All posts by ktl12

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.

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Thinking From a Different Perspective

 

German scientists set out to research an emotion that is hardly discussed – boredom. They set out to study the daily lives of German students. With their observations they categorized the students’ different reactions to dullness into several sections

  1. Calibrating Boredom

There is a discomfort associated with calibrating boredom, but it is very slight. A subject’s thoughts will wander and be open to behaviors or activities that differ to their current situation. They are not actively trying to change their situation, but they’re still affected by discomfort. People in this situation find themselves not knowing what to do, because of their general openness to all activities that differ from their current state that causes boredom.

  1. Searching Boredom

A type of boredom characterized by an active search to escape boredom is called searching boredom. Feelings associated with this type are restlessness and anxiety, since the subjects are in constant search of finding alternative actions to minimize their feelings of boredom.

  1. Reactant Boredom

This type is a more active response than searching boredom. In this case a person has a very strong motivation to escape his or her boring situation. Alternative circumstances are highly valued, in order to in the restlessness and aggression the subject feels.

  1. Apathetic boredom

The researchers agree that apathetic boredom is the most discomforting and concerning. Like the previous types, the person experiences an unpleasant feeling. However, the resulting consequences are quite serious.  Through experiencing low arousal and a lack of feelings, resulting in feelings of helplessness and depression.

Out of all of these types of boredom, all result in an unfortunate state of unpleasantness. This concludes how destructive boredom is to an individual. However, this is not always the case, for there is one type of boredom that results in a positive effect.

  1. Indifferent Boredom

This final type of boredom discussed on this website is the closest to being positive, or even helpful. Indifferent boredom is a type of boredom where the subject is calm and withdrawn from the external world. This definition suggests that boredom can become a form of relaxation or fatigue. It’s a reaction to boredom that is positive. Those who react to boredom this way are not subject to negative emotion. Rather, indifferent boredom can be beneficial. A person who experiences indifferent boredom could be taking a break from their hectic lifestyle, or just be satisfied with his or her current state of boredom.

All these research findings are interesting, but how do these types of boredom relate to our lives? Four out of the five types describe how boredom can be a disruptive force in life, but if we change our perspective boredom can become less of a destructive force in our lives. Perhaps there are helpful consequences that result from boredom. By understanding what type of boredom we’re prone too, we can learn how to avoid it. Having this awareness can allow us to even become more productive by encouraging us to find new passions, improve ourselves, and even help us relax. So, boredom can even have a positive effect on an individual when the situation is viewed from a different perspective.

If you want to evaluate what type of boredom affects you check out this link.

Background Music

 

On an early Saturday morning, my eyes opened to the sunlight coming through the cracks of her blinds. I looked to my right and read my clock— it was 8:00am. As music continued to play into my ears, I realized I had once again slept with my Ipod on.

I don’t remember the specific moment I became dependent on my Ipod, but I do remember how I felt without it. During our family’s frequent car rides during road trips, I always asked my sister to let me listen to her Ipod. But of course, my efforts were wasted since she would always refuse. Form this experience there was a feeling that I distinctly remembered –annoyance. Annoyance came in from the rejection from my sister, but also from the car ride filled with silence.

During a long car ride it’s difficult to find activities to do. After a couple attempts I realized either reading books or playing video games caused dizziness. Thus, I was stuck in an endless cycle where I constantly searched for something to do. The overwhelming time I felt made me restless and anxious. The only form of activity I could do was ask “Are we there yet?”

When I finally received my Ipod my search to prevent dull road trips disappeared. Time seemed to pass by more quickly as I listened to my favorite songs. Road trips became more enjoyable, as I was no longer trapped by time.

For me, there’s always an urge to fill silence with music. In my case, during long car rides, finishing work, or doing menial tasks, it’s hard for me to listen to silence. Bringing my Ipod has become a necessity, just like my wallet or my pencil case. At times when I think it’s lost I become filled with worries and restlessness. These feelings come from the concern of losing expensive items, but also from the fear of the inevitable boredom I’ll eventually reach. During a visit to Boston, I remember clearly the immense anxiety from realizing I may have lost my headphones. A six hour drive back to Philadelphia in silence was unthinkable for me. Luckily I found it in the end, but from this experience my dependency on electronics to avoid boredom was clear.

