Boredom is Precious
We’ve forgotten what boredom feels like.
I recently read a book — Comfort Crisis (must read if you haven’t already) that describes the author’s hunting expedition to the Alaskan mountain ranges.
Author Michael Easter and his crew spend hours in the mountains waiting for their prey. While waiting, they have nothing to do except talk to each other and read instructions on their food packets. They soon run out of topics to discuss and food packets to read!
They don’t have their phones and absolutely no connection with the external world.
Just reading that scene made me shudder. What if I found myself in a situation like that? I would be bored beyond my imagination. How would I deal with that boredom? When was the last time I was truly bored?
The only time I could remember was when my son was a few months old, and I was tasked with making him burp. I couldn’t hurry things up and/or distract myself with any other ‘action.’ That was the last time I experienced boredom.
Our action-packed lives give us very little time to get bored. We fill up every empty space with noise, distraction, and even productive work. Bored while exercising? Listen to music. Bored while doing chores? Keep the TV on. Bored while taking a stroll in the park? Listen to the latest podcast. Bored in the washroom? Check your social media.
The author of comfort crisis talks about how that boredom made him feel better overall and provides evidence and details of the studies done on this topic. They are fascinating, to say the least.
Boredom helps improve your mental health, creativity, goal achievement, and focus. Yes, there are all these benefits associated with boredom. The problem is that we never get bored enough to realize those benefits, and that’s exactly what I decided to do.
The next time I went for a long walk (I do that every other day), I decided to keep my phone and headphones at home — no listening to podcasts, audiobooks, or music — to see how that worked.
The first few walks felt heavy and long, but after that, I started getting comfortable with it and realized the benefits that come along with it.
1) Improved thought flow — When you are devoid of external inputs, your mind starts creating internal ones. You start thinking of different ideas, and your thoughts become clear to you
2) Improved observation — I could observe and appreciate smaller things in life. I once stood at crossroads observing the traffic light pattern and deconstructing its sequence’s logic. These observation skills also translate to other areas of your life.
3) Eureka moments — I’ve received answers to so many of my complex work and personal situations during these walks. You keep having these Eureka moments.
4) Heightened self-awareness — You realize so much about yourself when you’re alone with your thoughts. You realize the mistakes you made with some of your past decisions, feel the joy of progress that you’ve made in your career, reflect upon your behavior with others, etc. This self-awareness is crucial.
5) Improved focus — This was probably one of the best outcomes. The day I spend this kind of time with myself, my focus skyrockets. It almost seems to have a direct correlation.
If you’re struggling with any of this, maybe try getting bored. The returns might be worth your while.
Originally published at https://productivityweekly.substack.com.