“Who do you allow to live in your head?”
We seem not to notice how much the people in our lives constantly change. We tend to behave as though things will be this way forever. But things will change. We each have only so much attention to divide between our relationships. People will move away, colleagues will change jobs, children will grow up, friends will have families or come across people they connect better with. And because of this, the level of attention and importance we give each other will change as well.
Think in your life who was the most important to you 1 year ago? 2 years? 5 years? etc. Who were the top 5 people you gave the most attention to? How have they changed? Why have they changed?
Even our closest friends and family relationships change in strength and importance. Some to the point of extinguishment. Others unshakably close.
I guess the point is that this is a part of life we have to accept. We need to enjoy every moment to the fullest with the people who are currently important to us. Things will probably change soon but at least we made the most of it.
“We had noted how wedded to our devices we all seem to be and that people seem to find any excuse they can to keep busy,” said Timothy Wilson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and lead author of the study. “No one had done a simple study letting people go off on their own and think.”
The results surprised him and have created a stir in the psychology and neuroscience communities. In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes.
Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think. These same people, by the way, had previously said they would pay money to avoid receiving the painful jolt.
It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in the contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.
It could be because human beings, when left alone, tend to dwell on what’s wrong in their lives. We have evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers. What preys on our minds, when we aren’t updating our Facebook page or in spinning class, are the things we haven’t figured out — difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads. Hello rumination. Hello insomnia.