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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Under-Appreciating the Benefits of Solitude

Person sitting alone on bench at end of dock in lake during sunset


Getting lost in our thoughts may improve problem solving, increase creativity, enhance imagination and provide a better sense of self-worth. But in the digital age, with immediate and satisfying input at a finger’s tap, it is possible to be “solitude deprived,” says Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University and author of Digital Minimalism

In a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, psychologists asked a group of more than 250 university students to sit and wait in a quiet room without doing anything. Researchers found that the students under-appreciated their enjoyment and engagement of “just thinking” and instead favored technology-driven distractions like internet news-checking. The results suggest an inherent difficulty in accurately assessing how engaging just thinking can be, and may explain why people prefer keeping themselves busy rather than taking a moment for reflection and imagination in their daily lives.

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