We have been demonizing boredom for centuries. We just discovered that it is the best thing that can happen to us

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How boring, right? And I’m not talking about a specific moment, no; I’m talking about everything in general. Some even call it “the boredom epidemic“: this phenomenon of hyperconnectivity, which consists of ourselves jumping from stimulus to stimulus with the idea of ​​​​killing (and finishing off) any dead time to end up as bored as we were. Or more. But what if I told you that it’s okay that boring us?


What are we talking about when we talk about boredom? The first is the first. Perhaps the world’s foremost expert on boredom is John Eastwood, a professor at York University in Canada, who has been studying the subject for more than a decade. Yours is the classical definition of being bored: “the aversive experience of wanting, but not being able, to participate in a satisfying activity”. In plain words: it is something that happens when, although we want to, we are not able to focus our attention on something specific and, by the way, we attribute that problem to the environment.

quicksand. That last one is important. Above all, because the natural tendency (when we are bored) is to look for external stimuli and distractions. We are hungry for entertainment and we are out to hunt it down. But that ends up being a problem: in fact, what Eastwood’s team has discovered is that this solution is wrong. “Like the quicksand trap, doing that only serves to strengthen the grip of boredom by further alienating us.” of our desires and passions”.

As far as we know, people who are more bored are not only more externally focused as I just said, but also have more difficulty identifying their own emotions. In such a way, the more we focus on finding things that attract our attention, that distract us, that entertain us; the more we disassociate ourselves from our own desires. And we end up lost (and bored) in overstimulation.

An eternally unfocused generation: "I can't do anything for more than fifteen minutes without looking at my phone"

And that is a problem because boredom has many negative things Until relatively recently, boredom was a very little studied topic. However, in recent years, we have learned a lot and are beginning to understand why boredom has such a bad name. That is, we have discovered its relationship with depression and angerwith the pathological gamewith bad drivingwith the lower levels of self-actualization personal and even aggression and impulsiveness). Because yes, boredom is a more than clear trigger for aggressiveness.

What is the use of being bored? Taking into account all this, it is worth asking that, what is the point of being bored? And generally speaking, it seems that that especially unpleasant character of boredom “makes people want to participate in activities that they find more meaningful than those that are at hand.” That is, “the unpleasant feeling of boredom “reminds” people that there are more important matters […]more worthwhile things to do.

The problem is how we use that boredom. If you have followed me here and you have overcome boredom, you will have realized that this is a bit of a whiting that bites its tail. Boredom reminds us that we have more important things to do, but looking for those things sinks us deeper into boredom: this trip did not require panniers.

However, that is because the cultural perspective is making the other option invisible. The Eastwood team, which has worked extensively on clinical issues (that is, working with people “sick with boredom”) have realized that, in reality, the problem lies in this external search. His proposal is to understand boredom as an opportunity to “discover the possibility and content of one’s desires”.

Image | Priscilla DuPreez

How boring, right? And I’m not talking about a specific moment, no; I’m talking about everything in general. Some even…

How boring, right? And I’m not talking about a specific moment, no; I’m talking about everything in general. Some even…

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