If you’re a parent then you’ve inevitably heard the phrase, “I’m bored” uttered at least once in the last week. While the words might send you looking for a new activity, game or book to keep your kids entertained, next time you might want to step back and just let it play out. According to one expert, that boredom can result in brilliance.
In her new book, Bored and Brilliant, Manoush Zomorodi, the host and managing editor of WNYC’s “Note to Self” podcast, argues that we all need to experience some boredom to achieve greatness. Zomorodi consulted with neuroscientists while researching her book and learned that there was a scientific explanation for why she felt most creative when she was bored. Studies show that the brain’s synapses start firing in different ways when a person is involved in monotonous tasks. This explains why you often have your most brilliant ideas while showering or brushing your teeth.
Zomorodi did a TED Talk on the same subject where she explained the process in detail, “I learned that in the default mode is when we connect disparate ideas, we solve some of our most nagging problems, and we do something called ‘autobiographical planning.’ This is when we look back at our lives, we take note of the big moments, we create a personal narrative, and then we set goals and we figure out what steps we need to take to reach them.”
In today’s connected fast-moving world, boredom is often seen as something in need of a quick cure, but the truth is that being bored has an important role to play. The next time your kids complain about being bored, encourage them to embrace that feeling instead of trying to eliminate it. Let them spend some time doing absolutely nothing and they might learn to think more creatively.
What do you do when your kids say, “I’m bored”? Tell us in the comments below.