Busy lives? It hardly needs saying…
Most of us live very busy and active lives – there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to fit in everything we need to do. So the idea of sitting for say, 15 minutes just doing nothing seems completely foreign to us.
So here’s the challenge
Could you simply sit quietly for 15 minutes without your smartphone or any other gadget, person or distraction in the room with you?
Well, that’s precisely what some researchers asked people to do in a study a short while ago. For years, it has been known that inward-directed thought is a helpful activity, giving opportunity to reflect and process all that happens to us in life.
But the question is, are we willing to disengage from the world around and give ourselves time and space to sit and ponder?
So the researchers asked students to spend up to 15 minutes alone in a room with no electronic devices; no papers and pens; in fact nothing but themselves. Afterwards they were asked how easy it was to concentrate (60% said it was difficult) and whether their minds wondered (89% said yes).
Did they enjoy the experience? Half the participants said no.
Even when they were allowed to do the activity at home, a third of them said they had cheated and started doing something to keep themselves occupied. And they disliked the alone-time just as much as before. The results were similar with people other than students.
Here comes the twist in the tale
The test was repeated, but this time they were allowed to give themselves a mild electric shock, just to relieve the boredom (asked in advance how much they might normally be willing to pay not to have such a shock, they replied, around $5!).
So into the room they went again. The results were pretty shocking (pun intended!).
⅔ men and ¼ women gave themselves at least one shock (remember, a shock they would normally pay money to avoid!) and one man gave himself 190 shocks!
To quote the researchers, “What is striking is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock that they had earlier said they would pay to avoid.”
Are you busy too?
If you think that’s all a little overblown, why not try it for yourself?
Remember, no gadgets, no people, no distractions – just you and your thoughts! And let me know how you get on.