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Boredom as a Superpower

Posted on:June 30, 2023 at 12:25 PM

We become bored evolutionarily due to resource gathering calculations. We check how much value/interest we have in the current task, look around at what’s easy and full of resources around us, and make a subconscious calculation if it’s time to move on or stay.

This makes a ton of sense when hunting/gathering in the wilderness. But we were not evolved to live happy lives in our very strange modern world. Standing in line at the grocery store our ancestors survival built into our DNA tells us we really really need to pull out our phone. For what? Doesn’t matter. We’re bored and that’s not ok.

We are all on a spectrum here, from ADD diagnosis to zen monk, but with practice anyone can get better.

1. Stop lying to yourself about multitasking

Yes you can chew gum and walk at the same time. But learning and engaging especially in social settings take a ton of brain power. It’s hard work. Local short term memory and several parts of the brain are all required. You cannot do this with more than one thing at a time. Practice “single-tasking” frequently to build unlock this ability.

2. Lean-in to moments of boredom

Feel deeply what’s happening in your body and mind in moments of boredom. Where is it coming from and how does it manifest. Is it making your breath and heart rate faster? Maybe a knot in your gut? Do you feel fidgety or restless? Feel without reacting and notice that everything is ok. It’s difficult to get distracted when calm.

3. Re-define your distractions

Re-evaluate if the activity you’re doing that is getting so boring is actually the distraction itself! In other words, should you be in that standup meeting? Are you distracted from your family by a boring work meeting? Prioritize and think deeply, what is it all for, what are you spending your life on? For each thing you do that’s boring, you’re giving up the opportunity to do thousands of things that are not.