3 Reasons Why Staying Bored Is Better Than Scrolling Through Instagram

The ability to sustain boredom is a modern virtue — 

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Mark Manson is right. Not many people can do boredom so it likely is a virtue reserved for the finest, most patient and mature people out there. We all secretly want to carry around virtuous philosopher energy. Yet, we treat boredom like it’s a virus we need to escape from ASAP or we’ll die slowly.

Getting comfortable with boredom is something we all have to do, now more than ever as we spend significant time indoors and unfortunately, on our phones.

While boredom can be unbearable and demotivating, ultimately, it serves many higher purposes. Also, apparently boredom is a lit topic. Upon investigating, I found that: 1) there are people out there who research boredom for a profession — like the two Manns I refer to in this article, and 2) There’s an  which hosts #BoredomConferences. The more you know.

Continue reading or you’ll regret scrolling through Instagram for the next hour instead of bathing in boredom and gaining all the perks I’m about to share with you. I promise, this is going to get interesting-ish?

Boredom is a gift

“In a post-internet world, it’s easy to resist boredom. I can’t even pee without scrolling through Instagram. But I’m trying to let go of the panic that creeps in at the first sign of nothingness, and appreciate it for what it is: a luxury.” — Kat Patrick

Boredom may not necessarily be a luxury, as there are so many people out there doing extremely boring things — to make a living for one — which are completely the opposite of luxurious. Think underpaid factory workers and anyone who uses an excel sheet.

That being said, boredom is a gift of sorts and can be used to serve many functions.

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1. Boredom functions as an alert system

“One of the things about boredom that researchers have found is that its function is as “an alert system”. It could be alerting you to all kinds of different things. Maybe we’re not happy with what we’re doing and that’s why we feel that way. Maybe we’re feeling trapped because of circumstances outside of our control. Maybe we’re feeling angry at someone but we’re trying not to feel angry with someone.— Mary Mann, author of Yawn, Adventures in Boredom

Basically, boredom is a sign from the universe that something is not going right.

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.” -Andreas Elpidorou, The Bright Side of Boredom [2014].

Instead of getting angry with boredom, be excited that it might be sending you signs. Next time you’re bored, grab a pen and paper and try to find out what your boredom is trying to tell you.

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2. Boredom makes you more creative

When you’re bored and allow your mind to wander, you start thinking beyond the conscious and into the subconscious.

Boredom researcher Sandi Mann conducted two experiments which lead to her conclusion: People who are bored think more creatively.

In both experiments, participants had to engage in a creative task — to come up with as many uses as they could think for everyday objects such as cups, paper clips, or a chair. However, each experiment was preceded by a different 20-minute boring task.

In the first, the boring task was copying phone numbers of a phone book. 😖

In the second, the participants were made to read the phone numbers out loud instead of copying them.

The participants did better on the creative task in the second experiment.

Mann reasoned that in the first experiment –copying phone numbers-, the participants spaced out — which meant their minds weren’t switched off. In the second experiment, the active part of reading the phone numbers forced their minds to switch off — which made them more creative in the task!

So basically, being bored yet actively engaged in a task makes you more creative. Because your mind enters a flow state and doesn’t wander.

In a way, boredom and meditation are similar. Meditation is great for creativity because it gradually teaches you to be focused and not distracted by your thoughts. It’s the same with boredom. If you sustain it by doing the boring task you have to do, whatever it is, it might be more rewarding than you think.

“Boredom always precedes a period of great creativity” — Robert M. Pirsig

3. Instagram Kills Boredom But Makes You More Bored

I remember 13-year-old me thinking my mother was completely insane whenever she suggested I read a book upon confiding to her that I was literally bored to death. To me, boredom had to be cured by some form of entertainment, mainly watching TV or playing a game, but never reading.

Today, social media is the obvious cure for boredom. But not the best cure.

Every time you’re bored and decide to scroll through Instagram or spend three days consuming TikTok content, you are missing our on an opportunity to enter into a flow state through boredom.

There’s nothing wrong with occasional mindless consumption, but numbing your boredom with an explosion of content can’t be good for you. You’ll wind up feeling lethargic and scattered — very likely, more bored.

In fact, a revealed that individuals who used their phones to alleviate boredom at work actually ended up feeling worse afterward.

When you’re bored, you likely have time on your hands which means you can do things you wouldn’t normally care to do (unless you’re at work). If you invest it by doing something creative or even going for a jog, you can enter a flow state of sharp thinking and creativity. You produce amazing ideas and feel content.

Read, paint, jog, workout, play an instrument or dance. Do whatever flow state activity you feel like doing but don’t waste your boredom each time scrolling through Instagram because you’ll be missing on so many great benefits accumulated over time.

Follow me for regular content and feel free to suggest any topic you want me to write about. If you enjoyed this read, please leave me a few or more claps- it helps me a lot!

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