Have you ever felt guilty for doing nothing? I was intrigued by this utterly familiar feeling of guilt whenever I am bored and its connection with digital wellbeing.
Tim Kreider talks about the default response that most of us give when we are asked: "How are you doing?". The most common answer is: "Busy as always". "Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren't working or doing something to promote their work." It feels odd to say, "I'm relaxed as always" because your reply might show that you are boring, or maybe you are not doing well enough in your career. Nowadays, it's cooler to be busy.
Boredom is a common state which everyone (I hope) experienced. Yet, I've realized that we don't know how to embrace it. Whenever we have time to rest a little our mind, the first instinct is to open our phone. Think about it: while waiting on a line, having a break at work, sometimes even at the toilet. Whenever we find some free time, we open our gadgets and fill it with more news & notifications. It makes us feel like we're doing something productive.
Here is something you should know: there is a connection between boredom, creativity, and innovation. Studies show that boredom can boost your productivity and have a unique effect on creativity. For example, in one study, respondents were asked to do some tasks that were not exciting at all, and after these repetitive and tedious tasks to come up with some creative ideas. They found out that in the absence of external stimulation, people managed to find new innovative ways of thinking.
Moreover, boredom can improve your mental health. We are constantly bombarded with information and instant gratification; therefore, we overload our brains with things that are not always relevant or important. Our brain has limited cognitive resources for productive activities and we should use it wisely. Relaxing our overloaded brains has a significant impact on our wellbeing.
I'm writing this article to convince you that it's OK to do nothing. Totally fine. Let your mind wander, let your thoughts come and go, meditate, learn how to stay alone with yourself. Try to do this as often as you can.
So, the next time you will get bored at work, or wait in a line: embrace the feeling, do nothing, let your mind freely explore.
You might notice that doing nothing is more challenging than you imagined. Remember: practice makes it perfect. You can also consider using some meditation apps. I'm a Headspace fan, and I recommend it. (Calm, Omvana or any other app could help as well)
Life is too short to be busy. Embrace the JOMO.