Saturday, 28 January 2017

Learn how to be bored

Boredom is the new frontier
I was visiting my parents when we were celebrating my nephew’s birthday. Something struck me that I didn’t pay attention prior to. My nephews were distracted with their own imagination. I was thinking to myself; boys will be boys.
Then a topic of substance arose between my sister and the family.
Only until then did she announce that the boys were restricted to the use of their video games. I found this peculiar since I was observing the boys and they seemed to be occupied by their imagination and their Lego toys.
This topic intrigued me enough that I felt compelled to share it here. What I discovered was astounding at the same time not surprising.
Recent studies have concluded that in this ever so distracting environment our attention span has lessened to that of a goldfish.
Kevin McSpadden a contributor to TIME wrote in a neuroscience article in 2015;
Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.
In fact, this topic not only spawned in Time but also in every other business and science journal; Inc, Entrepreneur, Psychology Today, New York Times, IFLscience just to mention a few.
I suppose this is the new standard to which we measure ourselves up to.
The sad reality isn’t that goldfish have a greater attention alertness, but that the amount of attention we do have keeps decreasing.
I can spin this post into several ways;
On what basis is this occurring?
Why is your attention dropping and should you be worried?
Who or what can be blamed for this injustice?
How can you improve your attention awareness?
“How can you teach focus in a world that is constantly drawing our focus elsewhere?”
Or what my sister suggested and implemented with her children.
“The art of being bored.”
What does it mean to be bored?
It requires you to be aware and creative. To draw from imagination. To put aside distractive elements.
Okay, but isn’t everything a distraction? If you read a book instead of going on your iPhone to check how many likes you have on Facebook, doesn’t that cause a distraction?
Some will say, well this is a good distraction because you are stimulating your brain.
Isn’t all distraction stimulating?
I suppose the argument could be that you form a new neural connection by various applications.
For example, I just heard my phone ping and this is a distraction so I turn it on silent, but my mind is racing to find out who it was, what they wanted, and how could I serve them.
My best strategy that I implement and I think you should too, is; take control of the situation. How?
Turn all the notifications off. I was at one of my business partner’s studio and we were editing my latest Givers Group video. My partner and his business partner are working on a project, they are doing a Vlog, for those of you who don’t know what that is; video blog.
They asked me to subscribe and so without hesitation I did, then they asked me to turn on my notifications so I can be updated with their latest vlog releases, I refused. I wouldn’t turn my notifications on for anything because I watch it on my time.
Going back to my sister’s philosophy, and one I think we can all learn something from.
“I want them to learn how to be bored.”
This I found to be ever so powerful and it makes me proud to know that my sister implements full self-awareness into this topic.
Sometimes life just takes control of your actions, everything is predicated on speed and consistency.
I believe my sister wants to get rid of that zombie-like state that my nephews get into when they are playing video games.
There are benefits to playing video games, you can read about them here. Her fear is certainly not the benefits, it’s the lack of control that my nephews exhibit when they want to win another level in their episodic playing time.
Of course, the upside to being bored is tapping into the world of your imagination. It is only limited to your experience. Which means it has the resources to tap into unchartered territories.
I find myself in a rut when I apply my attention to social media, I always think to myself as did Oliver Twist in Charles Dickens production;
Please sir, I want some more.
Her solution; set a time once a week to play video games. This way the boys have something to look forward too. In the meantime, leave them to create their own distractions with physical toys, themselves, and each other.
It seems to be that anything digital is the enemy.
I would argue that it is the mind that is the enemy, and that needs to become a frenemy. Accept what is and deploy self-awareness.
Teaching young children self-awareness could possibly be the defining moment of their success in life.
The only blame that should be going on is not on the external surroundings but in the way that you think. In a nutshell; Change your thinking and you change your perception which changes your attitude and in turn changes your behavior.
Embrace boredom because that might be the last frontier to your creativethought and entry to your imagination.
To reinforce how bad it’s getting, Larry Rosen Ph.D. conducted a research study on 300 students to find where their attention was going when they studied their school work. Get the drum roll out; an average of 3 minutes of 15 minutes was going to their study, the rest, well, it was focused on nonschool work.
Of course, in his conclusion, he blames Steve Jobs for creating technology that is desirable to further manipulate and distract from our potential.
And of course, for all of you entrepreneurs, it isn’t as simple as putting your phone away and not having any distractions because your phone is the lifeblood of your business. Understand your limitations and understand that you need to put time aside to do deep work.
Any work that you do on your business is good work, and that doesn’t mean everything you do has to have an ROI. So, if it means for you to get bored in order to spark creativity without technology distractions then do so.
Thank you for reading this post on learning how and why boredom should be embraced.
To be continued….

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