One of the greatest epiphanies that I’ve had in the last couple of years is that almost everything is a perception. Our feelings, ideas, thoughts, and experiences are all based on the mindset and ideologies that have been instilled in us so deeply from birth to where we are now. This means that in actual sense, we might just be wrong about a lot of things.
In his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck, Mark Manson puts it this way: Here’s something that’s weird but true. We don’t actually know what a positive or negative experience is. Some of the most difficult and stressful moments of our lives also end up being the most formative and motivating. Don’t trust your conception of positive/negative experiences. All that we know for certain is what hurts in the moment and what doesn’t, and that’s not worth much.
That being said, if from the time you are born it is instilled in you that certain experiences are negative, then guess what? You will end up running away from those experiences for the better part of your life. One such experience is boredom. I call it an experience, because contrary to what many people think, boredom is not just a feeling. Our society today glorifies constantly being on the move and always being preoccupied, so much so that the idea of boredom is completely frowned upon. But what we don’t know is that there is beauty in boredom.
Isn’t it ironic, that the very act of doing nothing allows your mind to wander and become more imaginative? I think, beyond it being ironical, it’s a wonderful concept that should be tapped into. Boredom propels us to a state of deeper thoughtfulness and creativity. It’s not just a theory, it has been scientifically proven.
In an experiment, researchers asked a group of subjects to do something boring, like copying out numbers from a phone book, and then take tests of creative thinking, such as devising uses for a pair of cups. The result? Bored subjects came up with more ideas than a non-bored control group, and their ideas were often more creative. In fact, philosophers have intuited this for centuries; Kierkegaard described boredom as a prequel to creation: “The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings.”
Boredom slows down your mind, meaning that instead of overthinking, you start to feel relaxed. Sandi Mann, a senior lecturer at University of Central Lancashire says “We’re constantly trying to swipe and scroll the boredom away, but in doing that, we’re actually making ourselves more prone to boredom, because every time we get our phone out, we’re not allowing our mind to wander and to solve our own boredom problems.”
However, even as we embrace boredom, we must understand that there’s a difference between lethargic boredom and “fructifying” boredom. Lethargic boredom is dangerous because it’s a state of nothingness. However, you can choose to look at the beauty of boredom, and open your mind to the endless possibilities of this life through imagination.
Let me leave you with a beautiful excerpt from an article in The Guardian: Let them do nothing. Really, nothing. Harden your hearts and do not rush to provide. Do not fear boredom. Boredom is a life lesson in itself. You need to find yourself stranded in its barren wastelands, forced to explore that bleak and unforgiving hinterland, push its boundaries, probe its depths and then, finally, work out a way of bringing yourself back into the land of the living. How else will you learn the vanishing art of daydreaming, which will save your sanity during the adult working days to come?