Boredom is something most of us strive to avoid, but there's evidence that maybe we should stop trying to fill those voids and instead just embrace them.
While boredom might not be the most pleasant of states, that doesn't mean that it doesn't have a purpose. We're bored because we're curious, and when we're bored, that's a sign we want more. And that can lead to some pretty great upsides:
Boredom boosts creativity.
When we're bored, we're apt to daydream, which can often lead to making new connections or coming up with new ideas and innovations. Studies have found that we do our best thinking in the shower, which is because our mind isn't fully engaged and has the chance to wander. When we're focused on a single task, our thinking tends to be linear. But when our minds roam free, our ideas can intersect in new ways.
It can inspire us to pursue new goals, opportunities and ideas.
When we get bored of our existing surroundings and goals, we're often propelled to seek out new ones. Boredom sparks you to change your current, uninteresting situation – whether by asking for more responsibility or looking for new endeavors. When we're bored, we look for new ways to engage our minds and that often results in new ideas and even new experiences.
Boredom can help us excel in the workplace.
Contrary to most mindsets, boredom can actually be a good thing in the workplace, particularly in the creative fields. All of the above reasons – increased creativity, the inspiration to pursue new goals and the urge to think outside the box – can benefit office creativity, even if it may seem like productivity is temporarily on pause.
A study done last year found that when people come up with more innovative solutions to tasks at hand when they're more bored. For the experiment, 40 people first carried out a boring task — copying numbers out of a phone book — and then completed a more involved task — brainstorming uses for a pair of cups. Another group just worked on coming up with ideas for how to use the cups. After spending time on a mundane task, the first group was able to come up with many more innovative uses for the cups than the second group.
You're not the only bored one out there.
If none of those perks make you feel better about your boredom, take solace in the fact that you're definitely not the only bored one out there.
While boredom does admittedly come with its downsides, like an increased tendency toward substance abuse, depression and anxiety, overeating and a loss of focus, it doesn't come without a purpose. Boredom may seem like the bane of our existence, but, without it, there's a good chance we wouldn't be where we were today. At one time or another we're all bored – but for good reason.
So next time you're twiddling your thumbs, put down your phone, turn off the TV, and just let your mind wander. Being bored to death isn't as bad as it sounds.