Perhaps my title gave it away but staying motivated has not been my strong suit lately, and I’m sure many can relate. I have always said that I only write when motivation or inspiration strikes, and that has been lacking for a few months now (hence the reason I have not blogged since April). I don’t like to blame external factors for my present feelings because I like to take ownership of how I feel and use that agency to promote positive change within myself, but I would be wrong to say that the global pandemic has not caused us all to feel dragged down. How could it not? Globally, our lives have been transformed and what was once action has now often turned into stillness as we can’t do much of what we used to. But I’m writing this now, because I feel motivated by this stillness. This newfound motivation was ignited by this TED Talk I watched by Manoush Zomorodi, a video I was required to watch for one of my courses, it’s funny how the things you would least expect impact you the most.
Although I would highly recommend you watch it for yourself, I will tell you that this talk presents scientific evidence supporting that we find “brilliance in boredom“.
But what does this mean?
When we are constantly moving from task to task, especially on our Smartphones, we leave ourselves no space, no cracks to be still, to be bored. Maybe you’re eating and scrolling through Instagram or perhaps riding the bus while tweeting. Whenever you think you’re multi-tasking, science shows what you’re really doing is forcing your brain not only to decrease its attention span but to drain its valuable energy by switching your focus from one task to another at a frighteningly rapid pace, so what happens when you just stop? What happens when instead of eating while editing your next Instagram picture or snapping your friends, you just eat. Or, when you’re walking, you raise your head up from your phone and you just walk?
In her talk, Zomorodi shares a neurologist’s findings which are that in fact, when you are *quote on quote* bored, thinking or daydreaming, your brain is actually accessing thoughts beyond the conscious. This feeling, which we perceive as negative because of the attention economy in which we live is actually, our “default mode” from which our most creative, innovative ideas arise. In this “bored” state, we’re able to look back at our lives, create a personal narrative of our past and set goals for our future.
Interestingly enough, this talk occurred in 2017, but it seems all too fitting given the imposed boredom this global pandemic has instilled within us, doesn’t? Perhaps this information isn’t as mind-blowing for you as it was for me, habits are hard to change and most of us will probably continue our phone habits, but for those who dare to feel inspired by this just as much as I was, use this talk, this post, as a reminder to not only slow down but to allow yourself to be “bored”, don’t feel frustrated by it, channel that “boredom”, that stillness, feel motivated by it, because in fact, as Zomorodi tells us, by doing “nothing” you are actually being your most productive, creative self.
Of course, I’m not suggesting we spend the day twiddling our thumbs and hoping for sparks of genius to overcome us, you can be busy, but when you’re doing a task, do it fully, be present. If you need to check your phone for emails, “do it and be done”, but if it’s to distract yourself, to waste time, to avoid important, challenging tasks, choose something else, a stretch, a walk, because “if we don’t decide when to use technology, technology will (as it already has), decide for us “.