Welcome to Did You Know, a bite-sized new column where we aim to make wellness more digestible.
On the agenda for today: repairing boredom’s bad reputation.
There’s nothing worse than being bored, right? Our “always-on,” extremely-online society tells us that boredom is a four-letter word and should be avoided at all costs.
But science says something different.
A recent study explored how boredom is necessary in order to live our best lives. It found that profound boredom helped participants discover their “self-transformative potential, launching people into new passions and unforeseen life trajectories.”
There are two different types of boredom: superficial and profound.
Superficial boredom refers to being bored by a situation, like a meeting that could have been an email. It’s characterized by a need to escape.
Profound boredom, on the other hand, is more of an existential thing that causes us to struggle with our sense of self. It’s characterized by indifference and apathy.
Both leave us in limbo and feeling empty, but in the void of profound boredom, we can question what makes life meaningful and spark change. “Our study reveals a paradox in which the emptiness of profound boredom announces the possibility that things can be better,” the authors of the study wrote.
We can’t get to profound boredom without experiencing superficial boredom. Preventing superficial boredom by scrolling through social media and being “always on” can keep us from finding more meaningful things.
Thus, the authors of the study recommend resisting the urge to distract ourselves all the time, and instead, spend some time being bored.
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