What will you do if you are asked to sit in a room alone for 15 minutes with a switch, pressing which can give you an electric shock?
Do you know what percentage of time our mind just wanders aimlessly, a virtual vagabond during our waking hours?
The answer to the second question is more than 47% of the time, our mind is just wandering with no focus or attention not even aware of why it is doing so according to a Harvard study conducted in 2010.
Coming back to the first question now.
In a 2014 study of 1000’s of people, they were asked to sit in a room for 15 minutes, alone. There was nothing else in the room, no one to interact with, living or non-living.
After 15 minutes, they were asked how they felt.
The answer as usual were bored, unpleasant, confused etc.
The researchers now wanted to understand the intensity of boredom and decided to conduct another experiment.
The participants after their consent were given electric shock. The shock wasn’t as mild as a lot of participants even offered to pay to avoid such a shock in future.
They were then told to sit in a room alone. There was however, one more thing inside the room.
A switch, which they could press and get the same electric shock they said, they would pay to avoid.
However, they weren’t told specifically about it, just a passing remark that, there is a switch and if they press it, they will get an electrical shock.
The researcher left the room to let the participants spend their 15 minutes.
It was simple, don’t touch the switch and there won’t be any electric shock.
However, what happened after the experiment was very interesting.
25% of the women and a whooping 66% of the men (they were literally bored to death!!), gave themselves an electric shock something they so much hated earlier.
Some of the participants in fact decided to shock themselves multiple times with one person pushing it 190 times, almost once every 5 seconds (he must have been bored to death)
Why did they do that – Common answers were boredom and anxiety.
We are so used to getting our senses stimulated all the time, that its difficult to sit quietly even for a few seconds.
People in fact indulge in multi-tasking as 24 hours are not enough and a lot more has to be accomplished.
However, multiple research studies have proved how multi-tasking leads to lesser productivity and efficiency as what we perceive as multi-tasking is in fact ‘Task Switching’.
We move from one task to another quickly but it leads to lesser focus and concentration resulting in more mistakes coupled with more stress and anxiety.
So, What’s the solution?
One thing that has worked for people is meditation and mindfulness.
Even 2 minutes spent focusing on our breath or even a thing like a pen or a fruit can do wonders, pulling us back inwards and helping us in becoming more self-aware.
It doesn’t matter if you are traveling or sitting, one can focus on one’s breath anytime, and it really helps in bringing the focus back to what you are doing.
Mindful eating helps in managing weight while ensuring we don’t overeat.
Mindful conversation is about being fully present with the person we are talking to instead of thinking about new messages received or emails inundating our mailbox.
Reading and writing can be of great help too, especially if you like doing it.
Continuing on this topic, next would be some techniques to become mindful and self-aware.
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