🥱 Discover the HIDDEN Benefits of BOREDOM (You'll be AMAZED)

We despise boredom. Literally. 

Just to avoid it, we’ve built hundreds of apps, videogames, the smartphone, TVs, and massive amusement parks. But, perhaps, on the other side of this emotion, there are amazing benefits waiting to be discovered.

This is Juan Cruz from Inerize and if you want to learn the true power of boredom, be sure to stick till the end.

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What’s Boredom?

Everyone, at some point in their lives experience boredom. It comes to us when we are waiting for someone who’s arriving late, when we go to the bathroom but forget our phones, or when we are at a school lecture. We suffer from it constantly, but have you ever stopped and wondered: what’s boredom and why do we run away from it each and every time we encounter it?

We tend to think that boredom happens when we have nothing to do, but that’s not entirely accurate. Boredom occurs when what we are doing doesn’t interest us enough. Wikipedia says:

“Boredom is a condition characterized by perception of one’s environment as dull, tedious, and lacking in stimulation.”

A subtle but annoying anxiety always accompanies boredom. Since we are not comfortable and engaged enough with what we are currently experiencing, we crave to be doing something else, more fun, and interesting. And this dynamic is the fuel of a whole industry: the entertainment industry.

Nowadays, always-handy mobile phones and apps like YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok serve as boredom killers that can be reached within seconds. Before their invention, we had to endure whatever bored us or recur to reading shampoo ingredients – I know a few of you can relate. Now, we just grab that fine piece of technology residing in our pocket and open the app of our choice that will entertain us for a few minutes or more.

We’ve become masters at avoiding boredom. We use our phones right after we wake up, when we are eating, studying, driving, waiting, speaking, watching a movie and right before going to sleep. When there’s a slight chance we might feel bored, we automatically grab our phones to kill that possibility.

 But why do we avoid it with such tenaciousness?

Why We Avoid Being Bored?

Unlike other negative emotions like fear, pain, and anger which are caused by dangerous or annoying things in our environment, boredom occurs when we are not engaged with whatever is happening.

When the circumstances we find ourselves in don’t interest us, there’s no other way for our attention to go but inside. Quickly, we look for something to entertain us just for the sake of avoiding being alone with ourselves.

It seems that, for our minds, being and life itself are not enough, are not satisfying. Heidegger states this idea as follows: “Profound boredom, drifting here and there in the abysses of our existence like a muffling fog, removes all things and men and oneself along with it into a remarkable indifference. This boredom reveals being as a whole.”

But on the other side of the abyss of existence, of the nothingness of being, and the bottomless pit of boredom, there are a few gems reserved for the ones that resist and embrace this feeling.

Boredom and Creativity: An Interesting Study

If you though that history classes were the epitome of boredom, think again. In the 1990s, Sandi Mann, a boredom expert, devised an experiment in which a group of participants were given one of the most boring assignment ever created: copying, by hand, phone numbers from the phone book for 20 minutes. After the time was over, she handed them a creativity test: to come up with as many uses as they could for two paper cups.

When the results came in and were compared with people who were given the test without any prior assignment, the group showed more creativity than the ones that didn’t copy the phone numbers.

For the second part, Mann increased the boredom levels by changing the task: instead of copying, this group had to read the phone numbers out loud. Of course, most of the participants found this the most boring scientific experiment they were ever invited to. While the first group could at least wander and entertain themselves with their thoughts, now it was almost impossible.

After the 20 minutes passed, they took the creativity test and, surprisingly, came up with more creative ideas than the previous group.

Mann’s experiment proved something that she suspected for a long time: boredom can and does increase creativity. But why?

She says:

“When we’re bored, we’re searching for something to stimulate us that we can’t find in our immediate surroundings, so we might try to find that stimulation by our minds wandering and going to someplace in our heads. That is what can stimulate creativity, because once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to wander, you start thinking beyond the conscious and into the subconscious. This process allows different connections to take place.”

Contrary to what we intuit, when we are bored and disengaged with our surroundings, our brain doesn’t shut down but instead the default mode network is activated. The term may sound complicated, but it simply refers to the state of brain at rest – when it’s not focused on some external object or goal.

Although we are not consciously focused on something, 95% of our brain is still active, subconsciously coming up with ideas that have the power to improve our work and lives. But this is not the only benefit…

The Benefits of Being Bored

When we get bored and the default mode network turns on, a process called Autobiographical Planning begins to take place in our mind. This consists of thinking about our life as a story, craft how we want our future to be like, and build plans to get there.

If we are constantly amused by stimuli like our phones, music, or TV, we lose the capacity to ponder about the bigger picture of our lives and purpose. Also, we might be letting creative plans that could help us achieve our goals to slip away and remain hidden in our subconscious.

Learning to be bored opens up the gates of our creative mind and fosters new plans and goals for our future, and that’s amazing and quite useful. But apart from these great benefits, it’s also an opportunity for discovery.

Rethinking Boredom and its Cause

Let’s rethink the definition of boredom we explored at the beginning of the video:

“Boredom is a condition characterized by perception of one’s environment as dull, tedious, and lacking in stimulation.”

So, boredom takes place when we perceive whatever we are doing as dull or our environment as lacking. Even though what catches our attention are the words dull and tedious, the key word in the definition is “perceive.”

It’s not that the situation we find ourselves in is boring, it’s that we feel bored in that situation. Boringness is not something inherent to an activity, place, or object, it’s something that we are doing. Since our mind doesn’t find it worthy of our attention, boredom is a natural result.

We check our phones when we are waiting for someone or the bus because we hold ourselves and reality as dull, but nothing can be further from the truth.

To understand what I mean, grab any object you have close to you. Literally anything.

You’ve probably seen it a thousand times already but this time, I want you to really look at it. Appreciate its color, its size, weight, the shadows it makes and so on. Incredible isn’t it!? We never take the time to be conscious of the details of reality, of its magnificence. As Sam Harris says:

“Boredom is simply a failure to pay attention.”

It is a failure to pay attention to whatever is in front of us, because with enough awareness, everything is worthy of our contemplation and meditation, even boredom itself.

So the next time you feel bored, remember that you have a decision to make: You can either follow your automatic response and grab your phone, or embrace the emotion and let the power of creativity, planning, and appreciation for reality emerge. If you accept it and perhaps even enjoy it, you may not want to turn back.

Thank you very much for reading!

See you soon!

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