Hello Rumination. Hello Insomnia.


From Kate Murphy, NY Times, No Time to Think:

ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore. When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter.

And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device.

Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think. These same people, by the way, had previously said they would pay money to avoid receiving the painful jolt.

It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in the contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.

It could be because human beings, when left alone, tend to dwell on what’s wrong in their lives. We have evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers. What preys on our minds, when we aren’t updating our Facebook page or in spinning class, are the things we haven’t figured out — difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads. Hello rumination. Hello insomnia.

Read full article by Kate Murphy in NY Times: No Time To Think

Image Source: Sh*t In My Head


  1. Wow, talk of being timely! I just posted on my blog this thing about being busy and no time to think. And then this… hahaha What do you think is the best remedy?


    • Great question Meikah. I’m not sure I am the poster child for advice on this topic. My approach is to take on less, focus deeply on few, make time for exercise. Seems like Mr. Snyder had it right here:

      Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking brings us close to the actual existing world and its wholeness.

      — Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild


  2. I can’t even begin to quantify the loss we face in denying ourselves time with ourselves. Learning to work through the unpleasant stuff is a lifelong challenge – maybe we get marginally better if we do it consciously, instead of pushing it away. Hello avoidance, hello a whole lot of problems – including insomnia. One caveat – this is NOT staring at your navel time – it’s truly thinking things through time. Great article.


  3. I think a lot–and it is so true you have to train your thoughts–I would have some of mine eradicated if I could–but for the other part–I love living in my head when my head cooperates


  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I can relate to this so well. It’s very well described …. and I’m retired! However, I’ve always had a hard time getting to sleep …. my mind goes on and on and on …..


  5. LaFemLz says:



  6. “The more in touch with my own feelings and experiences, the richer and more accurate are my guesses of what passes through another person’s mind,” said Giancarlo Dimaggio.
    Crucial point! I loved this article. It clearly put into words what I think about all the time.:)


  7. most people our out of touch with their own bodies and the earth in general. Life was not meant to be about who won the race, or who earns the most, life was meant to be lived as a learning, in harmony with all that is. Unless we humans allow ourselves to breathe again – we will remain forever, chasing our tails. eve 🙂


  8. it is an ongoing struggle and reality for most of us at some level. i do think the key is keeping it simple and to spend time thinking and reflecting, (in a nonjudgmental way), seeking out beauty (in nature, in the arts, with words, or creating it ), laughing/smiling, reaching out to others, giving, and with some sort of physical outlet. not striving for perfection, just for good health and a connection between mind, body and spirit. then the sleep will come. now i will be up all night pondering how to do this )


  9. I chuckled when I read”out come the mobile devices” as I’m sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting to be called. I notice when some people ask me how I am and I reply”fine”, they ask me if I’m busy!


  10. I’ve felt for a long time…the reason people can’t sleep anymore is because their brains never shut off. All day long we’re being overstimulated by this technological world we live in…and when we do finally try to sleep, our brains are still on “go.” There should be more time for quiet reflection, especially at the end of the day. It’s more than likely only going to get worse though. 😦 People have become slaves to technology…riding the rollercoaster…to where?


  11. Can’t remember if i sent this already – busy day (ha!). Check out Chade-Meng Tan’s book Search Inside Yourself. It is a book on mindfulness and it is an outline of the mindfulness training they do at google (referenced in article). It’s a quick practical guide to meditation – I highly recommend it.


  12. Great and timely article. I used to believe it was someone or something else that made me crazy busy, but I’ve finally learned it’s me, myself and I, who’s guilty. It’s so “safe” on many levels to feel busy. Sacking that beast requires conscious effort…still working on it.


  13. It’s a great post. I’m happy my life is not like that anymore. I have to much time to think. Have a great day.



  1. […] David Kanigan (one of my Daily Must Reads) considered this question recently … apparently while not being able to sleep – read about it here:  “Hello, Rumination, Hello Insomnia” […]


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