Some of you are ready to strangle your kids if they complain about being bored one more time, but you should have a little grace. Humans stink at being bored.
Researchers at the University of Virginia recruited hundreds of volunteers for a study. Subjects sat in a room with no books, no phones, no pens, no televisions—nothing—and given fifteen minutes to do nothing—except think.
The subjects hated the experience.
They hated it so much that a follow up experiment was created.
Subjects were placed in a lab room alone for fifteen minutes again, but this time, they were given a button that would administer a painful electric shock to themselves if they wanted to.
After just a few minutes of boredom, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to shock themselves rather than sit alone with their thoughts.
(I guess this is proof that women are smarter than men!)
They knew the shock would hurt.
They had said before that they had no desire to experience a shock.
Participants even said in a questionnaire that they would pay money to avoid being shocked.
But when it came down to it, they’d rather be shocked than bored.
Bertrand Russell said that “Boredom is the vital problem of the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.”
His quote reminds me of David, who was at home on his roof while the men were off to war when he noticed Bathsheba next door.
What’s the antidote? Learn to work and learn to rest. Learn to be present wherever we are. Learn to be curious and engaged and comfortable in our own minds.