once she got there, she might not be able to handle it.

Just beyond that horizon lies the great unknown of adulthood, and it’s a bit scary. You spend your entire childhood saying you can’t wait to grow up and go out on your own, but then you find yourself standing on the doorstep—and, suddenly, you’re not so sure, but too late. It’s done. Ready or not, you can’t go back. And no one is ready.

They weren’t things I could fix, but she didn’t want me to fix them. She just needed reassurance that it was okay to be afraid and that whatever life had in store for her, she could handle it, and most importantly, she wouldn’t have to face it alone.

Excerpt from “STFU: The Power of Shutting Up in an Endlessly Noisy World” by Dan Lyons. Copyright © 2023 by Dan Lyons. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt & Company. All rights reserved.

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“STFU: The Power of Shutting Up in an Endlessly Noisy World” by Dan Lyons (Hardcover)

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