How would you feel if someone told you that you needed to sit silently in a chair and not use your phone for 30 minutes?

To just sit there and “think“?

I expect that like many people, you would probably think that you would be bored out of your mind.

Being bored has numerous benefits. It can give you time to allow your mind to wander, and make you more creative.

So perhaps being alone with our thoughts can be productive.

The problem is though that people hate being bored.

There have also been experiments that show people would rather electrocute themselves than have to spend time being bored.

After all, nowadays we have no need to be bored. With our smartphones constantly available, there is no moment when we aren’t a click or swipe away from news, distraction and entertainment. There is simply no reason why someone cannot distract themselves and prevent themselves being bored.

We have become so addicted to our phones that experiments have shown that simply having your phone in the same room as you can make you more stupid.

So how can we convince people that sitting alone with their thoughts might be a good thing?

Fortunately, new research has shown that when being forced to just be silent and think, people enjoy it much more than they expected they would.

In a series of experiments in Japan and the UK by Hatano et al, 259 participants were told that they would be sitting alone in a room or chamber without being able to use a phone, read, walk or do anything to distract themselves.

They were asked to predict how much they would enjoy (or hate) the activity, and after it was over they were asked to assess what it actually felt like.

The results showed that while the majority of participants thought they would not enjoy the time “just thinking”, after they had done it they mostly rated it as more enjoyable than they had predicted.

Thinking about thinking: People underestimate how enjoyable and engaging just waiting is.

Thinking about thinking: People underestimate how enjoyable and engaging just waiting is.

In simple terms:

Sitting alone with your thoughts is usually much more enjoyable and less boring than you think it will be

So if you want to be more creative, it is ok to just get lost in your thoughts for a while.

You might enjoy it more than you think.

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.