The art of ‘being bored’ and why it is important.

By Jillian

We live in a world of constant stimulation and instant gratification. It is a world where you do not have to wait through songs you may not like to hear your favorite on the radio, a world of streaming services and catch-up TV, fast food, digital photos, smartphones, Tik Tok…

We do not know how to be bored!

The importance and impact of being ‘bored’ are immediate, especially for kids and teenagers, and we must make time to be bored – to just sit, think, and breath.

Studies have found the ability to focus and self-regulate is strongly correlated with the ability to handle boredom. Being able to ‘endure’ boredom at an early age is great preparation for developing self-control skills (regulating one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions). And for those sporty kids – might just see them play for Australia!

The first and potentially most important reason is to stop the constant bombardment of stimuli. The human brain is the most powerful computer in the world. It is always on is thinking and dealing with decisions and stressors and, you know, keeping us alive and stuff. But no matter how powerful it is, it has its limits. It is a muscle and sometimes it just needs a break. So taking the opportunity to step away from social media, computers, phones, TV, books (remember those), music, Siri/Alexa and the like can be a valuable opportunity to help our overloaded brains relax and alleviate stress (Wojtowicz, et al., 2020).

Another reason for a little bit of boredom is to help stimulate self-reflection and creativity. Without the flow of other people’s thoughts, you are left to consider your own. Boredom is an opportunity to turn inward and use the time for thought and reflection. Self-analysis and true personal understanding are dwindling arts, and boredom is a surefire activity to rekindle this skill. Additionally, by allowing the mind to wander and daydream, we enable creativity and problem-solving. In one study (Mann, 2018) people who were ‘bored’ found their minds began to wander, which led to creative ways of thinking. The study showed that in the absence of external stimulation, we use our imagination and think in different ways. discover useful ideas.

Now I know the sporty types have scrolled to find out how boredom might equal performance… well it's simple – achieving sporting goals takes time and effort- repetitive, consistent, boring effort! You must work and work and work for years before the doors open. You must get up early and go to the gym, you must shoot one thousand goals a week, and you must understand yourself that you have to ‘do your time.’ It is a long road to success, and teaching kids early to be bored, and find joy in the process means they are better equipped for the rigors and boredom of the day-in and day-out grind of achieving their goals, which is they have a better understanding of delayed gratification.

This is equally evident in most goals. By way of example, strength training at the gym or running around the river is likely not something a person will genuinely enjoy, but they do it because they hope this will improve their performance, appearance or reduce weight (DiBartolo et al., 2007). However, the gains made by dragging oneself to the gym or pulling on those running shoes accumulate very slowly, making it easy to lose faith in the meaningfulness of this behavior and get bored. These activities do not come with immediate results, so some may lack perceived meaning, they are repetitive and hard, and this coupled with the perceived lack of meaning results in boredom and stopping that activity. However, it has been shown that those better equipped to deal with ‘boredom’ better understand delayed reward and, research indicates, are more likely to apply the discipline to conduct these to do well at their main sports or achieve other life goals.

So ‘scheduling’ a little boredom into your life is a good thing – and if you want to help your kids be world beaters, a bit of ‘urgh I am so bored’ might be doing them the biggest favor.

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