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The Importance of Boredom

Shalev
Shalev
Hey folks! Long time no newsletter. I had a good reason to skip a newsletter or two, but that lead to me completely forgetting about it and losing the habit altogether. After much demand from chat, I’m back at it.

I want to discuss something that has intrigued me for a while: boredom, and how useful it actually is.
As a society, we are fighting a war that’s stacked against us. Our smartest minds are working day and night in companies like Facebook, Netflix, and Youtube, to figure out how to use the primal parts of our brain against us. Their job is to develop an app that can best capture our attention. It’s no wonder we have an epidemic of internet addiction. Our attention is a valuable resource and we’re constantly giving it away.
I, like many of us, am addicted to my phone and the internet as a whole. I struggle to go for more than a few moments without some sort of stimulation. Whenever there is a moment I might be bored, I pull out my phone to get my fix. But it hasn’t always been this way.
Last year I was sitting on the bus and I noticed something interesting. I looked around and saw everybody on their phones except for one elderly man. He was just patiently waiting for his stop, without anything to distract him. At that moment I realized how difficult that would be for me to do, and that I’m not the only one.
When we are constantly being stimulated and entertained we lose the ability to sit with our thoughts. What this means is, our brains are used to a constant, high level of stimulation. No wonder people are having trouble focusing.
Going from the constant dopamine hits of social media to studying is a difficult task in and of itself. But even after we’ve started studying, our brains are unsatisfied with the level of stimulation. Sooner or later, our minds start to wander and we get the urge to check our phones.
Our study material is being compared to the heroin of mental stimulation. Then people question why they’re procrastinating and aren’t able to focus.
I believe that people highly underestimate the impact of their actions outside of studying on their ability to focus, learn, and retain information. This is evident in aspects of our lives such as sleep, nutrition, and the state of our environment. But I believe it also extends to our relationships with our phones and computers.
How much easier would it be to focus if the alternative was boredom? I’m not sure, but I think it’s a question that we should all look into. Doing nothing might be the best way to be more productive. See you next week.
PS: There’s a video by Veritasium that talks about a similar concept, you should check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKPwKFigF8U
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Shalev
Shalev

Hi Everyone, I'm Shalev a 3rd year medical student studying in Italy. This is my email newsletter, every Friday I'll send out an email with a new idea I had, something I learned, or something I found interesting. I'd love to hear back from you if you have any thoughts about something I wrote.

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