27 Jan Video: How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas
Have you ever wondered if it’s good to be bored? In today’s digital world and constant internet connectivity, it is hard for us to “switch off”. There is always something to entertain or engage us. Yet this constant “noise” and distraction is potentially stifling us.
In her brilliant TED Talk about boredom, Manoush Zomorodi explains why boredom can be very useful to us. According to neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists, when you get bored you activate the “default mode” network in your brain.
For instance, the sensation you get when you do the dishes or go for a walk (both without using headphones!) is one where your mind sometimes wanders and you “go into autopilot”. Here, your brain is starting to get busy. It begins to reflect on different parts of your life and forge connections between disparate problems. In other words, when we get bored, we start to (subconsciously) get a lot done! It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle in your mind and sorting out the pieces.
According to Dr. Daniel Levitin, this whole process is called “autobiographical planning”. This is where we start thinking about our lives and the “big moments” that have happened. We think about why these things happened, what could have been done differently and what it all means. This then helps us form a “story” about our lives and devise goals to move us in a positive direction.
Who would have thought being bored was so productive! Yet the sad news is, in today’s world, we are rarely bored anymore. We are glued to our phones and constantly check emails whilst watching television. Our attention spans have shrunk, and we switch between tasks faster than we all did 10 years ago. This is not good for our brains! Being bored is a good thing!
One good motivation to manage our attention better is the potential creative reward on offer. If we can allow ourselves to get bored more often, who knows what we could end up building? Perhaps we have an idea for a new business, or a solution to a pressing problem within a family relationship? You must give your brain the opportunity to work, to think and to process.
We whole heartily recommend this great TED Talk to help you start thinking more positively about boredom, and how to bring its positive effects more deeply into your life.