Boredom! The time we wish that never existed in our day; the time when we want to do something but can’t figure out what to do or what not to do; the time when our brain is not popping with any dopamine spikes. The time when we’re just with ourselves and our thoughts. But how can this time, when we don’t do anything productive, can do any good for us? How the hell can the ‘boring’ Boredom be good for us?!?!
What is exactly boredom….and what causes it?
There is no exact definition of boredom according to the scholars on the topic. Everyone has a different interpretation of this mental phenomenon, but you must be aware of some of these to grasp the idea of what it is actually. ( Well, these all can be a little tricky to grasp but don’t worry, you got me )
One expert on the topic, Cynthia D Fisher called boredom “an unpleasant, transient affective state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest and difficulty concentrating on the current activity.” Some scholars point out that it’s just a form of mild disgust or a form of response to a moderate challenge for which the subject has more than enough skill.
Elements of the “boring” feeling –
I know, all this can be very confusing as boredom has a lot of characteristics. They majorly include –
- Lack of interest in doing anything
- You want something, but can’t figure out what is it
- Unable to deal with the pace of time. Time passes slowly, each tick on the clock feels like a minute
Basically, an individual who’s feeling bored is experiencing a temporary lack of interest and stimulation in their lives, along with many other things which I’ve mentioned earlier. However, I bet if you take a pause from this post and think for a minute about what is boredom actually and how you feel about it, your mind would have already got its slightly different definition ready. There are so many ways to interpret this complex mental state, and it is totally normal for so many of them to exist.
Maybe, a part of that is due to the number of reasons we get bored with. Each source of it attributes a specific emotion or element in the boredom phase. So let’s explore some causes of this complex mental state of our mind –
Reasons why you feel bored –
- Feeling chained in a monotonous or mundane environment – This causes you to either feel restless about your situation or to give up and do nothing but “just exist”, feeling the passage of timeeee….goiiinnggg..slloowww.
- Lack of enthralling stuff – Maybe you’re done with all your tedious tasks of the day, and now you’ve got nothing else to do that is challenging enough or interesting enough to engage yourself. ( This often leads to procrastination)
- Unfulfilled expectations – People feel bored when their expectations are not met regarding an activity or situation. That disappointment often leads them to lose interest in any other alternative activity at that moment. They may also feel irritable alongside being bored.
- Dull social life – I think this one’s pretty obvious. If you don’t have anyone to talk to or just be with someone, you’re definitely going to have some lonely moments. When you could’ve enjoyed a person’s company but you have to be by yourself and feel bored. You may also feel dissatisfied or stressed. 🙁
Feeling bored can still be good?…
I know, after reading all the reasons I listed out and whatever knowledge you have built so far regarding feeling bored, believing that boredom can be good for us is hard. But hold on, let’s get straight into that now!!
So, what’s the deal? How can a time when we do absolutely nothing can actually be a boon for us? How can this insipid time inspire a vivid time later? How can something be created from nothing?
Modern time has drilled our brain into believing that we must always be engaged in something, we must always be in a constant quest for dopamine spikes, and we must always be productive. Even if we take a break, it’s mostly either a coffee break while checking our socials or just doing something due to which our brain gets engaged. But has the human brain been wired like this? Being busy all the time, never stop for a moment? NOO!!! And when this busy brain finally comes to a halt, our brain finds it negative. Feeling bored is looked at as negative. And they try to avoid it by further engaging the mind in more things, and feeling more fatigued and bored in the end.
The reality is that Boredom is actually healthy, and our brain needs it once in a while. It’s when we feel bored, that are we able to feel the passage of time and are away with all the rush of life of contemporary times. This time is the time when we are finally with ourselves and our thoughts. It’s the time when we can reflect on our experiences, extract our learnings from them, think deeply about problems that are troubling us and find ways to eliminate those problems (in short, increasing problem-solving skills). The problems can range from a hard math question you’re stuck on to a social issue you wish to resolve in your society. We also tend to plan our future goals and the steps we need to achieve them.
When we feel bored, we often can think with great clarity and almost effortlessly, as we are not under any pressure or self-interest to do anything except think what we’re thinking. So when this happens, we inculcate more creativity. After all, creativity emerges from the intricate blend of diverse thoughts, a symphony of endless combinations. So the more fluently, you can blend your thoughts, the better your probability of having your own “Eureka” moment soon. (P.S. – No this doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to be the next Einstein )
Moreover, since you’re bored and lose interest in any external stimuli, most of the time, your brain turns inwards. You tend to explore our graph of emotions during the day. If not emotions, then you may explore your goals, give a good re-assessment of yourself and create great clarity about your short-term and long-term goals. Sometimes, you may even dare to go deeper into your brain during this time and introspect about your purpose in life and questions like “What makes you happy?”.
Moreover, “feeling bored” moments can also be a turn-on switch for some people. It provides them an opportunity to do something meaningful in their lives. Maybe start that small business you’ve always dreamt of, or finally learn that skill you always wanted to.
If you want some actual psychological studies that have been conducted on the topic of boredom’s good for us, you can check here!!
I hope that till now, you’ve got a good sense of how being bored can be good for you too. Although I still agree, that whatever you do, the dull part of feeling bored is never going to get away. However, I wrote this post to make you realise that it’s not actually as bad as you think it is. Feeling bored once in a while is okay. And if we’re not able to be physically productive at that time, who can stop us from being mentally productive? Taking a good break from our rushy lives is also a productive task for our minds. In fact, it rejuvenates our minds.
But there’s one problem that I pointed out earlier, i.e., people find boredom negative!! And when this happens, they are never able to reap the benefits of this complex state. Instead of doing all the good things I mentioned in the previous section, they try to overcome this boring time by indulging in some other activity, like scrolling on Instagram or YouTube, or just taking a nap ( I mean it’s good but sleep has a time for it, we should probably stick to that time). They don’t use that power of effortless thinking that boredom provides.
So, what should these people do first to EMBRACE this catalytic feeling of being bored? –
- Instead of alluring yourself to a distraction, just sit and try to be in the moment to feel bored. Accept it.
- Since you would’ve lost interest in any external things, bring the attention inside, and look inside your brain. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.
- Try to use this time, and start thinking about your goals and your progress. Think about any changes to your plan if required. Set entirely new goals or end those ones which you can never achieve practically.
- Try a new hobby. Maybe you’re experiencing this dullness quite regularly and it’s time to end this chain. You may pick up a book or do something you never had time for in your busy life.
I sincerely hope that you try to feel the “I’m bored” the next time you are. And follow the points I gave you to embrace it and reap its benefits.