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When did you last sit by yourself and daydream?

Do you have ten minutes?

If yes, then try this: switch off your phone, TV, put away books, music, games, in short any sort of distraction at all. Just be alone with your thoughts– don’t meditate or write or play with any object around you.

How do you find the experience? This is what I read in an article today:

“Most people are just not comfortable in their own heads, according to
a new psychological investigation led by the University of Virginia.
The investigation found that most would rather be doing something –
possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone
with their thoughts, said the researchers, whose findings will be
published July 4 in the journal Science.

In a series of 11 studies, U.Va. psychologist
Timothy Wilson and colleagues at U.Va. and Harvard University found
that study participants from a range of ages generally did not enjoy
spending even brief periods of time alone in a room with nothing to do
but think, ponder or daydream. The participants, by and large, enjoyed
much more doing external activities such as listening to music or using a
smartphone. Some even preferred to give themselves mild electric shocks
than to think.

The period of time that Wilson and his colleagues asked participants
to be alone with their thoughts ranged from six to 15 minutes. Many of
the first studies involved college student participants, most of whom
reported that this “thinking period” wasn’t very enjoyable and that it
was hard to concentrate. So Wilson conducted another study with
participants from a broad selection of backgrounds, ranging in age from
18 to 77, and found essentially the same results.”

I was relatively ok during this experiment I did by myself.  But I didn’t enjoy it, say, as much as writing, or reading. In case you’re interested, more on the research here.

Do you ever sit and daydream? Would you like to conduct this experiment for yourself? Do you think the modern lifestyle has taken us away from our own selves?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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11 Comments

  • sweetyshinde says:

    I dwell at the opposite end of the spectrum. I day-dream all the time. Sometimes, even when I am sincerely working, my sub-conscious is on its own flight. I must be abnormal, haha.

  • Interesting! I can sit in my own head all day. My daughter is the same way. Both of us are known to disappear into our own my minds and "space out," and my husband has gotten used to me thinking deeply.

  • cleemckenzie says:

    I try to sit alone and stare into space once a day. I hope that's daydreaming. It feels like it. I know I'm more peaceful when I to that staring thing. Maybe more productive? As to modern life taking us away from that quiet reflective time. Yes. Sadly, I now have to make myself stop and daydream. It used to just happen.

  • Hey, that's how I came to be a writer, by daydreaming when I was bored, not because I liked to write. I can do it for hours, whether it's staying in bed a little longer or entertaining myself while I'm doing the dishes. I have my own personal tv in my head and I'm never bored.

    How can you even create stories without daydreaming? If you make it up, or think it up, it will feel exactly like that, made up. Fake.

  • shelly says:

    I

  • I need to try it out and cut off from every damn troubling thing. Thanks and we all need the ME time:)

  • Daydreaming is something I do on a daily basis, even when writing. It eases the tension briefly, and can be amusing in its own way. I don't daydream too long as it can become boring, and I prefer to read or write.

  • I do this every week. Not a problem and so sad so many can't be comfortable by themselves.

  • I can daydream even if I have stuff going on around me. But I imagine most people don't.

  • Nima Das says:

    Hey i think i can sit doing nothing for hours, I love day dreaming and doing nothing,maybe i am exception then! 😛

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