Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Is it good to be bored?

The internet is full of tips on what  to do to avoid boredom. This assumes that boredom, which some link to depression, is bad and to be avoided

Yet an article (by Maria Ebling of the IBM Watson Research Center) given to me by a friend indicates that it's important to be bored; in fact, it's good to be bored!

A study in the U.K. shows what neuroscientists have been investigating: that there is an evolutionary reason for boredom.  The mind-wandering, daydreaming that comes when we have run out of things to do can be the source of creativity since it moves us beyond the conscious mind to the subconscious, where the imagination is most active.

Those who seem addicted to their smartphones and texting, says this author, may be cheating themselves.  Presumably, they never have to be bored since they have an endless supply of entertainment and information at their fingertips. But they miss a lot: the chance to do critically important work that mainly happens in "down time."

So, according to this research, it's good for writers and other creative people to be bored a bit. To those who turn to their pervasive computing, the advice must be: Put the phone away and think. Dream. Create something new and beautiful.

And it's quite possible that the electronic devices that are supposed to remedy boredom produce, in time, more boredom and, one hopes, more chances for the imagination to wander or for the artist to observe what's in front of him, turning the object of his or her attention into something worth sharing.

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