Why Boredom is Good For You

Why Boredom is Good For You


Part of this video was sponsored by LastPass. Stick around to the end for a word from our sponsor. In a recent study participants were placed in a room for between 6 and 15 minutes. They were given nothing except a button that they knew would shock them if they pressed it. They were asked to entertain themselves with their thoughts, but they could self administer the shock if they so chose. So what happened? Well, 25% of women and 67% of men shocked themselves. This is despite the fact that they had previously told the experimenters that they would pay money to avoid the shock. Apparently they’d rather experience physical pain than just be bored; to have nothing to keep them occupied but their thoughts. But they are not alone. Around 95% of American adults report participating in some leisure activities over the past 24 hours. But only 17% say they spent any time at all just relaxing and thinking, because that apparently is boring, and being bored is unpleasant. So what is boredom? Well contrary to popular belief, it’s not when you have absolutely nothing to do. It’s just when none of the options you have available to you appeal to you. Boredom is characterized by a lack of concentration, restlessness, but also feeling lethargic. It’s really a state of being underwhelmed. And there are now more ways than ever to avoid boredom. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, not to mention my chronic news I have waiting in line, sitting in a coffee shop, stopped at a traffic light. Many people reach for their phones to stave off boredom, and nowhere is sacred. Do you ever just let yourself be bored? No, no, I generally don’t. But are we losing anything by avoiding boredom? Well, scientific research says yes, and what we’re losing is important. When you’re bored your mind wanders. That’s only natural. The state of boredom is one where your attention is not focused on anything in particular. Researchers have shown this mind wandering is useful for creativity. They gave study participants a random boring task. The most boring one: reading the phone book. Then, they asked participants to be creative; generate as many ideas as they could for what you could do with a plastic cup. Those in the most boring read the phone book condition generated the most creative solutions compared to less bored controls. A major reason many researchers suspect that we experience boredom is because it gives you an indicator of your current state. I mean, if you find yourself feeling bored, you know something about that situation isn’t working for you. Let me ask you this. When you’re in class and you’re a bit bored do you ever just pull out your phone and have a look at stuff? Yeah. All the time. So the paradox of boredom is that it makes you feel tired, sluggish and just disinterested. But it may actually spur you to action. It may get you to make changes that would be positive for your life. And changes like getting this guy’s legs out of my face. That would be perfect. In the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively and socially rewarding experiences. Boredom is both a warning that we’re not doing what we want to be doing, and a push that motivates us to switch goals and projects. Studies have also shown that boredom may make you more altruistic. Perhaps the acute sense of aimlessness you experience when you’re bored gets out of control, and makes you question what you’re doing with your life as a whole. But 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. You know, studies designed to induce boredom have shown that more bored participants are more likely to donate to charity, or to give blood. Can I ask what led you to donate blood today? I had free time in my hands. You know, just, waiting for 2 hours, an hour and a half or so. So apparently the opportunity to do meaningful, even if unpleasant activities have more value if you’re bored than if you’re not. Similarly, this aimless state seems to cultivate thoughts about what you want to do with your life. To think of your life as a story and consider where you want it to go in the future. This is called autobiographical planning. When given tasks that only use a fraction of mental capacity, study participants frequently thought of the future and their plans for it. In this way being bored is essential for goal-setting. If your brain is always consumed with other stimuli, you’ll rarely ponder the bigger picture and set long-term goals for yourself and consider how to achieve them. Does a phone get rid of your boredom? Yeah, actually, thinking about it, it does. So every time you’re waiting for something, you have a decision to make which seems like a tiny one. Pull out your phone for a few seconds or minutes, or just be bored; experience only your thoughts. It seems like an insignificant decision. And if you don’t give it much thought the obvious action is to see what’s new on your app of choice And in making that decision you are alleviating a moment of boredom. But you are also likely making yourself less creative, less altruistic, less likely to assess your current state and less likely to set goals for your future. In short, you are the real world example of someone shocking themselves to avoid the unpleasantness of boredom. Except in your case, the pain goes much deeper to the very nature of who you are, and who you will become. So think carefully before pressing that button. So, being bored is apparently something our brains need to do. Something our brains don’t need to do, is remember lots of random passwords. Which is why the sponsor of this video is LastPass. LastPass is a password manager that offers unlimited password storage plus free sync across all your devices, and password breach alerts. That way you never have to remember another password or write it down, look for one, forget your passwords, reset them. All of that hassle is just pushed aside and you can put your passwords on autopilot with LastPass. And that way you can free up your valuable brain space for just being bored and thinking about your life rather than remembering your passwords. Now, LastPass has multi-factor authentication which is super important because it keeps your accounts secure. It also interfaces with Microsoft and Yubikey’s multi-factor authentication. And one feature I love about LastPass is it allows you to share, safely and securely, your passwords with other people who may need them for certain accounts. That’s a very handy feature. So if you want to check out LastPass, click on the link in the description.

