B Is For... BoredomRead Now
Want A Life Of Creative Breakthroughs, Purpose & Meaning? It's Time To Embrace Being Bored
It might feel like hell, but if the science is right, boredom, apathy and listlessness could very well be doorways to creative heaven.
Ah, how nice it feels to achieve something - anything, in fact. And how frustrating are the days when it feels beyond our reach.
We are just not getting anywhere, what previously enchanted us now irritates us - worse, it bores us stupid. And the panic sets in. Is it time to call it a day?
Well, yes, in a word. But quitting doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, as Veritasium explains in the video, below.
It turns out that when we hit a wall and enter that period of abject misery called apathy or boredom, it is actually a gift in disguise - as long as we resist the urge to distract ourselves from it.
The trick is to let it be, to soak it up to its fullest - and the payoffs are somewhat unexpected:
1. A Boost Of Creativity You Might Not Otherwise Get
According to scientific studies, there could be a direct correlation between the level of boredom you feel (slight, intense, mind-numbing etc) to the corresponding bursts of creativity you can benefit from as a result. The more bored you are, it seems, the better your ideas can get, is the theory.
2. Higher Levels Of Motivation
A key factor that motivates us into changing situations is finding ourselves in ones we don't like, so in this sense boredom tells us when it is time to shake things up. As Veritasium explains:
"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."
3. Increased Feelings Of Altruism & Purpose
If boredom hits existential crisis-level and you're questioning what you're doing with your life, this, also, has its upside. Studies have found that boredom has utimately lead people towards altruism, which, as Veritisium adds, can put the fire back in your belly:
"The silver lining is that it may trigger you to think about others and what you can do to help them. And that provides an immediate and concrete purpose to a life that might momentarily feel like it's lacking one."
4. Increased Clarity Regarding Goal-Setting
Lastly, one of the most unexpected, and needless to say, ironic, by-products of aimlessness is a a higher level of clarity when it comes to setting goals.
When you start asking yourself what you want to do with your life, you might find yourself in a scenario called Autobiographical Planning, he says, which is "to consider your life as a story and where you want it to go in future."
"In this way, being bored is essential for goal-setting".
So the idea here is, don't worry the next time apathy hits and you start questioning everything. It could actually be a very good thing that you are...
Barbara Sher On Criticism: This Might Help You Get Why You Feel So Inadequate
Understanding our feelings of inadequacy might very well help to dispel them next time they come knocking
Barbara Sher offers some priceless insight into why we might feel so inadequate, regardless of evidence to the contrary.
Marrying together three areas - criticism, inadequacy and perfectionism - Sher explains how they come together to create a perfect storm that can be difficult to get out of.
When it comes to criticism, Sher signs up to the old saying, "if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all".
Why? Well you might actually be wrong, for starters. But vitally, on a psychological level, she says, the criticisms (particularly if they are plenty) will do far more than just sting the recipient.
It will leave them feeling rejected, wounded and distrustful, and, Sher says, "they will remember the hurt", no matter how many compliments follow.
How Criticism Leads To Perfectionism
If the criticism happens in childhood (particularly if it is chronic), the deeper the issues take root. At an early stage, we can get hooked into feeling inadequate and easily triggered later in life.
One of the ways we can try and compensate for this is by being perfect, which even then, says Sher, is never good enough, either.
Perfection becomes a necessity as opposed to an achievement, as she explains in the video below:
"Being perfect is simply a "C", it's simple an average for you. You get no satisfaction out of being perfect. You're just out of danger's way, temporarily."
This feeling of never being good enough makes it impossible to get the feeling of getting an "A+", despite these high standards, she explains, and god forbid we get less than that:
"The slightest flaw [means] all is lost".
Simply understanding how these three factors link together - criticism in childhood, feeling inadequate and the need to be perfect - can be cathartic enough in itself.
But next time you need a reminder, it is worth watching this short clip.
It is a great way to recognize why you feel the way you do - and snap out of any kind of spiral those feelings of inadequacy can bring on.
S Is For... "SatisficE"Read Now
Barry Schwartz On Satisficing: When "Good Enough" Is Better Than "The Best"
It's not giving up and it's not settling for second best. Why learning the art of being "satisficed" is key to decision-making & happiness
Can "good enough" really ever be good enough? Your answer to that question will determine which of the following two categories you typically fall under: Maximiser or Satisficer (and yes, it is spelt that way).
According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, a Maximiser wants the absolute best of everything. It has to be perfect, nothing less will do and all options must be exhausted before the holy-grail-of-whatever is finally found.
While this might seem admirable - and in certain situations, it is - a Satisficer is often the one who actually wins out in the end, according to research.
Satisficers Vs Maximisers
A Satisficer has a clear idea of what they are looking for but will happily settle for the first option that meets their requirements.
They make their decisions quicker (saving time), maintain higher levels of satisfaction with their choice, have fewer regrets and are less likely to compare themselves to others, leading to higher levels of happiness.
Conversely, Maximisers might ultimately be more successful in life - including financially - but are less grateful for what they have.
The issue is perpetual dissatisfaction, always wondering if there is something better out there that they have not yet discovered. Not surprisingly, people in this category can be prone to depression.
Why We Need Satisficing
Being satisficed with your lot, then, might be something worth considering, at least in the a short term. Getting tangled up in a quandry over every single decision can be frustrating, self-defeating and demoralising.
It can also distract you from other things you can be getting on with and there is a lot of evidence to say you will come up with a "better idea" at a later point, anyway, if you switch off and walk away.
And if that's not enough, practicing satisficing as a technique can be a nice way of confronting any perfectionist tendencies you might be secretly harbouring. So the next time you spend an innordinate amount of time internally anguishing over the ramifications of that decision you just took, then this might be just the thing for you.
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G Is For... GritRead Now
Angela Duckworth On Grit: In The Long Run, This Is The Trait That Counts
It sounds harsh, mechanical, heartless; a "pull-yourself-together-and get-on-with-it" type word. It isn't particularly reassuring, uplifting or inspiring. And it can feel grating on the ears if offered as a suggestion when you are faced by what feels like an impossible task ahead of you.
But grit isn't about testosterone-fuelled chest-pounding. You don't have to be Tarzan to have it.
And you certainly don't have to be Tony Robbins to use it.
Who Has Grit?
Grit can be gentle, it can be slow, it can be plodding. The people who have grit are simply the ones who can marry their dedication to a wish or a task or a cause with a drive and commitment to carry it out (at whatever pace).
You can still be a loner, the shy one, a dreamer, the basket case in the corner - and have this trait.
Conversely, you can have the world's highest IQ, a god-given talent and come from a blessed background and not have it.
As Angela Duckworth explains in her TED talk, below, what ultimately counts is how we approach life and its obstacles - and how hard we work to overcome them:
"Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."
It is the domain of (and can be learnt by) anyone who is willing to stick at it hell or high-water and, vitally, who is also able to adopt a "Growth Mindset", which is being able to admit that you can improve - always.
And, as Duckworth believes, it is these kinds of people who win in the end - in all walks of life.
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