Too many people are afraid of boredom and that needs to change. Boredom can actually be really good for you and helps you develop as a human being. Getting bored means that you’re familiar with what’s going on around you, resulting in your mind looking for stimulus within itself (and there’s a lot going on in there). This boredom allows you to ignore known stimulus and focus on what’s important in ways that can’t be predicted during moments of excitement.
Boredom is the gateway to mind-wandering, which helps our brains create those new connections that can solve anything from planning dinner to a breakthrough in combating global warming. Researchers have only recently begun to understand the phenomenon of mind-wandering, the activity our brains engage in when we’re doing something boring, or doing nothing at all. Most of the studies on the neuroscience of daydreaming have only been done within the past 10 years. With modern brain-imaging technology, discoveries are emerging every day about what our brains are doing not only when we are deeply engaged in an activity but also when we space out.
Andreas Elpidorou, a researcher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Louisville and self-described defender of boredom, explains, “Boredom motivates the pursuit of a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory, attractive, or meaningful [to you].” In his 2014 academic article “The Bright Side of Boredom,” Elpidorou argues that boredom “acts as a regulatory state that keeps one in line with one’s projects. In the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively, and socially rewarding experiences. Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be doing and a ‘push’ that motivates us to switch goals and projects.”