Science & Technology

Why aren’t people just good at thinking for fun?

If you find it difficult to get lost in your thoughts and fantasies these days, you are not alone.

“This is part of an undeveloped cognitive toolkit and it’s a bit sad,” says Erin Westgate, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida.

The ability to think for joy is important and you can make it better, says Westgate. The first step, which may seem easy, is to recognize that fantasy is surprisingly demanding.

“You have to be an actor, a director, a screenwriter, and an audience for mental performances,” she says. “It looks like you’re not doing anything, but it’s cognitively burdensome.”

Another obstacle revealed by Westgate’s research is that they don’t intuitively understand how to think of fun ideas.

“We are pretty ignorant,” she says. “We, positive experience. “

Fancy benefits

Westgate wants to help people regain their fantasy. This may increase your health and tolerance to pain.In a study published today in the journal Emotions, Westgate and colleagues Timothy Wilson, Nicholas Buttrick, Rémy Furler of the University of Virginia, and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University instructed participants to think of meaningful ideas.

Westgate expected this to lead thinkers to a rewarding experience, but in reality they found it less enjoyable than their unguided thoughts.

“I was very confused,” she says. Then she looked at the topics she reported that the participants were thinking. “It was heavy. I didn’t think I could spend my time enjoying my thoughts.”

If you try to think of fun rather than meaning, you tend to default to superficial pleasures such as eating ice cream. This is not only fun, but it does not stir up the same itching as a meaningful idea. But when Westgate provided participants with a list of fun and meaningful examples, they enjoyed thinking 50% more than when they were instructed to think about what they wanted.

She says it’s knowledge that you can use in your daily life by encouraging yourself to fantasize about topics such as fun memories, future achievements, and events you’re looking forward to.

Fantasy can be an antidote to boredom, and Westgate studies show that it can induce people to show bullying, trolls, and sadistic behavior. In one experiment, participants chose to kill insects with a coffee grinder to reduce their boredom. (The bug didn’t really hurt, but participants didn’t know it.) In another study, 67% of men and 25% of women preferred to give themselves an electric shock. .. Just their thoughts..

Sure, our devices offer an endless stream of distractions, but in certain situations electronic entertainment isn’t available or secure. (“If the signal is off, think of a nice picnic you once had, rather than reaching for your cell phone,” says Westgate.)

How to be good at thinking for joy

Apart from its boring fighting abilities, thinking for joy can be its own reward. “It makes us stand out. It defines our humanity. It allows us to imagine new realities,” says Westgate. “But that kind of thinking requires practice.”

Here’s how to master this:

  • Believe that it is possible to have a good experience if you prepare your brain on topics that you find fun. “This is what we all can do once the concept is in place. We give these instructions to children aged 4 and 5, and it makes sense for them.”
  • That said, “This is difficult for everyone. There is no good evidence that some types of people are simply better thinkers. I am the worst person in the world with this. I definitely want to get an electric shock. That’s what Westgate says. “But knowing why it’s difficult and what makes it easy really makes a difference. The encouragement is that we can all get better.”
  • Don’t confuse planning things with thinking about joy. “People say they enjoy the plan, but when we test it, they don’t.”
  • Choose the right time to try. Studies show that we are most likely to daydream when something else, such as taking a shower or brushing our teeth, occupies little of our head. “The next time you walk, try it instead of pulling it out,” says Westgate.

The ability to indulge in fantasy provides a source of free and enjoyable thoughts during the next period. Stressful times, Says Westgate.

“What we feel is a function of what we think. Thinking about joy can be a powerful tool for shaping our emotions.”

Source: University of Florida

Why aren’t people just good at thinking for fun? Why aren’t people just good at thinking for fun?

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