Are you feeling bored right now? How come? There are so many distractions around you?
Think again. Don’t you want to check your precious phone, watch Netflix/TV, listen to music, chit-chat with someone, etc.? No?
Great! I’m glad that you want to feel bored and remain in this state for sometime. It’s good for you as boredom is an amazing blessing in disguise.
How come? We’ll look into it shortly.
Before that, I would like to talk about this important question.
Based on what I have researched and learnt so far, I am stating following reasons:
Our brains have a natural tendency to seek out new experiences and environments. This tendency may have developed as a way for our ancestors to survive.
And this survival mechanism may have helped our ancestors to avoid danger, find resources and food. They may have used it to socialize and bond with others, and overcome physical and mental challenges.
As we engage in new experiences and acquire new skills, our brains are stimulated and we are able to adapt to new environments.
This can lead us to seek out activities that offer a sense of excitement or reward, and our brains start loving these activities as there are positive outcomes.
Therefore, it is not surprising that we often find boredom to be uncomfortable and seek to avoid it. Because when we are bored, we don’t see any measurable reward or benefits in it.
So evolution has done its part and now our brains are wired to constantly seek out new forms of stimulation. Because it may help us to learn, grow, and adapt to new situations. Our evolutionary instincts just disregard boredom.
Our culture and society highly prioritise productivity, efficiency, and constant stimulation.
Our societies praise people who are productive and efficient.
As a result, if we are not able to perform tasks effectively or fail to actively engage with our surroundings, we may experience feelings of guilt or laziness. Our societies may judge us or people around us may judge us.
This can make us feel as though we are missing out on something when we are not continuously connected or stimulated.
We all can relate to it as we have faced such situations ourselves and have seen many examples around us. Like:
What’s the current news on a PM or a political party or a media personality? FOMO attacks on us.
What has my favourite actor or actress posted on social media? We are quite eager and can’t miss their updates. FOMO attacks on us.
What’s that “Ding” or alert or notification that has just arrived on our phone? It could be something important, something urgent, from our friends, from our families. And we must check them. FOMO attacks on us.
Most of us don’t want to miss out on experiences, events, current news, or opportunities. This fear can be a powerful motivator for seeking out stimulation and avoiding feeling bored.
Boredom can be a challenging experience because it often feels like we have no control over our situation.
We may feel like we’re stuck in a particular place or situation. We may feel like we are not enjoying a particular activity anymore. We start to feel a perceived lack of meaning or purpose in a task or activity.
We start to think that we are unable to escape them, which can lead to feelings of frustration and restlessness.
When we are bored, we often feel like we are not fully involved with environments around us or activities that we do.
Feeling bored can be associated with negative emotions such as loneliness, anxiety and depression. Because of these emotions, we feel irritated, frustrated or discontent.
As a result, we may avoid boredom in order to avoid these uncomfortable feelings.
We are creatures of habit. We all find comfort in certain familiar routines and activities. We become accustomed to a particular way of living.
We may structure our days with work, errands, and household chores, leaving little time for relaxation or free time.
We may feel uncomfortable, we may feel anxious, when we’re not engaged in familiar activities or tasks. So we may seek out stimulation to avoid these negative feelings.
I understand that many of you can relate to one or many reasons stated above to avoid boredom.
Now, let’s talk about some benefits of being bored.
During periods of boredom, our brains shift into a state of rest called the default mode network (DMN). The DMN is a network of brain regions. It becomes active when we are not focused on the outside world, such as when we are daydreaming or letting our minds wander.
This state of rest allows the brain to recover from the mental fatigue that comes with constant stimulation, giving it a chance to repair and rejuvenate itself.
After all, as a body demands rest, a brain too deserves it. Right?
Research has shown that allowing the brain to rest and recharge in this way can have several benefits. For example:
When we experience boredom, our brains are not being stimulated by external factors such as work, entertainment, or social interactions. This lack of external stimulation can initially feel uncomfortable or unpleasant, but it also creates an opportunity for our brains to rest and recharge.
