When you are bored you are left free to roam through the halls of your mind. To ponder over complex problems and come up with solutions to the problems you currently face. —It enables you to tap into the vast amounts of knowledge stored in your brain. Let’s learn how to do this.
Some of our most famous artists and scientists like Dali and Einstein, were very outspoken about using boredom to come up with new solutions. Science has now caught up with these findings and has proven that we actually use different parts of our brain when we are meandering off.
You might be thinking that in our world of hustling and always being “on” that it’s good to stay productive, it’s good to work hard, work on your passions and pursue your dreams. Which it is.. but you’ll be more efficient when you also spend time on being bored and let your creative mind wander.
Let’s find out how to do this and what the research tells us.
What does the research tell us?
You use different parts of your brain when you are just wandering off.
Research by Neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen and Neurologist Marcus Raichle showed that when subjects are engaged in indirect, free-floating thoughts also called mental wandering. A particular part of the brain called the association cortex is highly active.
Other parts of the brain associated with more directed and task-specific activities are relatively quiet.
In other words your brain has more freedom and possibilities to explore and does not come up with default answers.
University of IOWA hospitals & clinics. Washington university in st Louis.
Boredom can make you more creative
Researchers at Penn State University found that those who were bored before performing a creativity test, outperformed the ones who were not.
Penn state university
Boredom can help you sketch out your future
When we are bored and use our mental space for positive constructive daydreaming, which is characterized by playful, wishful imagery, and playful, creative thought. The science says that this can reinforce and enhance social skills. Creates opportunities to rehearse situations, and contributes to the planning of personally relevant future goals.
Frontiers in psychology, Harvard Health
Boredom can help you find your purpose
“Boredom makes people long for different and purposeful activities, and as a result they turn towards more challenging and meaningful activities, turning towards what they perceive to be really meaningful in life,”
Wijnand van Tilburg social psychologist
University of Limerick
“A lot of good thinking and problem solving occurs at the unconscious level. For which we need space and time.”
How to get bored and embrace creative wandering
The biggest thing between you, boredom, and your breakthrough idea is your phone. —Anything that you can do without it is a win.
Practical tips for each moment of the day
When you wake up don’t grab your phone to read Twitter, WhatsApp etc. Give your brain some space to come up with its own thoughts.
Just get up, brush your teeth, take your (cold) shower. Let your mind wander. Give it space. New ideas will pop up, ideas of your own, not influenced by the outside.
If it’s possible, turn off phone and mail alerts.
After an extensive work period of 45-90 minutes. Take a break, walk for 15-20 minutes and just look around and follow your thoughts. Several experiments demonstrated that walking boosts creative ideation in the moment and shortly after.
Journal of experimental psychology learning memory and cognition
Find regular moments during the day to take step back and let your mind wander.
If this is challenging for you (for most it is), you can keep your brain occupied with a low-key exercise. Like doodling on a piece of paper.
Psychiatrist Srini Pillay says that Doodling can help your brain reach the deeper recesses of it, it can get you back in touch with the big picture. What is important to you. You can reintegrate lost parts of yourself and your deeper thinking.
Dr. Srini Pillay, Harvard-trained psychiatrist
Give your brain some space, see what you come up with.
Help yourself come up with new solutions and find out what you are truly passionate about.
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