100 comments

  1. I feel like this would be a good video to help people with drug addictions. I used to smoke marijuana every day and i stopped smoking (as regularly) because i wasn't doing it for a specific reason anymore, i was doing it because i was bored.
    The reason we take any psychoactive drug, is to get a more interesting experience out of a situation than we would have without being under the influence. This video gives purpose to that boredom of not being high.

  2. this a good reason to do exercise on the spot to get out of your head. Get spontaneous, meditate and imagine. See the future video Tramwaypods.ca

  3. So I saw the 1st minute 2 days ago and right now I’m off social media and use it on a very limited time 30 minutes a day only on the explore for updates on studies such as graphene spirulina magic mushrooms and recipes and well earlier today my mind was wandering and observing people thinking about me the space around me I felt like I’ve been missing this out because I always went on my phone and thought about every post on instagram instead of my actual life but yeah please try this out people phones are so helpful but limit yourself guys I’m out wish y’all the best!

  4. I started implementing those things before i even watched the video what he says in the video is true through my personal experience boredom is good being bored can widen your imagination observe your surrounding, analysing the information to build a conclusion and making decisions based on the information that you get. Those decisions can be life changing, can help solve problems and turn your life around it. Always chose to be bored than checking notifications And you will be better than 90% of the population.

  5. my thoughts are nightmarish. i always start remembering things i haven't done today. It also brings back every cringy moment in my life.

  6. I don't like being alone with my thoughts…
    My mind tends to take to some really dark places .. non-selfharming dark places…

    ..and I hate going there because I like what I'm seeing there…

  7. This is legit a TED talks – level idea. I'm really amazed to this.. another reason to stick with your channel and let my ideas "wander".

    BTW, you should definitely go to TED talks and speak about this, Derek. it's worth the shot because there's the place where i look for ideas and concept like this and people will actually listen and appreciate more of this..

  8. please someone explain me this: i never ever get bored. my thoughts are simply amusing activity, i'd say. my head is always full of colorful ideas and interesting questions i try to answer and hypotheses. i'm one of the most creative people i know, if anyone wondered and part of that time is used for introspection. one fault – the time passes fast as duck and i can't do much about it

  9. So, does this mean that the percentage of bored people is less than the people who are actively involved in any other task in terms of depression?

  10. The most advertising award goes to… to be honest its because of google you all have to do some ads on YouTube if the video sharing services were dominated by someone else the culture would have been so different and good.

  11. This is so true. My wife is listening to youtube in the shower, while cooking, while cleaning, while doing laundry, while washing dishes. While doing anything.
    Me on the other hand is the exact opposite. I do nothing else apart from those tasks. And they're boring, but my mind starts to wonder and that's when I have the best ideas about my life! I often tell her to try it once, but seems many people are stuck in their ways.

  12. a little electric shock is not pain… at all. daunting, intimidating maybe. but once tried you realise its nothing. but every sane dude should have pressed the damn button. it worries me there are over 30% sissies out there that would rather sit there for 10minutes all proud like that they were too cowardly to press the button. damn they must have been bored. serves them right, probably very boring people with no sense of adventure or challenge.

  13. Indeed. Mind wandering is when I have the most insane ideas. However, I didn't come up with those ideas, they came to me at their will. This may also explain why kids are more creative because their minds are less occupied.

  14. I actively choose to not go on my phone.

    If anything it’s helped me take some time out of my day to focus on my breathing, appreciate my surroundings, and improve my self esteem.

    Thanks for the vid~

  15. Depends on what your doing on your phone for entertainment I like to watch videos that you can learn from not just stupid crap on fb

  16. I think boredom is evolutional mechanism that pushes us to explore world, hence, we are so easily affected by it, because curiosity and activity is one of significant reasons for our ancestors evolutional success.

