Let's talk about one of the most feared phenomena of the 21st century.
I'm talking of course about boredom.
It feels silly or dumb to put it that way but people literally spend their entire lives running from it filling every nook and cranny with things to occupy our attention if we're going to such great lengths to avoid it.
It must be bad and obviously this is not as simple as it seems because we have by far the most entertainment at our disposal of any humans from any point in history.
According to social historian and professor of English 'Joe Morin' who has written about this topic the words bore and boredom arrived in the English language only after around 1750.
Which interestingly corresponds almost exactly with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution which brought us into the world that we live in now.
In many ways you could call it the beginning of the modern world.
With the rise of factories and office work bureaucracy and our increasing obsession with productivity.
Warren also noted that by the 19th century Charles Dickens was referring to it as if it were an illness like in his book Bleak House So it seems like our ideas about this have developed and continued to develop as time goes on all synonyms of boredom suck apathy tedium lassitude This sounds like a really terrible thing to avoid at all costs, but I have a theory Boredom can be so awful that it feels almost like it physically hurts sometimes right? Trust me.
I totally get that I feel like I need to stay occupied with creative projects more or less all the time or else I feel like I start to go crazy This is a personal struggle of mine because I know that just staying busy Is yet another way to remain distracted and to fulfill this desire to be productive? While not necessarily accomplishing anything at all.
I've had the thought that maybe boredom is an evolutionary Trait that is a part of all of us as a way to incite us to engage in our environments You know to find things to do just to make stuff happen And again, there's this really fine line between engaging intentionally in your life and just finding random shit to fill your time but I've noticed an interesting thing happens when external stimuli is dramatically reduced and that itch that Boredom starts to creep in.
I think about my mind almost like an enormous hard drive with decades of imagery and sounds And memories and thoughts and emotions and the occasional dank meme :).
Had to throw it in there And so when I'm bored in many ways like when I go to sleep, I feel like my mind goes to work Sorting and connecting and imagining it feels like kids do this 24/7 right for a couple of reasons I think partially kids just have less responsibilities and therefore a lot more space to do this kind of thing But I also think that kids haven't quite been as conditioned by society to follow the dictates of What we think we should and we have to do but maybe boredom has something to offer all of us maybe it's not such a bad idea to let your mind and naturally do its thing to wander and To watch it with curiosity and maybe have a pen and paper not so far away to report the things that stand out too many of the best ideas I've ever had like ever ever in my Entire life have happened when I'm doing things that most of us would consider boring But I'm just feeling bored in general when I'm washing the dishes, right? when my body goes on autopilot and lets my mind zoom thousands of miles away to countries and people and Experiences that I had years ago, the fragments of reality that no longer exists outside the confines of my hippocampus or two scenarios that Will never exist beyond the confines of my imagination in fact I think the more space you give yourself to do this the more you open yourself up to creativity the more Ideas start to pour in I strongly believe this is why I get so inspired when I spend time out in nature You can't force Creativity you can't force good ideas I think you can just set up the right circumstances and the right environment and you just let it happen And I do think boredom has its role to play space to think is a gift It's not something we should all be running from the key Of course is to put these ideas into action right like writing things down There's an amazing first step.
But like you're not gonna get very far if you just that's how you're doing We all have that like uncle right or grandfather that had these amazing ideas but never brought them in – you know never manifested them and Always told you about them maybe in the hopes that you would be the one to make it happen Don't be that uncle I have found that one of the most rewarding ways to spend time alone is in engaging Deeply in creative projects when I bring these ideas to life Everybody has a different way of doing this and there's a lot of names for this out there including flow and deep work It doesn't matter.
Okay, it doesn't matter what you call it What matters is that? You make this a part of your life? there's this incredible TED talk by Joseph Gordon-Levitt that I saw at some point last year where he puts into words an Idea that perfectly complements the message that I'm trying to convey here Attention is a very powerful thing and it works in two ways You can get attention and you can pay attention but there's a very big difference between the two they are not the same thing In his words: “if your creativity is driven by a desire to get attention, you are never going to be creatively fulfilled” It is undeniably in my opinion better to focus on giving attention than to focus on getting it worrying Never going to fill your cup.
I say this fully aware that I have a long way to go in Truly understanding that I still waste so much energy worrying about the perfect thumbnail the perfect title or getting a big positive response and You know being loved and it's weird when I start to focus too much on that and go down that rabbit hole First of all, it makes me very imbalanced and then the negative side effects start to make themselves visible those are the times when boredom and a lack of feeling fulfilled start to make me maybe spend too much time on Instagram or do other kinds of Destructive unhealthy behavior.
This might take me a lifetime to learn it might take me more than that, but it's an amazing compass It's better to pay attention than worry about getting it.
And again, there's many ways to put this right I've heard it be said don't worry about being interesting just focus on being interested.
It's the same concept right there let your creative projects consume you let them carry you away and See where they take you this is really difficult for me as a teenager.
I think partially because I didn't think I was really good at anything, but fortunately I believe this is almost like a muscle that you can build up and Over time it can become a part of how you operate.
Check this out.
The great London plague went from 1665 to 1666 and forced a young Sir Isaac Newton to leave Cambridge and spend a period of roughly two years with his mom in Lincolnshire pieces by Anthony story and Milo Keynes revealed that he was apparently Incredibly mathematically creative in those years there is debate over the exact details of the story But it is believed that it was an observation of an apple or apples falling in his mother's garden that helped inspire him to Develop his law of universal gravitation he himself recalled that all this was in the two plague years of 1665 and 1666 for in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention and minded mathematics and philosophy more than at any time since It's incredible what boredom time and space can do Okay, so I think it might be helpful to take a moment and put everything together here because I throw out a lot of abstract Ideas, and if I'm doing my job correctly Hopefully I said something that you hadn't considered before it's funny to put it this way But I think a lot of people myself included are afraid of boredom and what it represents.
It's uncomfortable but what I'm proposing here is that maybe it's built into us for a reason and not something to mindlessly run from that's Where I think things can potentially become destructive Mindlessly running from this is how you end up using your time and energy in a poor Unintentional way and that usually looks like excessive distractions or entertainment If anything that just feels like approaching life with zero strategy and doing whatever feels good in the short term I feel like it's important to remind ourselves that life isn't the constant highlight-reel that we see online and that we almost need boring moments and boring periods to have contrast and to have mental space to spark ideas And create new neural connections.
I think the best way to beat boredom is through paying attention.
That is to say Focusing on creating things and on whatever task it is that you're doing instead of worrying about getting other people's attention This is a really tricky one especially for me because it feels like much the internet now is built around grabbing people's attention And so I would appreciate your thoughts on this in the comments and when it isn't possible to Focus entirely on what you're creating or doing because we're not machines that are built to be productive every second of every day I feel like you can even apply this to boredom itself and Pay attention and be curious about what your mind is doing at the end of the day I'm not saying boredom is good or bad and that's entirely subjective But it does seem to me like it's an important piece in this puzzle That's worth serious consideration Please consider signing up to my newsletter where I share Additional food for thought and resources that go well beyond what I share in these videos, there is no spam whatsoever I'm honestly doing it as a way to slowly become less utterly dependent on these god-forsaken algorithms, and I really enjoy writing Articulating my ideas when I get a chance to sit down and put them into words I rarely mention it nowadays but I also have a patreon page that goes a long way towards funding this project and allows me to have a team that Helps research and produce these pieces.
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