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“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.

 

[FULL ARTICLE]

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A brilliant speech by David Foster Wallace. He discusses empathy as a way of life, to get out of being stuck in your own head. To being aware of the beauty of the human experience and connect with others.

Our reality is based on how we interpret and give meaning to things. But this is a choice that we can make – we can choose our own reality.

I highly recommend reading the full transcript rather than just watching the video.

TRANSCRIPT – Thanks to “Intelligent Life”


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An interesting article in the Economist which discusses a positive link between virtue and health.

THE Greek founders of philosophy constantly debated how best to live the good life. Some contended that personal pleasure is the key. Others pointed out that serving society and finding purpose is vital. Socrates was in the latter camp, fiercely arguing that an unvirtuous person could not be happy, and that a virtuous person could not fail to be happy. These days, psychologists tend to regard that point as moot, since self-serving “hedonic” pleasures generate the same sorts of good feelings as those generated by serving some greater “eudaimonic” purpose. However, a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her colleagues suggests Socrates had a point. Though both hedonic and eudaimonic behaviour bring pleasure, the eudaimonic sort also brings health.

Psychosomatic medicine: The right kind of happy | The Economist.

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