In the past, boredom was always seen as a negative outcome resulting from poor planning or as a form of punishment, without any perceived value. Our society has deeply ingrained in us the obsession with constant busyness and, at times, the need to be productive.
We all have a common understanding of boredom, especially the type that frustrates parents when their children experience it. Additionally, there are moments when we personally feel bored because we struggle to find something interesting or exciting to engage in.
Surprisingly, scientific research indicates that boredom can actually have several benefits for our minds. Recent studies conducted in controlled experimental settings have shown that individuals who experienced boredom before undertaking a complex task performed significantly better compared to those who did not.
Before proceeding, let’s delve into the concept of boredom itself
Boredom is a familiar experience that requires no formal definition. We instinctively grasp its meaning. However, there are intriguing notions regarding boredom that many of us may not have contemplated.
Specifically, we are referring to a particular type of boredom that can be beneficial for us. Nevertheless, it is important to note that boredom is not inherently good in all situations. Research indicates that boredom is associated with various behavioral problems, such as reckless driving and gambling.
However, good boredom serves a valuable purpose beyond that. Engaging in mundane, repetitive activities compels us to tap into our creativity and discover significance. Boredom arises when our daily routines lack meaning. Positive boredom can motivate individuals to tackle unpleasant tasks solely because they hold significance. This is the essence of our current predicament.
We are progressively evolving into a digitally-driven society that struggles with the ability to embrace moments of idleness. The constant presence of stimulation has placed us in a position where we feel discomfort in solitude. We are constantly seeking diversions. It is this very circumstance that renders discussions on boredom so pertinent and captivating.
Why entrepreneurs and individuals alike should embrace boredom
According to Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work, “In today’s modern life, simply waiting and experiencing boredom has become an unusual occurrence, but from the perspective of improving focus and concentration, it holds immense value”. Entrepreneurs are constantly bombarded with numerous demands vying for their attention. So, why should they allocate time for boredom?
Allow us to explain
Being in a state of boredom can foster creativity. Research indicates that when we experience boredom, our creative abilities tend to flourish. In various studies, participants who engaged in mundane activities beforehand, such as sorting beads from a bowl, outperformed others when later tasked with complex and creative challenges.
Boredom compels our minds to seek engagement, leading to different forms of creative thinking. Some individuals daydream, while others delve deeply into problems, both of which have a positive impact on our creative potential.
Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, suggests that boredom arises from a desire for neural stimulation that is unfulfilled. In the absence of external sources, our minds generate their own stimulation.
In our everyday environment, creativity and innovation may not always be readily found. Distractions, in particular, hinder the emergence of such qualities. We often discover new ideas when engaging in completely unrelated activities to the ones we’re contemplating.
By turning inward and exploring our minds, we may uncover new perspectives or observe things differently, enabling a fresh wellspring of creativity.
Boredom motivates perseverance and resilience
The experience of boredom serves as a catalyst for developing perseverance and resilience. Through encountering setbacks, overcoming challenging tasks, and actively seeking stimulating activities, individuals cultivate the quality of grit within themselves. In recent times, scholars and authors have extensively explored the relationship between grit and boredom.
Having idle time encourages us to actively seek out and participate in various activities. This creates an environment where we can confront failures within a safe context. Consider how many of us discovered new hobbies during the lockdowns imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We endured significant hardships in order to acquire new skills or knowledge, as a means of engaging ourselves and coping with challenging mental well-being.
To experience boredom is beneficial for our mental well-being
In today’s fast-paced world, we are bombarded with screens and constant content, leaving little room for rest. Instead, we find ourselves constantly engaged in online discussions about topics or people beyond our control. This incessant activity and distraction have a negative impact on our collective mental health.
However, embracing moments of boredom can be advantageous. When we allow ourselves to be bored, our brains are given a much-needed respite and an opportunity to focus on ourselves. Although it may not come naturally, taking these breaks and pauses is essential. Remarkably, our minds bounce back with renewed vigor after these periods of stillness. We feel refreshed and revitalized as we approach the next task.
Boredom plays a significant role in enhancing our problem-solving abilities
As we explored earlier, when we find ourselves in unstimulating situations, our brains actively seek out ways to engage and entertain themselves. This frequent activation of our creative faculties greatly contributes to the improvement of problem-solving skills. It enables us to approach problems from unique and innovative perspectives. The aforementioned experiments serve as compelling evidence of this correlation.
John Mark Comer, the author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, offers an insightful perspective on this matter, stating, “In the end, your life is no more than the sum of what you gave your attention to…. As if we ‘give’ it in the first place; much of it is stolen by a clever algorithm out to monetize our precious attention”. This succinctly encapsulates the essence of our discussion.
Being bored is good for you conclusion
Being an entrepreneur or such entails delicately balancing on a tightrope. Our attention is a scarce resource, and we must consciously decide where to direct it. Boredom arises when external factors fail to seize our attention.
However, when we have clarity regarding our objectives, boredom can serve a positive purpose. It does come with a caveat, of course, as it can be linked to behavioral challenges. Nevertheless, if we harness boredom effectively, we can reap numerous advantages and make substantial progress.
Being bored is good. When will you be bored again?