The brain starts making new connections and associations between ideas. As a result, we may be more likely to engage in imaginative thinking, problem-solving, daydreaming, and other forms of creative expression.
The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.— Albert Einstein
When we are bored, our minds are free to wander and engage in a state that we call “daydreaming” or “mind-wandering”. In this state, the brain is able to make new connections and associations between ideas and memories. This helps in better retention of information and improved long-term memory.
On the contrary, when our brains are overstimulated, it can become difficult for us to focus on and retain information.
Therefore, allowing for periods of boredom and mind-wandering can be beneficial for memory retention and cognitive function. We may be more likely to focus our attention on a particular task or idea, which can help us retain information more effectively. Boredom allows our brains to consolidate new information learned throughout the day.
Studies have found that people who are bored are better able to recall specific details from a story or event than those who are not bored.
In addition, when we are bored, we may be more likely to seek out new experiences and information, which can also improve memory and learning.
Boredom has the potential to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
When we engage in stimulating activities, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. We love this reward and keep stimulating us until we are tired or sleeping.
However, too much stimulation can lead to stress and anxiety, as our brains become overwhelmed with information and activity.
On the other hand, when we experience boredom, our brains are not being bombarded with excessive stimuli. This allows our minds to slow down and relax, which can have a calming effect on our overall mood and stress levels. Boredom also provides an opportunity to disengage from daily stressors and worries, allowing us to focus on the present moment and reduce anxiety.
Moreover, when we feel bored, we may be more likely to engage in mindfulness practices, such as meditation, which have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
In addition, when we are bored, we may be more likely to engage in physical activity, such as going for a walk, which can also reduce stress and anxiety levels.
When we feel Boredom, it gives us the space and time to reflect on our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. This is known as introspection, and it can lead to greater self-awareness.
And when we have a greater sense of self-awareness, we have a better understanding of who we are and what we want out of life. Introspection helps us identify our values and priorities and make more intentional choices.
For example, if we find ourselves constantly bored at work, it may be a sign that we need to find a more fulfilling career or pursue a passion outside of work.
Or, if we’re constantly turning to social media or other distractions when we’re bored, we may realise that we need to set boundaries and prioritise more meaningful activities.
Therefore, by cultivating self-awareness through boredom, we can live more authentic and fulfilling lives. It can help us make better choices, improve our relationships, and better manage our time and energy.
Have you ever noticed how some of your best ideas or solutions come to you when you’re doing something mundane like taking a shower, cleaning your house or commuting to your work? That’s because when your brain is bored and not overstimulated, it gets a chance to wander and come up with creative solutions to problems.
Boredom can also encourage us to seek out new challenges and experiences, which can help us develop our problem-solving abilities further.
When we’re confronted with new situations or obstacles, we’re forced to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions.
Additionally, the act of overcoming boredom itself can be a problem-solving exercise. When we’re bored, we’re often motivated to find ways to entertain ourselves or engage with the world around us. This can involve creative problem-solving, such as coming up with new activities or finding ways to make mundane tasks more interesting.
Boredom can be a powerful motivator. It inspires us to seek out new experiences, to take on new challenges. It tells us that we need to switch things up and find something new to do.
This is where increased motivation can come in.
By seeking out new and stimulating activities, we can feel a renewed sense of motivation and energy. Boredom can be a powerful driver for change and growth, pushing us to explore new interests and pursue new goals.
By taking the time to reflect on our goals and priorities, we can tap into a deeper sense of motivation and purpose. In this way, boredom can be a valuable tool for personal growth and development, helping us to find direction and meaning in our lives.
Boredom is a great motivator.— Uma Thurman
When we are feeling bored, we are more present in the moment and fully engaged in our experiences. As a result, it leads us to greater mindfulness, or awareness of the present moment.
By being more aware of our thoughts and feelings, we may be better able to regulate our emotions and reactions to different situations.
