The hidden treasures of boredom

May 28, 2024by Editorial Team
The bore spice

It is time to shed old thoughts and stop shunning one's child when she is in a state of inaction, struck by boredom and ennui. Who knows, that may be the epiphanic moment that can trigger an outstanding burst of creativity!

Historical bearings

In our fast-paced world where it can be tempting to seek constant entertainment, boredom often receives a bad rap. However it can be most intriguing to know that boredom could actually fuel the most incredible creations. History bears evidence that the greatest inventors stumbled upon their ground-breaking ideas precisely because they allowed themselves to experience boredom.Archimedes had discovered the principles of buoyancy while idly lounging in a bath; Sir Isaac Newton’s contemplation of an apple falling from a tree that led him to formulate the laws of gravity.

The Science at work

But how does boredom lead to brilliance? Research suggests that when our minds lack external stimulation, the brain’s default mode kicks into gear. It triggers daydreaming, introspection, and self-reflection which are all vital components of the creative process. Boredom allows our thoughts to wander freely, connecting seemingly unrelated ideas and forging new neural pathways.

Mundane motivations

Kate Nash, the exemplary musician and actress, has explained that the boredom she experienced as a teenager led her to start writing her music. “I wrote a lot because there wasn’t much else going on in my life.”

In 1990 JK Rowling was taking a delayed train back to London alone, the image of a scrawny, bespectacled young boy popped into her head. “I didn’t have a pen and was too shy to ask anyone for one on the train, which frustrated me at the time,” she said in a 2016 interview. “But when I look back it was the best thing for me. It gave me the full four hours on the train to think up all the ideas for the book.” If she’d had an iPad or an endless Twitter feed to scroll through instead of staring out of the window, Harry Potter might have disappeared out of her mind as quickly as he arrived.

In fact, the recent worldwide lockdown, other than giving the world experiences in boredom, has also given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study its effects. There is evidence by British psychologist Sandi Mann whose research has shown that bored groups are better at accomplishing creative tasks.

“When we’re bored, there are two key things happening in our mind,” says John Eastwood, a renowned psychologist. There develops a sense of desperation to do something when the mental capacity is lying fallow. That is when one is itching to engage one’s mind. In fact, Eastwood argues that boredom is not in itself creative. It’s what it leads to that is important.Eastwood mentions, “Boredom triggers mind-wandering, and then mind wandering leads to creativity”. This state is again variously referred to by Mason Currey as ‘spacing out of the mind, with a diffused focus that allows your mind to wander elsewhere. ‘


Manifesting the creative benefits of boredom

Boredom provides a valuable opportunity for cognitive rest. As the mind engages in spontaneous, free-flowing unstructured thinking,it leads to innovation and creativity and fantastic breakthroughs. It presents moments of ennui when the mind is naturally inclined to seek stimulation and thus may gravitate towards problem-solving activities.Boredom can also help hone one’s resilience and grit. Further, during moments of mental disquiet, individuals are prompted to search for meaning and purpose that can lead to profound self realisation.

About the author

The article has been contributed by Adrija Saha from Auxilium Convent School, Dumdum.

Get free advice from Global Experts on how your institution can be Future Ready with Experiential Education through S.T.E.A.M.

Get free advice from Global Experts on how your institution can be Future Ready with Experiential Education through S.T.E.A.M.

Contact us
+91 983 148 0116
Global Presence


© 2020 ISTEAM Research Private Limited | GDPR Privacy Policy | Child Protection Policy

× How can I help you?