2nd January 2015

Home alone – the shocking reality of how uncomfortable we are with our own thoughts

I wonder if like me, you observed over the festive season that many people were glued to their phones, i-pads and the such like. It may be the seductive nature of the latest technology that leads us into a state of perpetual gadget use or it may be the reverse; that the human mind is more comfortable being busy and being constantly engaged by outside stimuli than being left to its own thoughts.

In a 2014 US study (Just Think: The Challenges of the Disengaged Mind) college students were asked to sit in a room for between 6-15 minutes with nothing to do but to be with their own thoughts. Most found it an uncomfortable experience and when given the option, many chose to give themselves a mild electric shock rather than just be.

The authors suggested in conclusion to their study that ‘people prefer doing to thinking’ and that ‘the untutored mind does not like to be alone with itself’. Maybe we would all benefit from exploring ways of being a bit more comfortable with our own thoughts – a New Year’s resolution to take a break from our ‘doing’ and instead spending more time ‘being’ with ourselves and our thoughts. It is certainly my intention for 2015.

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