How Boredom Can Lead to Brilliance


Think of the last time that you were bored. Was it recently? I have a feeling it might not have been. With technology and smart phones, the amount of time that people are bored has substantially decreased. What do you do now in situations where years ago you would have been bored? Grab out your smartphone or iPad of course.

So what are the implications on us if we’re no longer bored? It’s actually incredibly interesting and after reading, you may want to look less at your technology and let yourself daydream a little more.

After listening to a podcast where Manoush Zomorodi talked about this concept, I got a lot of insight, and a reminder of how important it is to take a break from technology, and to just be bored, present and let my thoughts wonder.

Manoush goes on to say how important unplugging from technology is and how allowing yourself to be bored does something incredible in our brains. See, when you get bored it ignites a network in your brain called the default mode. This is where you aren’t doing anything that stimulates your brain or where your brain needs to be conscious and alert. Here’s the incredible thing, apparently when you’re in this headspace your most original thinking, best problem solving, and autobiographical planning happens. Autobiographical planning is when you look back on your life and you take notes of the highs and lows and create a story. You then do something that psychologists call prospective bias which is where you think about the future, figure out your goals, and establish the steps you need to take to achieve them.

A perfect example of your brain being in default mode is jogging, folding laundry or even sometimes when you’re in the shower. This is where you aren’t listening to anything or watching a program but instead are just with your thoughts.

In order to get to the real juicy ideas, you’re going to need some patience. The point is to allow yourself to dream, let go and just be. When was the last time that you had a really good idea? Do you remember what you were doing? Were you possibly in your default mode?

I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before but it’s the little tweaks in behaviour that can make the biggest difference. It can be habits as little as turning off our phones or technology and just letting ourselves daydream in our thoughts for 5-10 minutes a day. It’s also a really good idea to find special places to switch off and transition into your thinking headspace. The point is to just take the time to process your life and think. A really good example is going into nature and just relaxing and be open to what thoughts come.

A term, forest bathing, was mentioned in the podcast and I had never heard of it before. Have you? Apparently it’s very popular in Japan. It’s where you just go into a forest and let it cleanse you. I know that I definitely notice how much happier and more positive I am after I do something in nature, whether it’s hiking, bike riding etc. For me personally, I love nature and find it very grounding so this was a good reminder that I could be doing it more.

It was really interesting to hear that Manoush Zomorodi, a podcast host for Note To Self, did her own study with 20,000 people from her podcast audience and received great results. She asked them to delete an app on their phone that they used a lot. The point of this was to let go of the sensation that the app was calling to them. It could be a social media platform, a game that they played a lot, or something that they found themselves constantly checking like the news. Everyone was asked to observe themselves and make tiny tweaks to their normal behaviour. When she heard from her audience some of them were blown away with how often their fingers gravitated to check the app that they had deleted. It was a big eye opener for some people.

A really cool app that you can get, and one that I actually have, is called Moments. It keeps track of the amount of time that you’re on your phone in a day and it can even tell you the percentage that you’re on each app. I got the upgrade which was a one-time payment of $6.00 but in my opinion it isn’t worth it. By getting the app I realised how much I was using each app and it was definitely eye opening for social media apps like Facebook and Instagram. I was also made aware how much I was on GPS and using my maps to find places, which skewed my total time on my phone, but you can then look back on the app percentages and it gives you a better idea of the time usage per app.

I think the main point is to be aware of how much you’re actually on your phone versus how much you need to be on your phone. There is a very distinct difference and as a society we are getting into comfortable habits where instead of being in our thoughts and possibly being bored for a few minutes, we instead turn to our technology that can constantly entertain us. But at what cost? I’d like to think I’m still living my life and not controlled by my habits of constantly checking apps, but it’s taken time to work on positive habits like deleting certain apps off of my phone. The first step is to be aware. The second step is to create positive action around it.

Maybe it’s time that you reflect on your own phone and technology usage. Who’s controlling who in your life? If you’re up to the challenge, delete the app that you use the most off of your phone for 2 days and see how many times you go to check that app. It’s very eye opening. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

Remember, some of your most innovative and creative ideas come when you’re daydreaming and just in your own thoughts. Make a conscious effort and at some point today put down your phone and just be with yourself and your thoughts.

By: Cortnie Dawn

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