We’ve got an interesting theory as to why the quarantines due to COVID-19 were so scary for some people. Yes, there’s definitely the crowd that found the quarantines scary due to their mistrust for government and other political reasons, but what I actually believe to be the case is that everyone was just bored, plain and simple. However, boredom can be frightening as it forces them to be alone with nothing but their own thoughts.
In our world of consumerism, people don’t really have that many hobbies. The COVID lockdowns revealed that all people did with their time was go out, spend money on expensive food, drinks and clothes, go partying and drink alcohol until they couldn’t remember how bad their materialistic lives were.
Despite these sorts of people existing, there is another category of people, who were bored too but used it to launch themselves into a more prosperous and fulfilling life. Boredom can work wonders for the human brain, allowing humans to reach their untapped potential.
A study was done in which its participants were given tasks to do which got increasingly boring. The most boring task was reading the phone book. After a certain period of time, the participants were then asked to creatively find as many uses for a plastic cup as possible. The people who read the phone book were able to generate more ideas than less bored control groups, as their boredom allowed them to think more creatively.
One of the biggest problems facing our society today is our almost incapability to remain bored for even as little as a single minute.
People are constantly using their phones while waiting in line, on the toilet, they have gone so far as using their phone WHILE DRIVING. This shows that people would rather be unsafe than bored, is that not even the slightest bit shocking to you?
While it is without a doubt that boredom can often feel tired, lethargic and disinterested in the world, paradoxically, it has the ability to then spur individuals into action and improve their lives. Think of it as a warning that we aren’t doing what we want to be doing, but also motivation to then go on to doing what we want to be doing.
As humans, a fulfilling life is one that requires meaningful action towards some form of meaningful goal. However in our attempt to avoid boredom, we find that we substitute these meaningful actions into unworthy outlets of energy. This includes people mindlessly consuming content on social media, movies, videos.
A study published by the National Literacy Trust, showed that in 2019 just 26% of under-18s spent some time each day reading. It also found that fewer children enjoy reading, and that this decreased with age as nearly twice as many 5-8 year-olds as 14-16 year-olds said they took pleasure from reading.
This can be easily linked to the average age a kid gets a phone, around 12-13. Suddenly, there is a more entertaining, more instantly gratifying method of consuming content which desensitises the consumer to dopamine hits and shortens their attention span. Of course reading isn’t going to be enjoyable, when people are used to doing things that provide a larger hit of dopamine within a shorter period of time.
So people are willing to sacrifice the accumulation of knowledge which can be found in books, for cheap, entertaining content that makes them feel really good, really quickly.
Boredom is the perfect state of being for intense and profound introspection, in which you can begin to ask yourself deeper questions about your own existence and purpose.
Studies have shown that being bored makes you more likely to think about the future and behave and think altruistically. This is what allows entrepreneurs to create multi-billion dollar business empires that create their value from helping others.
As mentioned earlier, people avoid boredom because they are scared of their thoughts. They fear that given the chance to be bored, their mind might start questioning their whole life, and whether or not there is any purpose or aim in it currently. Boredom can even reveal to these individuals that they are doing nothing in their life of worth and value, which frightens any human who ultimately desires that sense of purpose and meaning.
So is there any good solution to this?
Well yes, obviously, BE BORED!
Meditation is your best friend and you can learn all about why and how to do it right here. Meditation is forced boredom that results in reflection, problem identification and solving, before the eventual spur to action which is required to live a life of purpose and value.
Meditate everywhere you go. You don’t need the ‘Ommmm’s and ‘Ahhhh’s, you just need to allow thoughts to flow in and out of your head without judgement. You can even do it in your car as you’re driving somewhere, just turn off the radio and sit in silence as you move.
Stay off your phone as much as possible.
If you’re waiting for the bus, don’t use your phone. If you’re at home waiting for something to download on your computer, don’t use your phone, just wait for the damn download. As you’re walking to your job or somewhere close by, don’t listen to music, just listen to your own thoughts instead.
Give yourself a reason to get off your phone. This can include getting rid of all games as this won’t give you something to quickly open up and play as you are on the bus to work. Turn off all phone notifications, they just distract you. Unadd people on Instagram and snapchat so that there is less content on your phone to consume.
Delete Social Media
Eventually what you will come to realise is that for the average Joe, social media is completely pointless. The only people that really benefit from social media are people who can make money off of it.
This may seem counterintuitive, but make your phone so that being on your phone is boring. This means that as you’re waiting for that Uber after a night out, you can use that free time to just think and exist.
As a general rule of thumb, it's good to keep your phone consumption under 10% of your day. This means that you will want to have a daily screen time of less than 1 hour and 36 minutes.
Get in the Gym
In between sets, if you’re by yourself, use that time to just think. Normally when people go to the gym, they listen to music that hypes them up. As an alternative, it might be better to put on a song that calms you, whatever that may be. It can be a fast paced, intense song that still somehow manages to calm you down. Play that single song on repeat and meditate between sets.
The increased blood flow allows your mind to think clearer. Think of your gym work as a form of intense meditation. We promise, you’ll come up with some amazing ideas and thoughts when you’re grinding hard in the gym.
Well there you have it, a general guide to decluttering your mind and bringing good and healthy boredom back into your life. Whatever works for you, find ways to eliminate the “background noise” of your life, anything that doesn’t seem to bring you closer towards your goal, you should categorise it as something you are doing only to alleviate boredom. Make the hard things fun and entertaining again and just watch how much you begin to prosper.