No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you; you read the title right!
So, you’re in line at the grocery store check-out, a coupon lady with a stack of cut-outs in front of you and three other customers behind you. There is no escape. You must wait. Luckily, you have nowhere to be, so waiting in line isn’t really an issue… or so you think. You see, the longer you stand there, watching colorful coupons be slid over to the cashier, you realize what a huge mistake you’ve made. You start to panic as time feels like it’s standing still, the minute’s hand on your watch seeming to have magically stopped.
But then something miraculous happens. You remember you don’t have to stand here, dissatisfied, brain not stimulated. No, you have a device that can fix all of your problems. Your phone! And so, as your panic dissolves, your hand gripping your mobile like it’s a lifeline, you experience once again time disappearing, only this time it’s not because it’s not found but because it’s moving forward. You suddenly find yourself in front of the cashier, bag your groceries, and are on your way home. And as you meet your friends later that night, you tell them the story of how you almost got bored but defeated this unpleasant emotion thanks to your trusty cellphone; you’ll all laugh about it, thankful that these devices helped you no longer experience an emotional state we suffered a lot of in our childhood.
But what if you didn’t have your phone? What if the same scenario played out and you could not do anything but wait, with no activity nearby to occupy your mind? And while that may seem like a nightmare, is it possible that the boredom wouldn’t kill you? An even more absurd question would be: could allowing yourself to feel bored be good for you?
Now get ready for that jaw-dropping moment because after conducting an immense amount of research, many neuroscientists and psychologists have found that the answer to that question is yes! Here’s why.
Gets the Creative Juices Going
Senior psychology lecturer and author of The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom is Good, Sandi Mann, describes boredom as “a search for neural stimulation that isn’t satisfied.” In an attempt to get rid of the restlessness that comes with boredom, many turn to screens, finding a temporary fix. Unfortunately, that’s all it is; temporary. What’s worse is that this action of seeking short-term external pleasures and distractions can actually lead to more boredom in the long run.
But then, how can boredom increase creativity? Well, without electrical devices as easy go-to solutions to relieve boredom, your brain will still be on the hunt for stimulating activity. And when you can’t find that in your external environment, then the only choice you are left with is to create your own stimulating activity. And the more you embrace boredom, the more oil you’ll add to those rusty creative gears, and the stronger and wilder your imagination will run!
Can Push You Out of Your Comfort Zone
Whether you’ve delayed starting a new project out of fear that it won’t go as planned, or you’re simply stuck in a boring, safe everyday routine, embracing boredom will definitely help change that. This is because when you let yourself feel bored, you might often find yourself analyzing and self-reflecting.
Consequently, this may lead to the discovery that whatever you are doing, be it work or way of life, is uninteresting and not challenging to you and thus does not fulfill your desires and expectations. And because being unsatisfied is something humans do not enjoy, being bored can be a pushing force stronger than your fear that’ll motivate you to do whatever you thought of as uncomfortable before. Accordingly, embracing boredom can encourage you to try new things and set new goals, allowing you to grow.
Teach You Resilience and Patience
While as you read this article, you might grow more and more excited for those next moments when you’ll feel bored, it’s important to remember that the action of embracing boredom will be much more difficult and unpleasant than reading about it. But here comes another advantage of embracing boredom; practicing self-control. While it’s very easy to give into the temptation of finding a short-term solution to boredom, to really benefit from it one must hold themselves accountable and tolerate the unpleasantness that comes with it. Learning this can be crucial as it’ll teach you how to handle uncomfortable emotions and situations by understanding and regulating your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
How to Embrace Boredom
While it can be tremendously difficult to truly embrace boredom, one must distance themselves from any tempting distractions. Place your phone in another room and force yourself to close your eyes and let your mind wander. Stop listening to music on your commute home from work and instead look out the wind and daydream. It may take some time, but soon enough, you’ll find yourself waiting for these moments of boredom rather than thinking of ways to run from them.
After experiencing boredom throughout every stage of one’s life, we can all deduce that we cannot hide or escape from this sometimes unpleasant emotional state. And although so many consider this one of the sad realities of life, allowing yourself to feel bored can actually lead to great growth, self-awareness, a calm mind, and much more.
While we’ve spent hours trying to cure boredom, it seems that it’s the cure to so many of our problems!
Photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock
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