Hey there eye-rollers, Trace here for Dnews, thank you for watching.
My mom always said, "People who are bored, are boring people," and whether or not you agree with my old lady as to the source of boredom, you know you want to avoid it.
If you're somehow unfamiliar, boredom, or ennui, is a feeling of listlessness.
An emotional state where you're uninterested in your surroundings and generally unoccupied.
If that seems vague, it's because there's not a scientific definition of boredom!
It was first described in 1852, so it's a relatively recent cultural phenomenon, and new science says it might be a dangerous one.
Research into boredom has found two types of people are especially susceptible to its effects.
First, people who are thrill-seekers, people for whom the day-to-day just doesn't seem to jazz them up enough.
These people find the world "chronically under-stimulating," writes the Guardian.
The other group are those who shut themselves off from the world due to fear or trauma.
They live in their comfort zone, which turns out to be a pretty boring place.
In the end, a South African study, found boredom was the single largest contributor to the use of drugs, alcohol and cannabis.
Another study found when people were left in a room alone without entertainment, they'd willingly push a button that they knew would deliver a mild electric shock, just to have something to do.
Boredom is pretty powerful.
A third longitudinal study, my favorite, followed middle-aged civil servants in the UK for 10 years, and found those who were likely to get bored correlated with a significant increase in the risk of mortality!
Now, we're not saying boredom kills, but scientists are saying, crushing boredom seems to force humankind to deal with that even when doing so might be harmful.
Which kinda seems counter-evolutionary, right?
Why would we evolve something which causes us to die sooner, start smoking or drinking for no reason, or perform risky thrill-seeking behaviors?
Well, Evolutionary Psychologists believe that it has to do with curiosity.
"Curiosity is the cure to boredom."
That curiosity moved us off the drudgery of the everyday and into trying new things, it kept us alive and stimulated our brains!
That curiosity is reflected in the saying, "curiosity killed the cat," sure we might come to harm, but our pushing might make us better too!
Studies done with people who are encouraged into ennui, end up finding vast creative resources.
Being constantly entertained and stimulated isn't great for the brain any more than a lack of activity would be.
Boredom, or a lull in stimulation, might seem terrible to start, but it's actually fantastically mentally beneficial.
In a British study, people encouraged into ennui while in the lab, were given menial tasks.
Half were told they had to copy numbers out of a telephone book, and then had to think of things to do with two styrofoam cups; the other half just got the cups.
Those who were asked to copy numbers first, were way more creative, said the scientists.
Boredom allows for mind-wandering and daydreaming!
It allows us to organize our thoughts and dwell and mull things over.
Boredom is like anything, too much of a good thing can lead us to take unnecessary risk, but without boredom we'd all just be boring people.
So looks like my Mom was wrong, but only a bit.
Sometimes I'll turn off my music and just people-watch on the train during my commute, or I put down my book and look at the clouds when I'm out and about.
You'll be surprised what your brain comes up with to do!
Do you ever try just… being bored?
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