How Boredom Can Lead To Your Most Brilliant Ideas
I just watched a great TED Talk by Manoush Zomorodi: How Boredom Can Lead To Your Most Brilliant Ideas. Zomorodi explores what happens to our mind when we get bored. Or, more importantly: What happens to us if we never get bored? According to neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists, it turns out that when you get bored, you ignite a network in your brain called the “default mode.” So our body goes on autopilot while we’re folding the laundry or we’re walking to work, but actually that is when our brain gets really busy. We solve some of our most nagging problems, and we do something called “autobiographical planning.” This is when we look back at our lives, take note of the big moments, create a personal narrative, and then set goals and figure out what steps we need to take to reach them.
The “Bored and Brilliant” Challenge
Zomorodi actually held a “Bored and Brilliant” challenge. Her results and feedback from the thousands of people who accepted the challenge was incredible, especially from the younger generation. “Some of them told me that they didn’t recognize some of the emotions that they felt during challenge week, because, if you think about it, if you have never known life without connectivity, you may never have experienced boredom,” shares Zomorodi.
Researchers at USC studied teenagers who are on social media while they’re talking to their friends or doing homework. They found that two years down the road, these teenagers were less creative and imaginative about their own personal futures and about solving societal problems, like violence in their neighborhoods. And we really need this next generation to be able to focus on some big problems: climate change, economic disparity, and massive cultural differences. No wonder CEOs in an IBM survey identified creativity as the number one leadership competency.
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A decrease in creativity is dangerous in our lives, professionally and personally. Limit your time on your smart phones, tablets, and social media outlets. Make a commitment. Schedule down time on your calendar at least three times a day; early morning, middle of the afternoon, and before bed. We need to protect our peaceful idle time, to let our minds rest, reset, be reinvigorated, rejuvenated, and just daydream. Boredom truly can lead to brilliance.
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