Learning how to do nothing might be the most vital skill for thriving, with recent studies showing downtime can be beneficial in many different ways. So turn off the TV, stop checking social media, place your phone settings to silent and just sit. And next time the kids shout ‘I’m bored!’ you can tell them it’s a good thing.
It can make you more creative
Maybe it’s time to put away your mobile phone and twiddle your thumbs or perhaps watch paint dry, as studies have found boredom can actually spur creativity. How? By encouraging contemplation and daydreaming. A study gave participants a large amount of time to complete problem-solving and word-association exercises. Once all the obvious answers were exhausted, participants then gave more and more inventive answers to fend off boredom. Setting aside weekly, even daily periods of doing nothing may be the best thing we can do to nurture our imagination and come up with a big idea!
Boredom lets you know when something is wrong
Ever think you need a little (or big) push to make the change you need in your life? Look to boredom! Researcher and philosophy professor Andreas Elpidorou says boredom acts as a regulatory state that keeps you in line with your projects. ‘In the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations, and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively, and socially rewarding experiences,’ writes Dr Elpidorou. ‘Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a ‘push’ that motivates us.’
It can make you more productive
Being scolded for daydreaming on the job again? Cite this study to your boss! Researchers at Bar-Ilan University recently discovered daydreaming can have a positive effect on task performance. They found a wandering mind does not hamper the ability to accomplish a task, but actually improves it by stimulating a region of the brain responsible for both ‘thought controlling’ mechanisms’.
It can help you to be kinder
Boredom really can be a gift. A study from Ireland found boredom makes us more likely to do altruistic things, such as giving blood or donating to charity in an effort to find self-meaning. The author of the study says boredom makes people long for challenging and meaningful activities.