Today’s society is afraid of boredom. It has become a forbidden, must-do condition, synonymous with unpleasantness, idleness and emptiness. Being inactive seems inconceivable, so much so that the number of leisure and entertainment activities available has exploded in recent years. We are constantly trying to avoid being bored, for example by taking out our phone at the slightest opportunity, to pass the time while waiting for the bus, while waiting in line, in transportation…
However, boredom is a necessary emotion, just like anger, fear or joy. It appears when we are unoccupied but also when an effort must be made to maintain our attention over time. Thus, in a world of constant stimulation, it is sometimes necessary to know how to slow down and take the time to concentrate on oneself and one’s environment, and thus let one’s mind rest.
THE BENEFITS OF BOREDOM
“Boredom gives advice” – Gilbert Cesbron
1 – Stimulate your creativity
Being bored, by definition, is not finding an occupation when there is no obligation and the desire to do a satisfying activity. It is therefore an opportunity for the brain to rest, since it does not need to be attentive or active, and for us to give free rein to our thoughts and imagination. We go into automatic mode, which allows the mind to escape, to wander but also to integrate and analyze all the information received. It is indeed a time of psychic elaboration which allows us to go beyond the conscious and thus leads to a different reflection. We finally allow ourselves to daydream, which in the long run develops creativity.
2 – Turn to others
Fear of boredom is mostly about the emptiness and sadness it can generate. Motivated by the search for meaning, we will then tend to invest ourselves in activities that will give us the feeling of doing something good, of doing something useful and consequent. Thus, we will show more prosocial, altruistic behaviors, in order to feel that our actions are important.
Escaping from boredom is also, in a way, getting out of one’s bubble, and going to meet new people or discovering new hobbies. Paradoxically, doing nothing pushes us to move forward and reconnect with our values.
3 – Take care of your morale
In small doses, being bored has health benefits, both physically and morally. A common prejudice that often comes up is that boredom leads to depression, but it is mainly the fact of ruminating, that is to say, of repeating the same negative ideas over and over again, that leads to a harmful response to inaction. In reality, it is not a matter of letting boredom take over, but of eliminating the excess of stimuli for a while, to avoid cutting yourself off from the world or drowning in leisure activities without ever catching your breath. A break will reduce the stress and anxiety that inhabit our daily lives, to make room for a welcome respite.
4 – Reconnect
Taking a break is also a way to meditate on your problems without being overwhelmed or trying to repress them. It is not a matter of letting yourself be overwhelmed by anxiety but of taking the time to listen to yourself and to step back. Boredom helps to become aware of what is wrong, what needs to be changed and thus allows to put one’s life, desires and interests in order. It is an opportunity to realize that the present situation is out of step with our expectations and to reconnect with what really matters.
HOW TO GET BORED?
Being constantly absorbed in an activity can give the feeling of filling a void and keeping control of the time that flies by. Yet, being reasonably bored is a way to develop imagination, creativity and self-awareness. It’s a normal process that you have to learn to cope with at your own pace.
It is not a matter of programming when to be bored, but of not systematically avoiding inactivity. In this way, we can choose to resist old reflexes, such as filling in the gap with technology, and simply enjoy the passing of time, walking around aimlessly, looking at the landscape on the train, observing nature and so on.
Being receptive and unfocused, avoiding stimuli, disconnecting from screens, or simply closing your eyes and lying on your back, are good ways to reap the benefits of boredom.
If letting go is difficult at the beginning, one can also get bored voluntarily, for example by using methods similar to meditation, such as watching the hands of one’s watch turn, which forces one to confront the elasticity of time, and gradually let one’s mind breathe.
Finally, to be bored is to give oneself a time for reflection and daydreaming, by freeing oneself mentally.