You may not remember the last time you were bored. Probably because many lifestyles barely give you the chance for breathing space let alone the opportunity to feel bored. However, scientific studies suggest that we may be missing out on the benefits of boredom which can facilitate greater productivity, imagination, and better mental health.
Let’s take a look at these 6 surprising benefits and explain how you can make room for some boredom in your life.
1. It can increase your productivity
The result of being bored can lead your mind to wander. You may think that mind-wandering is a waste of time, but research has found quite the opposite. Scientists at The Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Centre stimulated a region of the brain to increase ‘mind-wandering’ behavior and investigated the effects. They found that rather than reducing our ability to complete a task it actually enables us to be more productive.
2. Boredom can improve your mental health
One of the reasons we may never find ourselves bored is due to a dependence on modern technology. How many times have you turned to your phone as soon as you’re left to your own devices? We’re all guilty of it, but what are the repercussions of this?
Research from the California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences and Psychology has shown that an addiction to our smartphones is bad for psychological health. By stepping away from our devices, we give ourselves the chance to escape from reality, allow ourselves to daydream, and reap the benefits of boredom.
3. Boredom can lead to greater creativity
In a world that values hard workers, it can feel like wherever you work, there is always the need to ‘look busy’. Sound familiar? However, your employers could be missing out on a trick by triggering this behavior in their workers.
Research from the University of Central Lancashire compared the creativity levels of participants who took part in a boring or non-boring task prior to working on a creative task. The result suggested that boring activities lead to greater creativity levels after. Another benefit of boredom, therefore, can be to boost your creativity levels.
4. It can be a catalyst for change
While it might seem a contradiction, we actually need to feel boredom in order to make important changes in our lives, a study from Texas A&M University has found.
When we feel bored, it triggers in us a desire to pursue a new goal when our previous goal is no longer beneficial to us. Boredom can trigger a motivation for change and, in doing so, lead us to more rewarding social, cognitive, emotional stimulation. Making space for some boredom in your life, therefore, could just have some interesting and life-changing consequences.
5. Another benefit of boredom is that it can make us kinder
Another scientific study evidencing the benefits of boredom comes from the University of Limerick in the Republic of Ireland. In a similar vein to boredom being a catalyst for change in our own lives, this study found that boredom triggered the pursuit of more meaningful activities.
These scientists found that boredom could lead to individuals donating money to charity, signing up to donate blood, and a desire to be involved in volunteering. Embracing boredom, therefore, can make us better people.
6. It makes the fun times that bit more exciting
As the philosopher Bertrand Russell pointed out, “too much excitement not only undermines the health, but dulls the palate for every kind of pleasure”. In other words, with a bit of boredom in our lives, we appreciate the good times even more and, if life was always exciting, we wouldn’t appreciate it.
Russell highlighted that a life avoiding boredom can lead us to never be satisfied as we constantly pursue greater pleasures. By embracing boredom, therefore, we leave room for greater enjoyment and satisfaction in our lives.
How to trigger boredom
So, now you know how boredom benefits you, how can you tap into this beneficial state? A good method to try is to work on a repetitive task that requires little concentration.
Another trick is to walk around the block a couple of times and let your mind wander or swim some laps at your local pool. Make sure that you steer clear of your phone or tablet during this time (swimming is particularly good for this!). Otherwise, you won’t be able to benefit from boredom.
Resisting our phones is a key way of increasing our ability to be bored, so take note whenever you reach for this tempting device and train yourself to resist it wherever possible.
In allowing yourself to embrace boredom, you may find that some helpful results come out of it. Greater productivity, creativity, and improved mental health have all been linked to boredom as well as the power of boredom to trigger a drive for new goals and meaningful activities.
The next time your mind begins to wander and you reach for the smartphone, remember the benefits of boredom as it could just lead to something wonderful.
“A certain power of enduring boredom is essential to a happy life” – Bertrand Russell
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