When we’re mindful, we’re more attuned to the world around us. We become more aware of our own thoughts and emotions. This can help us be more present in our interactions with others, as well as in our daily activities. It can also help us be more aware of our own needs and desires, and make more intentional choices about how we spend our time.
By taking the time to be more mindful, we can cultivate a greater sense of inner peace, balance, and happiness in our lives.
In boredom, we may be more likely to tune in to the needs of others, how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. It leads to increased empathy and understanding.
When we are bored, we may become more aware of our surroundings and the people around us. This increased awareness can help us pick up on subtle cues in others’ body language and behaviour. We start to feel what the other person wants to say. We start to better understand their emotions and needs.
This increased empathy can lead to stronger connections and relationships with others. It can also help us develop a more compassionate and understanding perspective towards people who are different from us, which can be beneficial in both personal and professional settings.
In the state of boredom, we give ourselves more space and time to reflect on our lives, goals and values. We identify them better and analyse them better. When we do so, we feel a greater sense of purpose and direction in life.
By taking time to pause and reflect, we start to explore new hobbies and interests, which can give us a sense of purpose and meaning. For example, if we’re feeling unfulfilled in our current job or daily routine, trying out a new hobby or volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
When we have a sense of purpose, it can motivate us to take action towards our goals and make positive changes in our lives.
If you are longing for greater self-control, be more bored. How come?
Because when we are feeling bored, we are delaying gratifications. Such delays help us practice self-control.
When we experience boredom, it’s natural for us to seek out new ways to avoid it. We start engaging in activities that bring us pleasure or distraction.
However, resisting the urge to constantly seek out stimulation and instead staying present with the feeling of boredom can actually help us develop greater self-control. By learning to sit with our discomfort, we can become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, which can lead to greater self-awareness and the ability to regulate our emotions more effectively.
For example, when we feel the urge to check our phones or scroll through social media to avoid boredom, we can instead choose to practice mindfulness or engage in an activity that requires focus and concentration. Activities like meditation or reading a book.
By doing so, we can train our brains to resist the impulse for instant gratification and develop the discipline to stay focused on our goals and values.
Fear and risk-taking often go hand-in-hand, as taking risks can be scary and uncertain.
However, by embracing boredom and becoming comfortable with discomfort, we can learn to approach new challenges or new experiences with a sense of curiosity and openness, rather than fear and apprehension.
This increased self-awareness can build the confidence and resilience necessary to face our fears and take risks. When we know our desires, values, and strengths better, we may be more willing to take on challenges that once seemed impossible.
For example, imagine you are faced with a new project at work that requires you to take on new responsibilities and work with people outside of your usual team. If you approach this project with a sense of curiosity and openness, rather than fear and anxiousness, you may be more likely to take risks and try new approaches.
By embracing the discomfort of the unfamiliar and challenging, you can build your confidence and resilience in facing new situations.
In a research by Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman at the University of Central Lancashire, it was found that engaging in boring tasks can lead to increased creativity and problem-solving abilities.
So, when children are allowed to experience boredom, it can lead to enhanced problem-solving skills. Instead of being handed a solution, they are given the opportunity to come up with their own ideas and solutions to keep themselves entertained. This can translate into their academic and personal lives as they learn to approach problems with creativity and resourcefulness.
In addition, boredom can help children develop patience, persistence, and the ability to delay gratification. When faced with boredom, they have to learn to tolerate the discomfort and come up with their own ways of coping, rather than seeking immediate distraction or entertainment. All of these skills can be useful in the long-term, both in their personal and professional lives.
Boredom can encourage us to seek out new sources of information and engage in activities that are outside of our comfort zone. This can expose us to new ideas and perspectives, leading to increased curiosity and a desire to learn more.
For example, imagine you are stuck in a long line at the grocery store with nothing to do but wait. If you pull out your phone to scroll through social media, you may distract yourself from the boredom, but you won’t necessarily be engaging in a learning experience.
