But personally, I find that being bored doesn’t come from having nothing to do or because I lost interest in something – but because I have a plethora of things to do, with none that really captivate me. It’s like a constant state of being underwhelmed by all the options you have at your disposal to keep yourself occupied.
Being bored means letting your mind wander freely, with your thoughts being only limited to the confines of your imagination. Sitting still for a couple of minutes in a world that is constantly pulling you towards your phone by the barrage of notifications, or the non-ending library of series and films to choose from, is something to be cherished.
A couple of years ago being connected to the internet was seen as a privilege. Nowadays, even a quick getaway from the barrage of messages, tweets and news updates is considered something that is very difficult to achieve.
Imagination & Creativity
The following story is the reason why I became interested in this specific topic:
The Great Plague of London in 1665 and 1666 forced a young Isaac Newton to move from Cambridge to Lincolnshire where he spent roughly two years there with his mother. It was during these 24 months that Newton was at the peak of his mathematical potential, and in which he observed the now-legendary apple fall from a tree, propelling the idea from which the gravitational laws were born.
The fact that he had moved from his home city because of the plague was unbeknownst to me, and seeing how he was away from home when he came up with the cornerstone of modern science was an eyeopener for me. What happened there that made that 2-year period so transformative for his career? I concluded that it was Newton’s boredom that spurred his imagination.
Just think of all the crazy ideas you had while in the shower, or while you’re waiting for the bus, or stuck in one of those mind-bogglingly boring lectures. Recall all those times you couldn’t use your phone because it would be about to die, or because it would seem rude of you to look at it. Those very ideas are the ones that could bring about something revolutionary in the best case, or something that drives you to create something in the worst case.
Boredom is also linked with heightened altruism. When none of the options that you have at your disposal inspire you to create or do something, you start feeling useless. You begin questioning the choices you’ve made and start doubting if you’re living the life you want to live.
This paralyzing sense of momentary desperation and uselessness makes you want to do something for someone, even if it’s something as simple as holding the door open. In doing so, your life regains meaning – because you’ve done something that improved someone’s life, even if it was from a low-effort action.
When people are bored, they think about their future and what goals they would like to achieve. Any long-term goals are set when one stops to really evaluate all the options that are available to them. And with the accessibility of your phone being the gateway to uncountable distractions, most people prefer to whip it out instead of having a couple of seconds or minutes to themselves.
As much as I love advocating for reading more books instead of scrolling through social media, sometimes doing absolutely nothing is also good for your wellbeing. And yes, listening to music is still doing something. Dwelling with your thoughts and emotions can help you solve the reason why you’d be stressed or anxious on a particular day.
Whenever you pull out your phone when waiting in line, walking your dog or just in bed trying to sleep, you will, essentially, be making yourself less likely to be creative, less likely to assess your surroundings, and far less likely to be altruistic. And God knows how much we need more altruistic people in this world.
“He who fortifies himself completely against boredom fortifies himself against himself too. He will never drink the most powerful elixir from his own innermost spring.”– Friedrich Nietzsche
Written by: Matthew J. Cassar
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