In a recent experiment, a group of students were asked to sit quietly and reflect for ten to twenty minutes. They were hooked up to a machine that administered mild electric shocks, and told that if they were bored they should press the button and give themselves a shock.
One guy did this 120 times over twenty minutes. Two thirds of the male students and one third of the females pressed the button at least once.
They found the experience of sitting quietly so unpleasant that they preferred to get a shock to break up the anguish of doing nothing but thinking. The study shows how easily we give in to any distraction however disturbing it might be. It stops us having to confront any of our thoughts or feelings.
This is probably why so many of us choose to do extremely challenging things, just to keep our minds occupied. Hundreds of books tell us how to have a more peaceful and undisturbed life, but in truth, very few people want to have one.