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power of differencesHubby returned from running errands and excitedly told me about the new screens that had been installed on the gas pumps—screens that played music and TV shows.

“What a great concept,” he gushed. “Now I don’t have to just stand there anymore.”

Had hubby participated in the University of Virginia time alone study, I know he would have been in the 58% of participants who said being alone with their thoughts was difficult.

I am doubtful that he would have been in the two-thirds of male participants who self-administered an average of seven electrical shocks instead of sitting quietly!

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. ~Timothy Wilson

People jumped on the study results, anxious to explore the why behind the findings. The implication was that something was wrong with wanting to be entertained – that there were mental control issues.

Does it really matter?


Some people like to be alone with their thoughts, others don’t. These preferences aren’t right or wrong, just different.

The beauty of what most of us have in common is our differences. Red states, blue states. Baseball, football. Reading a book the old-fashioned way, viewing it on a Kindle. Ice cream for dessert, no dessert. The deity we worship. Half full, half empty.

Wouldn’t it be more fun and productive to respect and celebrate differences instead of positioning them as divisive and wrong?

In the end we are all separate. Our stories, no matter how similar, come to a fork and diverge. We are drawn to each other because of our similarities, but it is our differences we must learn to respect. ~ Goethe

Sameness can be easier – no conflicts to manage or middle ground to be carved out. But, there’s little opportunity for exploration and growth when there’s sameness everywhere.

I’ve learned the most from people whose view was 180 degrees from mine and who gracefully played angel’s advocate with my thought processes.

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentiality, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place. ~ Margaret Mead

I love being alone with my thoughts and think the gas pump TV screen is intrusive. But that’s just my opinion, my preference. It doesn’t make me right or those who like the gas pump TV screen wrong. Just different, that’s all.

I also love being with hubby and other friends who don’t like reflection time. They’re the vanilla to my chocolate; the outward activity to my internal musings.

I’m richer for the diversity and love it that way.

What say you?

Image credit before quote added:  morgueFile