We have to embrace boredom and learn how to unlock our creativity. Sandra- Marina Stoica argues being ‘positively bored’ has its benefits
Being bored is a state of mind disliked by many of us. However, once you know how to master its secrets you will love it. Choosing to find ways to avoid boredom by distracting ourselves often seems easier than facing it, but this is not the way forward. During the lockdown, artists such as the Rolling Stones have shown us how it stimulated their creativity by releasing a new song. Embracing it can bring to many of us an abundance of benefits too, but how?
It’s simple. Instead of panicking because of the unknown, we would be better off changing our mindset about it.
First step: Breathe! Face the problem with calmness. Even if it sounds daunting, be aware of it; take the time to make yourself understand that your reaction is the real change. If you allow yourself to see boredom not as an empty space waiting in a dark corner to catch you out, but one where you can improve yourself, experiment and be mindful of who you are, then you have won.
Unbearable ennui has always been given a negative value to it.
Some philosophers would argue it would be because of the vagueness in its meaning. It is a human condition, but most humans don’t want to deal with it and with a fast-paced life, our initiative to face this worry can be delayed. Author Lissa Rankin has the same argument, in her article on Psychology Today. – ‘When your greatest fear is boredom’. She says, “You’re always seeking for the next thrill, the next win, the next love, the next source of external validation.’’ She thinks we can win this battle but only by allowing ‘boredom to be an opportunity to either take risks and make change- or change our attitude.’
In his Guardian article ‘Our fear of boredom is simply a fear of coming face to face with ourselves’ Giles Fraser claims the ‘experience of boring’ is good, but because we now live in a culture that is pathologically fearful of being bored’ it is harder for us to embrace it. He believes the answer is not distracting ourselves and the panic that boredom evokes into some people is only an underlying fear of our anxiety when presented with an empty space.
My point is, the way in which this modern society is formed doesn’t allow us to have the opportunity to change the way we see the state of being bored as a positive outcome. It is naturally flawed.
If we are to split hairs, a short definition of boredom is the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest. Additionally, besides the multitude of theories around this concept, no one else has yet defined it better than Mark et al in their psychological, scientific research study The Unengaged mind: Defining Boredom in terms of attention. They ague it is the aversive experience of wanting but being unable to engage in satisfying activity.
We need to understand how this state develops in our brain first. Last year , Washington State University conducted some research on how people can be taught coping mechanisms to avoid negative responses to boring situations, based on a survey asking 54 people about boredom and how they react to it- followed by an exercise measuring their right and left frontal activity of the brain. Its findings pointed to the argument that people who are likely to be bored more often on a daily basis are the ones prone to anxiety or personal emotional negativity. Another conclusion was that if you don’t know how to correctly react to boredom then that’s when it gets dangerous.
However, that risk can be avoided by understanding how to safely let your mind wander when you are bored. In Manoush Zomorodi’s Nautilus article ‘What Boredom does to you’: The Science of the wandering mind’ she explains how this can be done by steering our thoughts towards the imaginative. If we are bored and let our mind wonder, we’ll be able to think beyond the conscious and into the subconscious. In neuroscience, daydreaming or mind wondering puts us in the ‘’default mode network’’ – a term used to describe the brain being at rest but still active.
Positive-constructive kind of daydreaming is about our internal drive, along with using our brain to problem-solve, explore ideas or make future plans.
“Boredom is one of the best catalysts to kick-start the process’’ of mind-wandering says Manoush, a living example of how boredom helped change her whole career.
English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, famous for many poems and sonnets such as ‘’How do I love thee?’’ also found her peace in solitude and isolation. Escaping into her inner peace instead of the wider world led to her growth and inspiration.
In arts “staring into the abyss of utter tedium’’ is essential for creativity. It can be a nightmare for others, but for artists it means getting ideas, says Shane Mehling, a freelance writer for CreativeLive Blog.
This pandemic pushes us into the first step on the beginning of a new journey and overcoming this daunting challenge will feel fulfilling and worthwhile. It all comes down to our own personal values and desires.