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In this fast paced society that we live in, there seems to be this constant pressure for us to do things. There is always things to do and for many of us, being bored is seen as a bad thing. It’s akin to being lazy and simply wasting our time. But today, we’re not going to be talking about boredom as a bad thing. In fact, it can actually bring a number of surprising benefits. By the end of it, I think that I can convince you to let yourself do nothing a little more often.
The thing is, boredom back in the day used to be quite normal. As Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D wrote in her book “Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World,” our reliance on technology has gotten to the point that whenever we feel bored we often gravitate towards our smartphone as opposed to sitting and not doing anything. However, when we aren’t doing anything, Dodgen-Magee says that a number of distinct benefits occur.
The first one is that boredom gives us an opportunity to learn about ourselves. Sure boredom gives us the opportunity to daydream or to zone out, but as Dodgen-Magee discovered, boredom actually requires a bit of tolerance these days. We often feel anxious when we’re not doing anything, but if we are truly bored with nothing to think about or do, we can actually feel comfortable with not doing anything. Not to mention this boredom can help us in learning more about ourselves as develop our capacity to value ourselves for ourselves rather than for what we can or have done.
While many think boredom is a waste of time, there’s actually a lot of evidence against that, stating that boredom actually gives us time. Think about it a little bit. When we are bored, it means we have nothing to do, which means once we realize this we can fill that void by doing something with that time. In other words, boredom allows us to recognize that we are bored and this is big. The reason being is that for most people, if they’re bored they’ll feel more of a tug to their phone to fill that gap rather than let themselves be bored and then find something else to do.
And while we’re at it, boredom can also spark your imagination. In a world where we are encouraged to be constantly engaged, there’s actually very little time for us to actually sit down and let our minds wander. Today, parents think it’s their job to entertain their kids constantly, but that’s not the case either. Remember back to when you were bored as a kid. For many of us, we created imaginary friends or even built forts out of sheets. This was all thanks to our imagination, which is important even now as adults. We might not be thinking of imaginary friends, but being bored as an adult can give us the spark to be curious and to learn new things.
And finally, being bored can even help us in processing complicated emotions. Of course boredom is certainly about letting go of the notion that we have always be doing something, but according to Katie Leikam, LCSW, LISW-CP, boredom is an opportunity for us to take control of ourselves. It’s an opportunity for us to come up with our own solutions and ideas for what we should do. During good times and bad, boredom teaches us to feel comfortable and confident in addressing emotions that we are scared of.
All in all, boredom doesn’t seem that bad. By looking at the benefits mentioned in this article, I think it’s a good argument for us to unplug and just do nothing.