Being Bored Will Make You A Better Person


A rather counter-intuitive study has found that boredom could actually make people better themselves, by encouraging them to perform meaningful activities like giving blood.

According to the Guardian, psychologists have found that boredom makes people feel “meaningless,” causing them to look for ways to make more of an impact, even after whatever boring thing they’re doing is over. Study author Wijnand van Tilburg says,

Boredom can paradoxically be a very strong motivator for people to seek out unpleasant yet meaningful tasks, such as blood donations, against meaningless but pleasant behaviour. It does not promote engagement in meaningless yet pleasant behaviour.

He adds,

Donating to charity or signing up for blood donations could not have increased the level of stimulation, interest, arousal, novelty, fun, or challenge experienced during the boring activity, simply because the boring activity finished before prosocial behavior was assessed. Therefore, we show that boredom affects attitudes and behaviour even after the boring activity, if people have not had the chance to re-establish meaningfulness.

David Foster Wallace, is that you? Seriously, it sort of seems like this study was done on people without access to the Internet, because when I’m bored I usually do things like typing “ghost videos” into YouTube. Then again, Adrian Savage of has a persuasive interpretation:

Boredom is nearly always essential to creativity. It isn’t true that creativity is mostly sparked by having a specific problem to be solved. It’s far more likely to arise because the person is bored with the way something has been done a thousand times before and wants to try something new.

It’s true that boredom was the reason I started telling stories to myself as a kid, which is what I do for a living now, so it’s possible that being bored is formative. And sitting there all Winnie-the-Pooh-style being like “think, think, think” isn’t always the best way to solve a problem — sometimes you need the kind of flash of insight that only comes while you’re, say, waiting at the DMV. It’s nice that for some people, these flashes can be the encouragement they need to perform charitable acts. My childhood boredom led me to come up with a six-foot-tall eyeball with arms and legs — but I guess we all better the world in different ways.

Boredom Is Good For You, Study Claims [Guardian]

Image via Elena Elisseeva/

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