Arbitrary Thoughts

Welcome to my blog! A place to write down my daily musings.
Questions are constantly asked in hopes of eventually finding answers.

My life is far from exciting, but maybe I’ll discover something new.

 

February 16 –  A Life of Happiness

It says 2:25pm on the clock above the chalkboard. In the final minutes of class Mr. McMorrow quickly mentions, “So the take home message in Schopenhauer’s essay is that if you’re truly satisfied with your life, you would never have a dull moment in life. On that note class is dismissed!” Even before he finished students were already zipping their backpacks and closing their books, ready to rush out of the classroom. As the class bell rang he suddenly remembered and exclaimed “Make sure you look on the class website for the prompt for the assignment due next Friday!” Great, another assignment to add to my agenda.

I check my phone – exactly 3:00pm. My after school routines begins when I open my pantry to get some snacks and then head to the living room to turn on my TV. At first the show seems pretty interesting, but later on that effect wears off while I eat mindlessly. It’s too bad I only come to this realization after two hours.

Next, I always turn on my computer with good intentions, but once I open my browser, I completely forget about my original intentions and start playing computer games. I definitely can’t forget to check YouTube either. I always tell myself, “It’s a good idea to relax before I start work right?” Eventually even surfing the web can becoming dull after several hours.

Once it reaches 7pm, it’s time to face the most dreaded thing of all – school work. It’s always math worksheets, textbook reading, typing up lab reports, and the list goes on and on. If there was a class that focused on video games I’m pretty sure I would ace that class. But nevertheless, I’m stuck with regular homework.

Finally, I get around to opening Mr. McMorrow’s website and read the prompt on the page:
“Due next Friday 2/23 — Write your opinion of Arthur Schopenhauer’s essay on “The Emptiness of Existence”. He believed that if life was truly fulfilling and filled with purpose we would never encounter boredom. Write at least 1.5-2 pages double space. Remember to use a proper heading and 12-point font.
It sounds simple, but because I’m extremely indecisive, I never know what I want to write. I dislike when work starts to feel repetitive and monotonous, but this is also true when I relax. Even activities that I initially think are fun start to become dull at one point. For now, I feel pretty neutral about boredom.

February 19 – Online Quizzes

While I explore the internet through my daily after school routine, I tend to end up on random websites with self-quizzes. Most of them are extremely lighthearted, such as “Which Disney character are you?” or “What kind of Superhero Power should you have?”.  In a way I’m learning a little bit about myself, but in the end it’s just for entertainment.

During my daily web surfing I came across this boredom quiz. Only twenty eight questions to go through—I just have to pick a number between one and seven and decide if I agree or not.

This was definitely not one of the lighthearted and fun quizzes though. As I scroll through these statements they all seem to have a negative connotations. Examples include “I am often trapped in situations where I have to do meaningless things” or “Many things I have to do are repetitive and monotonous”. To my surprise, I find myself agreeing with these statements. But I never felt that my life seemed so depressing. Here’s what I read at the bottom of the page when I finished:

The Boredom Proneness Scale suggests that the higher your score on the scale, the more prone you are to boredom. Your score of 121 suggests you are more likely to be prone to boredom.

Two thirds of the population score between 81 and 117.

Just 2.3% score above 135 or below 63.”

According to research, a higher score on the scale indicates that you’re likely to suffer from chronic boredom. Symptoms typical of chronic boredom are depression, anxiety, restlessness, and low performance in school. A score of 121 puts me slightly above average, so I guess I get bored a bit too easily, and I’m more likely to suffer all of these symptoms.

It’s true that I can easily become bored, but I never considered it as a type of illness. I can easily become bored with school work, and get distracted, but I always thought of it as a way to relax. Plus, once I lose interest in my distractions, I’m brought back to the work I have to finish. So when I feel bored it fosters a sense of awareness that benefits me. In a way, it helps me choose optimal decisions, and it’s definitely not serious enough for me to consider as an illness. Besides, one quiz does not define my future. At least I hope so.

February 20 – Side Effects

Procrastination and distractions usually occur when I want to avoid the monotony of school work. I’ve always viewed it in a negative way. After a long night I often tell myself “If I didn’t procrastinate, maybe I could have finished my work earlier.” The tendency to put things off and finish accomplishing work last minute always puts stress on myself. Can I even be considered as something positive?

