Are You Afraid of Being Bored?

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What are you doing right now? There’s a high chance you’re reading this blog on a mobile device with 4 other apps open (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and email), or on a computer while you’re supposed to be working. You also might be listening to music on Spotify or watching something on Netflix. Are you also texting your friends? We might have a good guess as to what your biggest fear is—boredom.

The Boring History of Boredom

The modern concept of boredom comes from the 19th century, where philosophers believed that boredom was the inevitable response to an industrial society where workers engaged in alienated labor that lacked a sense of purpose. However, graffiti on the walls at Pompeii shows that the idea of boredom has been around for centuries.

Boredom 101

Boredom is technically an unpleasant state of unmet arousal, which means that you are interested in doing something but feel that you don’t have anything to do. Boredom can happen as a result of variety of internal or external problems, including:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of imagination
  • Absence of environmental stimuli
  • Monotony (doing the same things every day, repeating the same tasks at work over and over again)
  • A need for thrills and excitement
  • Trouble paying attention
  • A lack of self-awareness or emotional awareness
  • Lack of autonomy

While boredom sounds like a terrible problem (and we have all gone above and beyond to prevent ourselves from experiencing it), more and more research is pointing to the benefits of boredom.

What’s So Great About Boredom?

The biggest problem with boredom is that it’s perceived as a negative thing. People dislike tolerating boredom or attempting to engage with it. However, what happens if you stop running away from boredom?

  • Boredom can open the door to thoughts and feelings that we normally block out or refuse to engage with. While this can be unpleasant, it can be a valuable tool for working through mental health challenges and teach you about yourself.
  • Boredom can lead you to better ideas, better ways of doing things and new ambitions. Many of the greatest inventions of our time were created out of boredom and imagination.
  • A study by a UK psychologist, Sandi Mann, found that adults given the most boring tasks before completing a creative thinking exercise came up with the most creative uses for mundane objects.
  • When you have the time to think about yourself and your life, you will also be more likely to engage in autobiographical planning, or sketching out your future goals and plans. If you don’t give yourself time to dream, you might be stuck chasing the same dreams you were back in high school.

Learn More About the Way You Think 

Reach out to CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to help.