A study suggests that people have a hard time being alone with their thoughts. What can you do about it?
Everybody spends time alone, but some of us find it more difficult than others. The potential benefits of solitude include reduced stress, enhanced creativity, and improved concentration. Yet a recent study suggests that many people prefer any stimuli, even negative ones, to being alone with their thoughts.
Christine Carter, PhD, a sociologist and happiness expert at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, isn’t surprised. “Our normal state of being is constant stimulation,” she says. “We live in a culture of busyness, where we’re constantly moving, constantly doing, constantly on the go. We equate being busy with meaningfulness, so when we’re alone, it can trigger a lot of fear and anxiety that our lives are lacking meaning.”