WHY DON’T WE TAKE THE TIME TO THINK?
It is one of the chronic complaints of our era. “I have no time to think!” Supposedly, we are too busy, but that does not seem to be true. The truth seems to be that we are too busy keeping busy. Why? Consider this excerpt from No Time to Think (nytimes.com).
“We had noted how wedded to our devices we all seem to be and that people seem to find any excuse they can to keep busy,” said Timothy Wilson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and lead author of the study. “No one had done a simple study letting people go off on their own and think.”
The results surprised him and have created a stir in the psychology and neuroscience communities. In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes. (from here (nytimes.com))
Kind of amazing! All it takes to upset most of us is to leave us alone with a few moments to think. Yet we still complain, “I have no time to think!”
On the other hand, not taking time to think is bad for business. Consider how What to Do When You Have No Time to Think (hbr.org) starts.
On a recent hectic business trip to Florence, I lucked out; my client booked me into the Four Seasons. The hotel consists of two restored Renaissance palaces, separated by 11 acres of garden. I was thrilled.
That is, until I arrived and saw that my room was in the more distant building. Every time I entered the hotel, I had to walk the length of the garden to my room.
My days were jam-packed with consulting, and I still had all my other work to take care of. That long, forced walk was going to steal valuable time in my day, time I could scarcely afford.
At first I entered the garden annoyed and walked through with speed and determination. But, to my surprise, each time I walked through the garden, I walked a little more slowly. Eventually, that garden walk became a transformative experience. As I meandered along the winding paths, my mind began to wander too, making connections, drawing insights, and developing ideas. (continued here (hbr.org))
What does it mean to be left with our own thoughts? The word for it is introspection. It seems that when we have time to think we think about our favorite subject. For most of us, our favorite subject is “me”. Unfortunately, when we think about “me”, we each subject “me” to an evaluation, and “me” is never quite what we want “me” to be. Therefore, whenever we are left alone with our thoughts we worry and grow anxious.
It is difficult to underestimate the problem of anxiety, especially when we have unresolved guilt. No Time to Think (holocaustcenterseattle.org) provides a reading that comes from the resource Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior (facinghistory.org). Imagine living in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. Did the Germans want to contemplate the fate of the Jews among them? Might they have preferred being too busy to think during the Holocaust?
What have we each done or not done that makes preferable being too busy to think? Who among us is without sin? If you are too busy to think — especially if your conscience aches — consider No Time to Think (holocaustcenterseattle.org).
So, what if we stop busying our ourselves finding busywork? What if we allow ourselves time to think? What exactly is the alternative? Well, that is a complicated subject that will require additional posts.
- NO TIME TO THINK — PART 2: Prayer Is Not Introspection: It Is Better
- NO TIME TO THINK — PART 3: The Choice: Busywork Or Peace And Contentment?