We’ve killed our ability to be bored – and that's not a good thing.
Don't believe me? Try this.
Go lock yourself in a room for just 15 minutes and sit there. No phone, no computer, no outside stimulus. Just you, yourself and the room. Then, for the next 15 minutes try and figure out how to entertain yourself – not just pass the time but actually entertain yourself.
It's early, so you got time. Go do it now.
If you succeeded and the 15 minutes flew by, feel free to stop reading. But before you walk away, please share with us how you managed to stay so zen in such a crazy world.
Now, if you failed, you're not alone.
A study by the University of Virginia in 2014 found 18 of the 42 students they studied chose to give themselves an electric shock than sit in solitude for 15 minutes. One man struggled with the boredom so much he gave himself 190 shocks just to be experiencing something.
Just think about that for a second.
We've Forgotten How To Be Bored
Yep, we've forgotten what it's like to be bored and how to just be there. More accurately, we've forgotten how to deal with boredom by ourselves.
Instead of dealing with our boredom and learning how to sit with ourselves, we use cellphones, TV, Netflix (or anything we can get our hands on) to fight against any and every instance of it in our lives.
The 10 minute train ride – a quick flick through your Instagram feed. Five minutes at the doctor’s office – pick up the magazine in front of you. An hour to kill – nothing like binge watching an episode of Black Mirror on Netflix.
Hell, we've even chastised the thought of being bored and made it synonymous with bad.
But being bored is a bad thing… isn’t it?
Actually, it isn't.
Boredom is really healthy for your brain and is learning how to sit with you boredom is even more healthy.
See, when we escape our boredom time and time... and time again, we don't give the brain the space it needs to process. We blur the lines between the noise in our life and the noise inside our heads. We slowly forget how entertain ourselves, making us more and more dependent on outside stimulus.
So, the next time you’re bored and catch yourself reaching for your phone, stop for a second and ask yourself if you should just sit with that feeling.
Learn how to take the moments of nothing and fill them with meaningful stuff from inside. Have some good thoughts, a quick daydream, or reflect a little.
Let your mind wander, play a little game with yourself, or let your thoughts go a little further than normal. Try to figure out how to entertain yourself – with just yourself.
The first 10-20 (or 200) times will probably suck, but after that it's amazing where you will end up after that.
And hell, you may just get to know yourself a little better.