People would rather administer a shock to themselves than spend time alone with their thoughts.
Those are the findings of a study by Timothy Wilson, University of Virginia, professor of psychology.
The people were given a set number of minutes, between 6 and 15, and some were told to free-think and others prepared ahead of time and picked something they wanted to think about.
The results? People reported being bored and did not like the experience of sitting in their thoughts.
Then they let the participants do the activity in their own homes and the results were the same, except more people reported cheating.
So they took the study further and introduced a shocking element.
Yep, a homemade device that they could use to shock themselves if they wanted.
The participants sat in a room for 15 minutes with the device. They could sit there and think, daydream, fantasize, solve a problem, or they could shock themselves.
67% of the men and 25% of the women shocked themselves. Some, several times.
People chose to inflict pain on themselves, rather than sit alone with their thoughts.
I don’t know that we can make too much out of this small study. Does it say people are less contemplative than in the past or that people are unimaginative? It does show that people do not like to be bored.
We want our thoughts directed so we:
Pick up a cell phone.
We check our email or social media.
We choose to do a task.
We play a game (usually computer generated).
Those who did not shock themselves reported being generally happier in their thoughts.
Positive thinking has a role to play in fighting boredom and we are all about positive thinking at Live On Purpose. When we have a purpose, a meaning to our lives, then our thoughts are generally happier. We are more content and capable of being in our minds for longer amounts of time.
For some ideas on how you can begin to have more positive thoughts today click on the video below.