EPISODE 280 We are busy! We have work, projects, errands and something to fill every minute of the day. Productivity has more than quadrupled since 1950, we even walk faster than we did 10 years ago according a recent study! The urgency to make every moment count is affecting every aspect of our lives. The one aspect of life that never gets discussed is why wasting time may be good for you. Let’s talk about why you SHOULD be wasting time.
CONTENT WE LEARN IN THIS EPISODE
Psychologists at the University of Virginia and Harvard recruited 146 subjects and required them to sit in a chair, alone, in a quiet room for twelve minutes. All external devices, including smartphones and watches, were confiscated. However, one type of external stimulation was allowed. A button located next to their chair, when pushed, would administer an electric shock to the participant. Before the experiment began, the participants were asked to press the button “just for practice.” All of the participants reported that the shock was unpleasant, something they would avoid if at all possible. Then the experiment began.
One at a time, the subjects were asked to sit “for ten or twenty minutes” (exactly how long they did not know, since their devices had been taken from them), with two rules: One, they couldn’t fall asleep, and second, they couldn’t get out of the chair. But…..if they wanted to press the button and get shocked, that was okay. The researchers found that sixty-seven percent of the men and twenty-five percent of the women chose to shock themselves during the twelve minutes of the experiment rather than sit quietly with their thoughts.**
What are we afraid of when we stop for a moment and just waste time?
I have been obsessed with studying the writings of famous philosophers. Recently, I came upon a small booklet called Walking by Henry David Thoreau. Many of his great ideas came as he was walking. Early philosophers would walk 2-4 hours per day, just to have time to think. Most of us can’t even spend 5 minutes in silence.
In what psychologists call the “Terror of Aloneness” we are afraid of what questions may come to our minds when we are alone with our thoughts.
“Am I really who I want to be right now?”
“What does the future hold for me?”
“What am I doing here on this earth?”
“Does my life have a purpose?”
“What things should I be doing that I’m not doing?”
Sometimes we fear these answers, almost as though we’ve lost something of our inner selves. The best place to take a break is in nature. Embrace solitude. Our brains need to relax and release stress so you can discover who you are and what you should be doing.
Creativity has decreased in Americans since the 1990s, most severely in Kindergarten-3rd grade. Children have become less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative, less verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively, less passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, less likely to see things from a different angle. We’re losing the time and ability to be creative!
In the last 2 weeks, how much time have you spent in a high-quality activity that you’re able to rest your brain and have some fun? Get outside, enjoy and see what the world has to offer. You’ll be amazed at what this does for your brain, happiness and stress level.
**Story found in “In Praise of Wasting Time” by Alan Lightman
QUOTES BY CHRIS
“We are addicted to constant, external stimulation.”
“Go outside, have some fun, laugh!”
This week take 30 minutes and waste some time! No tv, phone, tablet or computer.