Instant gratification decreases the power of boredom

By Samantha Bradsky | Journalist

I grew up believing that if you’re bored it’s because you’re boring. You are asking the world to entertain you rather than entertain the world. Although to some extent true, this belief fails to recognize the usefulness of boredom.

Boredom is often seen as the antithesis of productivity: a glassy gaze in the distance or a restless itch deep in your mind. What if boredom was actually a key to mastery? What if having access to constant entertainment and instant gratification damaged the part of our brain that can appreciate the boredom it takes to gain mastery?

Boredom can be defined as “the state of feeling disinterested in one’s surroundings, of having nothing to do or of feeling that life is boring”. However, studies have shown that if done right, boredom can aid creativity, productivity, problem solving, and mental health.

Today’s culture has forced people to believe that faster is better; it has forced people to succumb to the world of “overnight hacks” and “instant results”. Food gets to you faster, packages arrive overnight and providers take advantage of the consumer’s desire for immediate gratification. Illuminated Apple logos light up classrooms and screens light up faces. Now people are experiencing ghost phone vibrations and shorter attention spans. When was the last time you sat in a waiting room and saw people not looking at their phones? Maybe you were too busy looking at your phone to notice it.

According to Sandi Mann, A psychology lecturer and renowned boredom researcher, the cultural attachment to our phones both destroys our ability to be bored and prevents us from truly entertaining ourselves.

The technology targets the natural human propensity for instant gratification and constant entertainment, which makes it easy to overlook the repeated efforts required to achieve long-term goals and be successful. Becoming proficient at a task requires tons of practice with incredible consistency; it requires becoming adept at practicing through the boredom of the task.

There is nothing too exciting about writing 1,000 articles one at a time to become an established author. The same goes for spending hours working on the same set of piano chords to master a particular song or doing the same set of workouts week after week. Yet this repetition is often what it takes to get the results we want.

JK Rowling rewrote the opening chapter of the first Harry Potter book 15 times. Mozart must have worked for 10 years before producing a popular piece. When Kobe Bryant was preparing for the Olympics, part of his morning routine consisted of performing 800 jumps between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.

“Your real traveler finds boredom rather pleasant than painful. It is the symbol of his freedom, of his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not only philosophically, but almost with pleasure ”, English writer and philosopher said Aldous Huxley.

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