While researching a book about maximizing productivity, I stumbled across a Business Insider piece entitled: 6 Scientific Benefits of Being Bored. I didn’t think it was relevant at first, but since I was, uhm, “bored,” I decided to read on. Glad I did.
Being hyper-productive and constantly busy is a badge of honor in our always-connected society. But experts say we miss out on a lot if we’re never bored. Why? Because being bored can lead to some of our most original thoughts. In fact, there are even conferences devoted to boredom, including the International Interdisciplinary Boredom Conference and London’s annual Boring Conference.
Before booking your flights to “Mundania,” however, let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits to being bored occasionally:
1. Boredom can make you more creative. British psychologist Sandi Mann gave subjects various boring tasks to complete and then asked them to use their creative thinking. The subjects who had the most boring task — reading the phone book — came up with the most interesting uses for plastic cups, which is a standard test of divergent thinking. According to Mann, boredom encourages your mind to wander and helps you unlock more associative and creative ways of thinking. Hmmm.
2. Boredom lets you know when something is off. University of Louisville professor, Andreas Elpidorou, wrote in a psychology journal that boredom is a warning to ourselves that we are not doing what we want to be doing. When channeled properly, however, boredom can be great motivator that incents us to switch goals and projects, Elpidorou concluded.
3. Boredom makes you more goal oriented. In a process known as “autobiographical planning,” a team of European and American researchers found that people most frequently plan and anticipate their future goals while daydreaming.
4. Boredom can make you more productive. Boredom often stimulates a region of the brain that’s responsible for “thought controlling” mechanisms and “thought freeing” activity. Researchers at Bar-Ilan University discovered that daydreaming doesn’t harm your ability to succeed at an appointed task, but rather helps it.
Dr. Guy Baker, Ph. D, founder of Wealth Teams Alliance (Irvine, CA) told me recently that a certain amount of repetition is essential for becoming highly skilled in any endeavor. “Being disciplined, following a strategic philosophy and a tactical strategy can be repetitive. But it produces results over the long run. What causes failure is jumping from idea to idea and trying to outguess the market,” Baker added
5. Boredom can make you a better person. Researchers in Ireland found that when we’re bored, we lack perceived meaning in our activities and circumstances. They concluded that this induces us to search elsewhere to re-establish our self-meaning.
“It may appear to an outsider that the lack of change and staying the course is boring, and on some level it is,” explained Baker. “But to stay sharp and to anticipate the big picture and to recognize long term trends that provide opportunities requires one being alert and focused on what is happening around them.” That takes time and repetitive effort.
6. Boredom could be an essential ingredient for happiness. Almost a century before social media and mobile phones came onto the scene, philosopher Bertrand Russell mused on the makings of a happy life. Much of what he concluded is still relevant today.
“A life too full of excitement is an exhausting life, in which continually stronger stimuli are needed to give the thrill that has come to be thought an essential part of pleasure,” wrote Russell.
As Jude Stewart explained in the Atlantic, “In our always-connected world, boredom may be an elusive state, but it is a fertile one. Watch paint dry or water boil, or at least put away your smartphone for a while. You might unlock your next big idea.”
As anyone who has ever run, bicycled or swum for long distances can tell you, one of the best ways to get into a flow state is to engage in a repetitive activity that blocks out all the distractions. I’ve found it even works when mowing the lawn.
#benefits of boredom #flow state #creativity