If you’re not convinced keep reading.
Writers, musicians, or artists, in general, aren’t allowed to be bored.
They are creators for god’s sake! How can they not have some interesting idea of cooking in the back of their minds at all times?
But don’t worry if you‘re a maker and feel bored once in a while. It’s actually one of the most important factors in the creative process.
According to a scientific study, being bored gives us time to daydream which can lead to an increase in creativity. Without this state of mind, we wouldn’t let our minds wander and find new ways to do things (get ideas for a novel, find new uses of a product, and so on).
So let it get boring!
Famous artists were driven by boredom too
Who would have thought that Agatha Christie, the world-renown writer of detective novels, was often bored when she was a young lady?
Thanks to having this monotonous feeling, she would start wondering inside her mind and try to find ways to entertain herself to get her life a little bit more interesting.
Eventually, this led her to write. Those short stories and a novel she wrote by the time she was 17, were a turning point in her career. That’s when she decided to dedicate herself to this art.
Kate Nash, a British singer-songwriter, was also motivated to start writing songs during her teens because “there wasn’t much else going on in my life”. Once again, boredom was a motivator to make her create something that would get her out of this state.
It seems that when people don’t have anything better to do, the mind starts creating things to maintain itself occupied. It’s the push we need to explore outside our usual boundaries and fill a space that our mind is longing for.
Sensory Deprivation: An extreme case of boredom
Let’s start with a more subtle experiment.
Think of yourself being isolated inside a small room with a bunch of tasteless shakes of meal replacement products, a washbasin, a bed, and a tiny toilet.
Nothing more nothing less.
Everything in the room is white and the lights will always be on so you don’t know when it’s either day or night. And you’ll be inside this room for three straight days.
How will you feel?
It would clearly suck, I know.
But the interesting thing is that when there’s no outside stimulation the brain starts stimulating itself. You might start hearing noises that are not there or mix dreams with reality. The mind will try to keep itself aroused and when it doesn’t find anything outside it will start tricking you from the inside.
That’s what happened to a famous YouTuber called Vsauce who isolated himself for 3 days to experience first hand the psychological effects of mild sensory deprivation.
Check it out:
The lack of stimulation for prolonged periods will eventually lead to a significant decrease in your cognitive functions as well as your well-being. So in this case, when you take it to an extreme, boredom can seriously damage your mental health.
But what about short periods with complete sensory deprivation?
Let’s take it up a notch.
Now imagine you’re inside a tank like the one beneath these lines. The tank is filled with a water solution at skin temperature that makes you float so you’re sense of touch is significantly attenuated. The hatch closes and you’re in pure darkness. Plus you can’t hear anything from the outside. You’re deprived of any stimulation throughout all your senses.
What will happen inside this thing?
First of all, from our previous experiment, you know your mind will start generating its own entertaining system when it finds out nothing is going on on the outside. In fact, according to a scientific experiment, people need less than 40 minutes to start hallucinating inside an isolation tank. Keep that in mind.
It can also be quite beneficial. Another study showed that people experienced a variety of positive states:
Altered time perception
And this one is really weird. Some people have experienced memories from their earliest childhood. Those just after birth, called perinatal experiences.
Do you think this is just used in a cult-like environment or for therapeutical reasons?
Many of its regular users come from a variety of disciplines and find it very useful:
- Richard Feynman: Nobel prize winner in physics discussed his experiences in his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!
- Joe Rogan: famous podcaster actually owns one and uses it regularly for his meditation practices.
- Stephen Curry: two-time NBA MVP used an isolation tank quite often.
Are you now a little bit more curious to try it yourself?
Boredom has mainly been considered as a negative emotion and mental state, but new research is revealing a quite different picture. Here are some three take-aways:
- The lack of stimulus can induce a state of daydreaming which boosts your creativity. It can help you find ideas for a short story, help you come up with more answers to a creative task, or explore new ways of using a certain product.
- Famous people have praised boredom since it has allowed them to tap into unexplored realms inside their minds and come up with amazing ideas for their next novel or song.
- When the brain lacks outside stimulation, it generates its own. This is clearly shown in sensory deprivation environments, some more extreme than others. And it can lead to positive outcomes if you limit the time you spend inside these situations.
Try it out!
In the current state of the world where we might find ourselves with much more time and fewer activities to pursue, give yourself some time to be bored.
Find a place that will help you reduce being overstimulated.
I know it’s difficult but try to avoid any screens (smartphones, laptop, console, etc.) and don’t do anything in particular….just sit there.
Don’t cheat your way out of it! Permit yourself to be a lazy ass just once. Don’t try to entertain yourself by making doodles. It’s been shown that it inhibits daydreaming.
Just be there and see what happens. You might get positively surprised by the outcome.
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If you were interested in this article, I recommend you follow this link: Psychology