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What Boredom Does to You - Issue 53: Monsters - Nautilus

The Importance Of Mind-Wandering

When we lose focus on the outside world and drift inward, the brain is putting ideas and events into perspective

When we mind-wander, rather than experiencing, organizing, and understanding things based on how they come to us from the outside world, we do it from within our own cognitive system. That allows for reflection and the ability for a greater understanding than we can achieve in the heat of the moment. 

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What Boredom Does to You - Issue 53: Monsters - Nautilus

What Boredom Does to You - Issue 53: Monsters - Nautilus

http://nautil.us/issue/53/monsters/what-boredom-does-to-you

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Key Ideas

The Importance Of Boredom

It drives us to engage in activities that we find more meaningful than those at hand. Without it, we’d be perpetually excited by everything.

Research shows that people who are bored think more creatively than those who aren’t. 

Focus And The Brain

When we’re consciously doing things we’re using the “executive attention network, ” the parts of the brain that control and inhibit our attention. The attention network makes it possible for us to relate directly to the world presently around us.

By contrast, when our minds wander, we activate the brain’s “default mode network, ” which is the brain “at rest”; not focused on an external, goal-oriented task. In this mode, we still tap about 95% of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in focused thinking. 

Types Of Daydreaming

  • Poor attention control: when people with poor attention control drift into daydreaming. These people are anxious, easily distracted, and have difficulty concentrating, even on their daydreams.
  • Guilty-dysphoric: when our thoughts drift to unproductive and negative places. We berate ourselves for perceived mistakes or flaws and feel emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger.
  • Positive-constructive: when our thoughts veer toward the imaginative; it reflects our drive to explore ideas and feelings, plan, and problem-solve. 

Daydreaming And Socialization

Daydreaming creates a lot of activity in areas of the brain responsible for autobiographical memory, predicting others’ thoughts and feelings and crafting a coherent sense of self. It plays a key role in how we understand ourselves and each other.

The Importance Of Mind-Wandering

When we lose focus on the outside world and drift inward, the brain is putting ideas and events into perspective

When we mind-wander, rather than experiencing, organizing, and understanding things based on how they come to us from the outside world, we do it from within our own cognitive system. That allows for reflection and the ability for a greater understanding than we can achieve in the heat of the moment. 

Embracing Boredom

Boredom often leads to daydreaming, which is involved in skills like creativity and projecting into the future. But we tend to suppress it.

Letting one’s mind wander really is the key to creativity and productivity, so it’s destructive to fill all the cracks in our day with activity. Some boredom may be what you need to solve problems, gain perspective and better your life.

The Dark Side Of Mind Wondering

When dysphoric mind-wandering becomes chronic or we focus too much on unsolvable problems or past events, it can lead people into unhappiness or destructive and compulsive behaviors. 

Also, mind-wandering in excess can be harmful to our psychological health and can get in the way of getting things done. 

Positively Using Mind-Wandering And Boredom

  • Instead of dwelling on negative events and thoughts and imagining how things could be different, use positive-constructive mind-wandering, to come up with a way of fixing issues or preventing them from happening again. What you daydream about is also a tool for self-diagnosis, as it tells you about where your life is and how you feel about it.
  • Boredom can be used to motivate us the pursuit of a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory. It acts as a regulatory state that keeps one in line with one’s projects. Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a ‘push’ that motivates us to switch goals and projects.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Boredom Sparks Creativity

Boredom is an unsatisfied search for neural stimulation. But, there is scientific evidence that boredom prompts the mind to entertain itself and can enable creativity and problem-solving ...

Boredom Is Good

Daydreaming can be “quite a respite” and provide a brief escape from day-to-day life. But it’s also beneficial to simply step away from distractions, obligations, and stressors long enough to feel bored and let your mind recharge. 

How To Be Bored The Right Way

Don’t conflate boredom with relaxation. A purposefully tranquil activity, such as yoga or meditation, likely doesn’t meet the definition of trying and failing to find stimulation.

To tap into true boredom, unplug, pick an activity that requires little or no concentration and simply let your mind wander, without music or stimulation to guide it.

Boredom is unused potential

Boredom is a disconnection to everything we can offer the world and vice versa. It's not influenced by external simulation, it's actually an indicator of how you engage with the world.

Boredom is a social disease

Ages ago, when people were busy trying to survive, boredom wasn’t a choice. They spent all their time securing food or shelter.

We are now overstimulated — easy access to infinite entertainment options is feeding boredom rather than discouraging it.

Embracing busyness to escape boredom

People embrace busyness  because they are having a hard time being alone and enjoying it

Being busy is a tricky form of entertainment however — we don’t feel the boredom, but it isn’t fun either.

3 more ideas

Niksen

Niksen

Whenever you feel stressed and on the edge of a burnout, you might as well try doing...well, nothing. 

Niksen is a term used to describe the fact of doing nothing, of taking a break f...

Idleness and its benefits

If you have any doubts in what the multiple benefits that idleness can provide you with, just note down the fact that being lazy from time to time leads to increased creativity, productivity as well as developing problem-solving skills, as it allows you to take time to see the things more clearly.

Tips to make Niksen effective

In order to keep your effectiveness high while doing nothing, you might want to consider the following tips: 

  • Find the good moments to take breaks throughout your day, in order to later be more productive.
  • Own the very fact of doing nothing.
  • Take your time getting used to doing nothing.
  • Adjust your environment so that it favors Niksen.
  • Get bored in original ways. All in all, figure out what works for you and make sure you do nothing once in a while, as it is so beneficial for your health.