Never a dull moment?

Why allowing your brain to be bored is a good thing

Why allowing your brain to be bored is a good thing

When’s the last time you were bored? My guess is not since before you got that smartphone. In those days of old — let’s call it B.S.P. (Before SmartPhones) — we would sit in a waiting room and do nothing, or maybe read. We’d sit in the car and gaze out the window. We’d ride an elevator and just stare at the door. We’d eat a meal and pay attention to the food, not the phone. We might even engage in good conversation. Perhaps in B.S.P. times, we even sat in the house and did nothing. Was it all that bad?

Researchers say no. It actually is good for the brain to be a little more bored and little less distracted. When your brain has time to relax, it’s more apt to think in ways it might otherwise not, allowing for creativity, inspiration and even altruism (doing good deeds for others). These types of acts restore a sense of purpose and meaning — a welcome change to the mindless time spent looking at idiotic, albeit funny, Internet videos and reading the minutiae of friends’ statuses on social media — things that, in all honestly, can leave you feeling like you’re wasting your life away.

Ever daydreamed and snapped out of it feeling refreshed and relaxed? Researchers say it’s the same concept with boredom. Your brain needs that downtime.

And for children especially, being bored helps develop an important part of the mind: the coping mechanism. When a child must cope with nothing to do, he has to figure out how to amuse himself without having a meltdown and how to sit still with his thoughts.

Putting down that device is also good for relationships, whether between parents and children or significant others. The other person is more likely to share what’s on their mind if they don’t have to compete with a device. That sharing and conversation is communication, and communication is the foundation of any successful relationship.

Boredom allows you to practice mindfulness, a state of being present. You’ll get more enjoyment out of eating mindfully and savoring your food, rather than mindlessly munching while scrolling through Twitter posts. It can even help you eat less. Being present with your child or partner will strengthen your bond and improve happiness. Other proven benefits of mindfulness include improved sleep, more stable emotions, weight loss, lower stress and less depression.

So next time you’re sitting in the coffee shop and feel awkward doing nothing while everyone else is on their phone/tablet/laptop, transport yourself back to B.S.P. time. Be content with just sitting there. Who knows? You might start a new trend.


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