Remember what it was like to be bored as a kid? That downtime encouraged us to get creative and find ways to entertain ourselves. These days, however, it seems that boredom has nearly reached extinction.
Boredom is the empty space
Boredom is the lack of something. It is the empty space in between.
It’s not so much that boredom in itself is so great. What’s important is what happens when we’re bored. What we seek out when we’re bored.
People have always had times of boredom. And people have always found things to do to relieve their boredom.
Simple ways to relieve boredom:
- Hanging out with others
- Cleaning, fixing, putting things away
- Coming up with something new
- Reminiscing on old times
- Reflecting on how we’re doing
- Reading, puzzles, card games, etc
All of these little things have real value. But when we’re never bored, we tend to do them less. But not doing them, has consequences. Friendships wither. The home gets messy. Creativity is stifled. Memories fade away. And there is less self-understanding and self-direction.
Constant stimulation eliminates boredom
The problem is that today, it is so easy to quickly kill boredom. With smart devices constantly within arms reach, any spare moment can be spent scrolling through social media, watching YouTube videos, or scanning news and entertainment sites. Even a second of boredom can be numbed.
Companies like Google, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter are competing for our attention — and they know the psychological buttons to push to keep us coming back for more. Our brains have become neurologically wired to fill every moment with something, anything in a desperate attempt to avoid the perceived discomfort of boredom.
Do you reach for your smartphone any time there’s even a moment of stillness? This habit not only closes the door on boredom but also negatively impacts your attention span. It essentially trains your brain to constantly seek a dopamine hit from social media or the internet. As you can imagine, this is horrible for productivity. Studies show that boredom can spark an individual’s productivity and creativity, leading them to accomplish more tasks.
You’ll be amazed at what happens when you step away from screens and embrace boredom. Your house will be cleaner than it’s been in years.
New-found free time
Now, you might be thinking “This sounds good and all, but I don’t have time to be bored!”. While life can certainly be busy, consider how much of your free time you’re spending scrolling through Instagram or looking up random stuff on the internet. These things can create the illusion of busyness. When you reduce your digital consumption, you’ll likely get back hours of free time.
Set a goal to avoid picking up your digital devices every time you feel bored or have a minute of downtime. If you keep practicing this over and over, it will eventually become a habit. If you’re having trouble breaking the addiction, try using an app that limits screen time. Good examples are Cold Turkey for computers and Freedom for iPhone.
Embrace boredom. It might be uncomfortable, but it won’t kill you. In fact, it could improve your life in a number of unexpected, positive ways.
So the next time you feel boredom creeping in, welcome it and then find a healthy way to relieve it. You could spend time with your friends and family, exercise, make art, read a book, journal, or go on a hike. The options are endless!
“Boredom is the price we pay for memory, for good sleep, creativity, hours-long focus, calm, personal integrity, privacy, and freedom.”