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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 it 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.
刷Facebook Twitter Instagram Snapchat YouTube
With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube,
not to mention my chronic news habit,
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?
对 科学研究证明 我们会因此而失去
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
它让你感到疲惫 懒惰 冷漠
it makes you feel tired, sluggish and just disinterested.
But it may actually spur you to action,
and 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,
错过许多情感上 认知上 社交上的有益经历
and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively and socially rewarding experiences.
Boredom is both a warning
that we’re not doing what we wanna 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?
Uhm, I have free time.
My hands, you know, just waiting for
2小时 1.5小时 我一直等着献血
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?
对 仔细考虑 它确实能做到
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’ll 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
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And that way, you can free up your valuable brain space for
just being bored and thinking about your life
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