WARNING: MAY CAUSE BOREDOM
You know the feeling. Stuck. Tired. Lonely. Many people say they’re bored when they feel lonely. Some people are bored when they’re in a room full of people. I guess it must be the wrong people.
Dr. Erin C. Westgate studies boredom. How exciting! It really is. She gave people the option of electrically shocking themselves when they got bored. Almost half opted for the electricity! That would indicate half of us make painful situations even more painful!
“It's a failure of imagination” according to Dr. Westgate. Did we forget how to use it? Maybe we never learned. Do you remember a class on imagination in school? I don’t.
You know the question about the chicken or the egg. Andrew Lepp, Ph.D. and Jacob Barkley, Ph.D., asked a similar a question. Does social media use cause boredom? Or does boredom cause social media use? Which comes first? Their research showed that social media use caused boredom to increase! Social media may not be the actual cause of boredom, but it does make it worse. Participants became increasingly disengaged, inattentive and felt as if time was passing more slowly.” As Lepp states, “What is interesting is that people believe the opposite.” Never underestimate the power of what you believe!
Walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes registered as less boring, which means more exciting, than the same time spent on social media. You might be wondering who they studied? Senior citizens? No, college students!
Lepp and Barkley agree, the cure to boredom is engaging in mildly challenging activities that require some skill and effort. We’re back to that failure of imagination. Imagination is a skill and it does require effort.
Your brain is a creative machine. If you’re not creating or learning something of value you will be bored. It’s really that simple. Learn something actionable, not trivial, and then CHOOSE to act on it. Create!
If walking on a treadmill is more exiting that surfing social media, IMAGINE walking outside in nature! You’ve been mislead to believe that you have to be entertained and you’re not capable of imaginative thought and action. It’s simply not true.
Unless you’re a legitimate content creator on social media all you’re doing is consuming someone else’s thoughts. You’re NOT thinking! Thinking requires effort. Effort, when pursued to the level of accomplishment releases dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is an anticipatory reward neurotransmitter. You’ll like how that feels!
Do something that adds value for others and you’ll no longer wrestle with boredom. It’s a win win, you’ll feel better and so will the person you help.