HAPPINESS BY THOUGHT

 HAPPINESS BY THOUGHT

Did you know that a study recently revealed that people prefer to give themselves electric jolts to sitting by themselves and thinking? Introspection. That ancient, dying art of lying in our beds and staring at the wall. The art of doing nothing for a long period of time – well, just because. Are we losing it?
Evidence of modern studies definitely suggests that we are. We’ve built a culture of excess, in which more is always better. So when we do nothing, or if we sit by ourselves staring at blank walls, we think that we’re wasting our time.
But sitting down and watching a white wall could do wonders to your creativity. You think, you reason, you make connections, associations, you build arguments, you demolish them. Out of all that, something concrete comes out – even if it’s just a revelation that you didn’t have before you sat down.
Artists, writers and other creative professionals know this only too well. With some experience they learn to enjoy solitude, those long periods of inactivity during which nothing seems to happen, bur nevertheless, they force themselves to do so. Being a writer, the most important piece of advice my mentors have given me is to visit the writing desk and the blank wall every day. Even when it seems like you’re wasting your time, your brain is working in idle mode. It’s still absorbing, working things out, and sooner or later, something worthwhile will come out.
And the happiness that comes from creating, from looking inward, from learning something about yourself, is unmatched. Which is why I think almost all philosophers proclaim that conscious thinking and solitude is one of the primary ingredients of happiness. At the end of the day, what we crave for most is company – not just of friends and lovers but that of our own.
In an increasingly extroverted world, though, in which being alone is derided, this can be hard to achieve. You’re not fun unless you go out every Saturday night. You’re not fun if you turn off your Facebook for a while to gain some quiet. You’re not fun if you sit by yourself and write a journal entry. You’re not fund if you lock yourself up and work on a painting. Unless, of course, they make money.
But money is only the side-effect of solitude, and a minor one. The biggest gain of spending time with yourself is the clarity of thought you achieve, the tiny insight that you gain of your own character, and of course, the pure pleasure of creating something, whether it is good or bad.
So go ahead. For at least a few minutes each day, lie down on your bed and stare at a blank white wall. You will be amazed by the things it will tell you.

Damien Peters

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