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In Defense of Daydreaming

Andrew McDiarmid encourages people to set aside their devices and embrace the discomfort of silence

At the end of the day, do you ever feel like you’ve ingested so much information but have thought and contemplated so little? When do we take the time to simply be quiet and think? Discovery Institute’s Andrew McDiarmid encourages people to set aside their devices and embrace the discomfort of silence in a piece from The Epoch Times. He writes,

recent study reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that the act of “just thinking” can be more rewarding than we might realize. The authors of the paper acknowledge that the ability to engage in internal thoughts without external stimulation is a unique characteristic in humans, yet we regularly underappreciate the benefits of doing so. This constant feed of external stimulation fills the space where our own thoughts once lingered—we don’t even remember what we’re missing.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted a series of experiments with more than 250 college students in both Japan and the United Kingdom. Participants were asked to sit in a quiet room without doing anything for 20 minutes. The authors consistently found that people experienced more enjoyment, engagement, and motivation than they had predicted they would beforehand.

-Andrew McDiarmid, Hang up Your Phone and Just Think (theepochtimes.com)

For most of us, sitting alone for twenty minutes without checking our phones is uncomfortable at best and terrifying at worst. We have lost the ability to enjoy life and our own thoughts without the external stimulation of a screen. We’re missing out on the life of the mind. McDiarmid continues,

“Mind wandering,” or the “stream of consciousness,” gives us several mental gains, including the ability to consider obstacles to future goals, generate novel, creative thoughts, and place our experiences in meaningful context—which can foster well-being and enhance our overall health.

He then challenges us to try it out for ourselves. Instead of checking one’s phone in line at the grocery store, what would happen if we just stood there for five minutes? Going for walks through nature, entering times of prolonged silence, and shutting the phone off a couple hours before bed are all ways we can enjoy the benefits of “just thinking.” Be sure to read the full article here.

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In Defense of Daydreaming