Boredom has long been something that most of us have been strongly motivated to avoid. It’s seen as a waste of time and something to be avoided at all costs. And our smartphones have helped us to do just that.
Yet it turns out that boredom can make our lives happier, more productive, more creative, and more fulfilling. By allowing spaces in our days, instead of filling them with phone-checking and other distractions, we can live more intentional and fulfilling lives.
Some insights about boredom from Bored and Brilliant…
Boredom is necessary
We need to reclaim this word. It’s been hijacked and equated with mediocrity. But it’s not the case. When you’re bored you are opening the gateway to feeding, nurturing and cultivating your thoughts. Your mind needs boredom to do some of its most important work.
Boredom is a state of mind
In scientific terms, when you get bored, you activate a neural network in the brain called the default mode. Some scientists refer to it as the imagination network because our most original ideas can take shape there.
Boredom is a wakeup call
Boredom is telling you that this is a moment for your imagination, for your creativity, for your identity. It’s telling you it’s time to put down your cell phone and lift up your head to the great wide world around you!
Other interesting random facts:
1. Steve Jobs once said “I’m a big believer in boredom… All the [technology] stuff is wonderful but having nothing to do can be wonderful too.”
2. In a 2014 academic article called “The Bright Side of Boredom”, researcher Andreas Elpidorou argued that “in the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively, and socially rewarding experiences. Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a ‘push’ that motivates us to switch goals and projects.”
3. Research says the average American checks their phone 150 times a day. Would we be much different?
Bored and Brilliant provides 7 challenges to help us to live with intentionality and allow space in our lives for boredom to arise (with all it’s ensuing benefits).
Here’s Challenge 1: Observe Yourself
1. Download and setup the Moment app (for Apple) or the BreakFree app (for Android). This will help you to know where you currently stand in terms of phone habits
2. Use the app and some self-reflection to identify unconscious phone patterns and usage throughout your days/ week. For example, what are you checking – email, social media, weather? What grabs (and holds) your attention? Are you alone or with other people? Is it a distraction tool? An escape tool? What times of day are you using it most?
As one challenge participant said… “maybe the moment when we’re challenged by stress and instinctively go to the phone is one to pay attention to.”
The book was Bored and Brilliant – How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi. It has changed how I view boredom and is worth the read.
What creative and fulfilling things could you do if you allowed yourself to get bored more often?