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...
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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