Imagine a life we never get bored of. We, human beings, are always excited about everything – falling rain, cornflakes at breakfast, our special days. Evolutionary and instinctively, we all need a little bit of boredom in our lives.
Psychologist and the author of The Upside of Downtime: Why boredom is Good, Sandi Mann said: ‘Every emotion of us, any feeling has a purpose, but I wanted to know the reason of why we had this negative, meaningless emotion which is– boredom.’
Sandi Mann found that after the emotion of anger, boredom is the second most widely repressed emotion among human beings. However, it wasn’t a so meaningless emotion. In fact, she said it is ‘interesting enough’. Mann, was interested enough in the evolutionary reason of the boredom; she found that instinctively, we need the emotion of boredom.
‘Boredom, makes people interested in taking care of the activities they find meaningful.’
She did some experiments to a group of people; as a result, she found that bored people tend to be more creative than those who are not bored.
But what exactly happens in that moment?
When we’re bored, we’re searching for something to stimulate us that we can’t find in our immediate surroundings,” Mann explained. “So we might try to find that stimulation by our minds wandering and going to someplace in our heads. That is what can stimulate creativity, because once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to wander, you start thinking beyond the conscious and into the subconscious. This process allows different connections to take place. It’s really awesome.”
At first glance, boredom and creative thinking or intelligence are completely distant from each other. If the boredom is defined as a state of being exhausted and restless, it would have strong negative associations and should be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, intelligence is something we want to shine – remarkable success and unusual mental abilities. It is not directly visible, but these two opposite states are in fact very closely related.
Andreas Elpidorou, a researcher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Louisville and self-described defender of boredom, explains, “Boredom motivates the pursuit of a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory, attractive, or meaningful [to you].” In his 2014 academic article “The Bright Side of Boredom,” Elpidorou argues that boredom “acts as a regulatory state that keeps one in line with one’s projects. 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.”
Let your knowledge of the science and history behind boredom inspire you to bring it back into your life. You might feel uncomfortable, annoyed, or even angry at first, but who knows what you can accomplish once you get through the first phases of boredom and start triggering some of its amazing side effects?