Google is typically helpful when I ask questions I can’t answer. I opened up Google and typed “Is procrastination good?” into the search bar. The first thing that showed was an article titled The Holy Trinity of Inactivity: How Boredom, Distraction, and Procrastination are Vital to Healthy Living”. If this article speaks the truth, I can consider myself a pretty healthy person then. It’s interesting because I always thought about ways to eliminate procrastination and avoid being unproductive, but maybe I thought wrong.

“Being bored, procrastinating, and embracing distraction all help your brain function.”

The more I read this article the more surprised I become. I might have some justification for procrastinating now.

A list of reasons why boredom is good, according to this article:

  1. Boredom is a necessary filter when there’s too much information.

Reading something dull puts us in a temporary state of boredom, making us feel restless. But this state also reflects a very obvious fact. As your interest level decreases, you come to the conclusion that there is nothing new or useful to learn anymore.

  1. It leads to creative productivity.

You become more likely to pursue meaningful activities because of boredom. Losing focus as a result of avoiding dull work helps people consider a broader range of information. With a wider scope, we consider more alternative and diverse ideas that help us gain a greater insight on different innovations.

  1. It helps you to make better decisions.

Procrastination usually follows after feeling bored with work, causing our productivity level to decrease. But, the process of procrastination is important for making decisions. According to Frank Partnoy, it helps us think about the greatest amount of time to delay before taking an action or making a decision. Instead of rushing right into action, it helps us think and consider our options before we have to subject ourselves to an activity we don’t enjoy. Instantly rushing into work can instantly cause stress, but procrastinating can give people time to relax and be equally as productive later on.

There’s so much information in this article, and it definitely make me feel less ashamed about my daily distractions. But most of these points appear to be speculations rather than true facts. An author can publish whatever they want on the internet, so is it truly reliable?

February 21 – Brain Activity

“Biology – Write a short summary of a study related to the brain. 1-2 pages.”

Homework in biology class is usually relatively simple, but today’s assignment seems so time consuming. Usually I’m given simple assignments, but every once in a while my teacher assigns us short papers. I definitely don’t mind the required page length, but the most tedious part about these assignments is the researching a certain topic. Neuroscience is definitely interesting, but what specific topic am I supposed to choose? This assignment is too vague.

I spent several minutes sitting in front of my computer with Google opened, without any ideas. How can it be possible to reach boredom even though I didn’t even begin? There’s usually a scientific reason for everything, like our emotions or physical actions, or maybe someone already discovered how boredom works. So, I took a chance and typed in “boredom and the brain”, and luckily tons of links appeared.

When I reached the middle of the page of the first link I read:

“While an individual feels bored, brain activity decreases by 5%. This reduction in brain activity affected the patient’s perception of time. Several participants state that they feel restless when time seems to pass by slowly.

Although there is a slight decline in brain activity, certain regions of the brain become more active. Specific signals are exchanged between the medial prefrontal cortex in the front of the brain and the posterior cingulate and precuneus in the back of the brain. Collectively, these are the default networks of the brain. It is believed that the brain experiences stimulation in the default network to turn away from the external environment and explore within.

Thus, boredom is a paradox – in the perception of lacking stimulation, our brains are actually experiencing stimulation. Previously, I haven’t seen any concrete evidence of why boredom is helpful, but this observation supports that. With a greater sense of stimulation, it supports the idea that creative processes are created from monotony.

Researchers believe that the brain is stimulated because it’s making connections between unrelated ideas. In a more relaxed manner, boredom causes us to think of alternatives or solutions to our problems. It helps sort through information, and in a way fuels productivity.

So boredom is not a negative feeling at all—it actually seems pretty helpful instead.

February 22- Thursday Night

When I read other articles for Mr. McMorrow’s assignment on whether boredom is good, I was pretty skeptical about that I found. Sometimes I think my constant boredom may be a problem in my life. If I lose interest so quickly, how will I be able to survive the future years of school in store for me? It makes me unmotivated when I get bored, and I feel stuck because I don’t know what to do. Then again, it’s not a completely bad aspect either. Although, after reading all those articles and finding supporting scientific evidence about the positive results of boredom, I’m more convinced that I’m living a healthy lifestyle because I experience boredom.

So, my answer to Mr. McMorrow’s question is that I don’t agree with Schopenhauer’s philosophy. I constantly encounter dull moments and engage in monotonous tasks, but instead of becoming frustrated, it makes me realize that I need a break. Sometimes I go and finish easier tasks first, or I just relax and give myself time to think. It seems unproductive if I take frequent breaks, because I become bored, but it helps me make good decisions, and even helps me express my creativity. Even if I experience boredom often, I’m far from being unsatisfied with my life.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s