However, if you use that time to strike up a conversation with a stranger or read an interesting article about a topic you’ve always been curious about, you may learn something new and satisfy your curiosity.
Take another example, there is someone who has been playing the same musical instrument for years and begins to feel bored with their current level of skill. Such a person may seek out new music genres to explore, or practice new techniques. If it is not working, that person can try out a new instrument altogether. This newfound curiosity and willingness to learn can lead to significant growth and improvement in that person’s musical abilities.
These examples show how boredom can lead to increased curiosity and learning, even in a seemingly mundane situation like waiting in a grocery store line.
Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.— Ralph Waldo Emerson
What do you say guys?
Aren’t these amazing benefits? I believe you agree with me.
Here comes another interesting question:
Even many successful people understand the benefits of boredom. Hence, I am going to share some examples of successful people who prioritise downtime and use it to fuel their creativity and success:
The co-founder of Microsoft is known for taking “think weeks,” where he disconnects from his work and technology to focus on reading and reflecting.
During these weeks, Gates has reportedly come up with some of his most innovative ideas and solutions.
The founder of The Huffington Post is a strong advocate for the benefits of downtime and self-care. She practices mindfulness meditation and takes time for self-reflection, which she believes has contributed to her success.
The billionaire investor is known for his frugal lifestyle and focus on work-life balance. Despite his immense wealth and success, he still makes time for hobbies like playing the ukulele and reading for pleasure.
The Facebook COO is a proponent of “unplugging” from technology and taking time for self-care. She has spoken publicly about the importance of exercise and spending time with loved ones for maintaining productivity and well-being.
The former U.S. President is known for his love of reading and taking time for intellectual pursuits. He has been spotted at local bookstores and libraries during his downtime, and has credited reading with helping him stay focused and informed during his time in office.
Now, I would like to share some examples of people who have used boredom as a catalyst for adventure and travellers who set out to explore new countries.
The British adventurer and author is known for his “micro-adventures,” which are short, local trips that anyone can take to explore the outdoors and challenge themselves.
Humphreys was inspired to start these micro-adventures by the realisation that he was feeling bored and unfulfilled with his daily routine, and wanted to find a way to inject more excitement and adventure into his life.
The author of the bestselling memoir “Wild” was inspired to hike the Pacific Crest Trail after experiencing a series of personal challenges and feeling bored and unfulfilled with her life.
The journey was a transformative experience for her, and inspired her to write about her experiences and encourage others to take risks and pursue their dreams.
The Irish adventurer and filmmaker has undertaken a number of epic journeys, including walking 1,000 miles across the deserts of the Middle East and cycling 14,000 miles from New York to Hong Kong.
McCarron has said that he was inspired to undertake these adventures in part because he was feeling bored and unfulfilled with his daily life, and wanted to challenge himself and explore the world.
The Australian writer and adventurer is best known for her journey across the Australian desert with four camels and a dog, which she chronicled in her book “Tracks.”
Davidson has said that she was feeling bored and restless with her life in the city, and wanted to undertake a challenging and adventurous journey to push herself out of her comfort zone and explore the wilderness.
If these successful people, writers and adventurists can recognize the importance of downtime for their creativity and success.
So can you!
Now you have understood that while boredom can be associated with negative emotions, it is not always a bad thing.
Boredom can be a great tool for those who really want to change their life for betterment.
Not for those who when bored dwell on their past experiences, who sulk, who cry, who think dirty, who are jealous, who are conspiring or have malicious thinking to destroy others.
I know you are not one of them. Because, you have taken time to read this up to here. You are a person who takes control of her life, and a lifelong learner.
So, take breaks from work and technology. Engage in hobbies and intellectual pursuits. Practice mindfulness, meditation and self-care. By doing so, you will recharge your mind and stay at the top of your game.
By embracing the discomfort of boredom and using it as an opportunity to explore and learn, we can expand our knowledge and enhance our personal growth.
May the force be with you!
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