Photo Credit: Soroush Karimi,
Photo Credit: Soroush Karimi,

While it’s true that technology has greatly improved the baseline quality of human life, it hasn’t come without its concessions. An increasing access to technology has been mirrored in an increasing dependency on it.

Think about the last time you were waiting. How long was it before you were scrolling through something or other on your iPhone? Not with the mindful intent to watch or read something, but rather as a default setting to fill in the gap of nothingness?

This issue has risen alongside the tidal wave of technology in the last 10 years. Now, it feels like it blindsided us as it became the new normal.

If I was to put on my imaginary Doctor hat I would call this condition CNSS, or “Constant Need for Stimulus Syndrome.” We, as a society, have a paralyzing fear of empty spaces. We’ve become so accustomed to constantly being entertained that any scenario without stimulus feels almost acutely boring.

Chafing Against “Perfect”

I’m guilty of this to the tenth degree. I’ll let food get cold while I scroll through Netflix to make sure I have entertainment while I eat. I’ll sit in my parked car, unwilling to start my drive until I have the perfect song or podcast to listen to. Hell, a lot of the times I won’t even start folding my laundry without something on in the background.

For me it’s not only about finding something to fill the void of stimulus. It’s about finding the perfect something. Constant access to a limitless selection of options keeps me scrolling. As I scroll I feel myself getting more and more mentally itchy and agitated as I search for the “right” thing. The longer I obsess over what to play or listen to, the least satisfied I am with the eventual choice.

That had become my default rhythm. I was so terrified of empty space it was costing me mental energy just to fruitlessly search for something to fill the gap. That’s until I came across Manoush Zomorodi’s Ted Talk “How Boredom Can Lead To Your Most Brilliant Ideas.” I was enamored with how she talked about the lost art of daydreaming and how it sparked our creative process. So I decided to try being bored.

I Began To Look Forward To Boredom

Floating through daydreams we’re able to really jumpstart some creative processes I was experiencing blocks with. It felt as if, with all this empty space I was floating around in, I could take a look at my work from a new perspective. I began to look forward to boredom’s boost to my creativity.

Boredom had a contribution to my well-being as well. It had an immensely positive effect on the mentally itchy feeling I got when trying to avoid it. I was receiving far less visual and auditory stimulus, but I also didn’t feel the urge to quick-draw my iPhone out of my pocket. The realization snuck up on me one day as I sat in a waiting room. I found myself far more content than anytime I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.

It took me a bit to figure out the incompatibilities between the situation. Here I was wholeheartedly engaging in boredom– a feeling I’d usually avoided at all cost– but I was perfectly content with it. I realized it was because I chose the feeling rather than having it catch up with me after attempts to avoid it.

No matter what it is, it always feels good to align your intentions with your actions. By choosing boredom consciously, I felt comfortable in the void of stimulus instead of frantically trying to fill it up with noise. Choosing boredom made it less boring.