  17. Boredom is good, I sometimes (when waiting) kind of enjoy it. However , there is another side to it, when people that are at their proper job or activity they do not stop and think I am bored. They just know that they aren't. So I guess there's a balance. 😀

  18. As long as I don’t want to be altruistic, there’s no problem in avoiding boredom because I can become more creative in different way.

  19. Well i am bired because of the lack of social interaction
    I'm always on my phone twitter fb snap …. are thw things that make me bored
    I dont know how to socialise i'm tired of that

  20. Without boredom I would not be a Youtuber. Or a pilot. Or a photographer. Or a musician. The habit of chasing boredom with any good degree of just simple concentration on a subject of interest will improve one’s thinking potential drastically. The mental state of being “bored” is truly a physical choice. It is a decision to be lazy. Choosing to allow creativity into the chasm of boredom will be far more constructive and satisfying than drawing the smartphone and trying to change one’s state of mind.

  21. Truely agreed like during my exams i kept my phone shiwed off for 15days it was hard but during that time i had nothing to do so i motivated myself to what i wanted to be and result is better than what i have everytimr

  22. I ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on a long boring highway just so that I can have time to hear the thoughts inside my head.

  23. Very good video. I find myself 'bored' not that I don't have anything to do or any hobbies, I go into deep thought. I am one to think and plan my future, always looking ahead.

  24. I find it easiest to be "bored" while sitting in the shower and I find it incredibly difficult to not be "bored" while in the shower.

  25. Although I do believe that cell phones does kill boredom, I also think a huge factor of people being on their phone in public is to not look awkward just staring into space. I've tried it and many times I've felt forced to just look at my phone to avoid the awkward sense.

  26. Ya thats true. I wouldn't see this video if i wasnt bored. Just because i was bored i now know that boredom is good for me. Thanks to me for being bored.

  27. The irony of this video will be the tiny amount out of the 1.1 million viewers who actually finished watching it until the end. Very interesting video.

  28. As a Compulsive Overeater, I used to eat if I got bored. It was one of my strongest triggers. Over the last 5 years, I have worked on changing that. I switched from food to be a Sponsor in a 12 step program. So I changed my addiction form food, to helping people.

    It looks like now in order to help people better I need how to learn to allow myself some boredom. Thanks

  29. That's my secret. I'm always bored. Oh am i smiling & having fun? Nope not anymore, meet my friendo, anxiety. 😉

    Crap, i'm so depressed and disatisfied with my life.

  30. Just a few months ago I learnt how to be bored, I found it so refreshing, relaxing and wonderful.
    I am glad that I have experienced it even in the very advanced and technological world.

  31. I hear you but we must also take into account the possibility of technology being one of the methods to partake in modern wonderment. It doesn’t have to be an avoidance behavior or a defense mechanism. It can simply be that we’ve conditioned the general public to function in this manner and are then looking at it from a fomo perspective. Being curious about photoshop vs research is a great example. Lastly It’s not all gamers. There’s a bit of a stigma to consider as well.

  32. honestly this test is not that good lol .. i dont think you press the button out of boredom its out of curiosity to how strong is the shock going to be. 67% of men in this study pressed the button , which is like a male animal testing the grounds vs an alpha male.

  33. Boredom aka meditation. Boredom is a choice, use the time to reflect and just realize that your alive. That sounds strange but if you think about it, it will make sense.The greatest minds in history were solitary people.

  34. Ok but, when I'm bored, and i "let my mind wonder" it often just turns into an anxiety talk with myself lol

    Also how does it count if you're watching documentaries on your phone or short "analysis" videos on YT when bored? That's still kind of broadening up your perspective and maybe even encouraging critical thinking.

  35. Yes I’m bored with spanish language makes me bored and learn from language speaks…. I am bored because same life as holidays Halloween and Christmas makes sense. No one talk about fun or talk. Hang out with friends or family makes boring people😢 yes you need happy with person life because it’s good healthy and lifestyle.. I’m bored with my family spanish families nothing to share talk about fun and laugh like funny things.. this is why I need video game not boring just fun to play with friends or outside of panic and romantic fun stories about life love life forever not boring:( boring is a “ hammer “ means nothing to fun or funny 😪 because I don’t like boring with language much they are pay attention and hurt about emotions keep crying because is a bored 😐 that’s true 😞😢

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