The fear associated with encountering boredom has caused me to become completely dependent on technology. But my dependency on my Ipod is not just a negative consequence. With music playing through by Ipod, I’m giving myself something that I enjoy, which is beneficial for avoiding boredom. Situations lacking in purpose or excitement seem to be a waste of time. I prevent those feelings of anxiousness and instead engross myself in my passion—which is music. Without experiencing that initial boredom in that long car ride, I wouldn’t have developed such an excitement or passion for music.

Pleasing the Audience

Speakers intend to convey ideas and information to the audiences, but not every speaker is successful. Student attend lectures can find difficulty paying attention to the lecturer for several reasons. Those reasons include listening to a monotonous voice, encountering a subject that doesn’t interest them, and more. To summarize, audiences are subject to feelings of boredom while listening to speakers.

Kristine Bruss has seen these similar views toward speeches through studying Greek rhetoric. During ancient times Greece was known as the country of famous orators, many of which are still studied today. Despite this language rich culture, “boredom” was a word that still ceased to exist until the 18th century, which was much earlier than the Greek’s time. As Bruss began to go in depth into her study, she began to discover more about how the Greek’s perceived boredom while practicing rhetoric.

The particular orator she decided to study was Isocrates. According to Bruss, Isocrates was a man who would judge his speeches and write down observations with minimal bias. He was often known to be concerned about how he presented himself towards the audience. Although the Greeks specifically did not have a word for boredom, Isocrates consistently used the term “ochlos” instead, which mean’s annoyance.

Modern definitions of boredom differ, but they all represent a sense of dissatisfaction that vary in different durations or forms. One specific type of boredom that is related to rhetoric is situational boredom, which Bruss describes as “a temporary dissatisfaction or weariness prompted by a particular source”. With this view in mind, it makes sense that the word Greek’s used for boredom was annoyance, a negative reaction.

In the works of Isocrates, he usually criticizes his speeches by how they affect the audience. He’s aware that he tends to ramble while he’s speaking, and he worries that he trouble his hearers, by making them weary of his talking. The particular words that he uses to describe his unpleasant speeches are enochleo and ochleros, which translate to meaning troublesome and irksome. In all the ways Isocrates describes people’s reaction toward speeches filled with repetition or unnecessary length, they all have a negative connotation, which is mainly related to annoyance. If the audience becomes restless with the speech, an orator becomes unsuccessful in conveying his message.

With Bruss’s study, it seems that boredom was described in a negative context. It was seen as a burden to people, and it caused much dislike. These reactions are very similar to modern reactions to boredom. It’s a situation that people always want to avoid. But what is ignored is the positive consequences that resulted from this experience. Isocrates was aware of his faults, but because of that he became more aware of an effective way of speaking to the masses. With observing the boredom present in the audiences, he knew how to improve his own mistakes and delight the masses with his speeches. Thus, even boredom can have a valuable impact.

 

You can find Kristine Bruss’s full study here.

 

Should I Join More Clubs?

Right when the clock hit 7:20am the homeroom bell rang, a sign of the beginning of another tiring day. I see Kate dash into the room, with disheveled hair and holding many things – her flute, lunchbox, and two notebooks. As she sits down she lets out a huge sigh and tries to catch her breath. She smiles as she realizes she made it to school one time.

I turn around saying, “You made it!”
Kate, still panting, replies, “Thanks Dani, I think today was the fastest I ever ran.”

We both laugh and continue talking as the morning announcements continue.

These days I never see Kate take a break. Her life is so fast-paced and never seems to stop and take a break. Even I’m involved in different clubs, but only maybe one or two. For her it seems like there’s too much to handle—robotics, orchestra, homework assistance program, French club, Dance club, etc.  A person with an average stamina is no match against Kate. Her efficiency level never fails to amaze me, since it almost seems like a miracle how one person can accomplish so much.

On the bright side, I don’t think Kate has ever been bored. She doesn’t even have the time to be bored! Essentially she’s becoming a workaholic. Sure she’s really successful in everything she does, but she doesn’t seem too excited about it. It’s clear she doesn’t get enough sleep each night, and each day it seems like she gets worse and worse. At first Kate described that she was very passionate in everything she does, but passion isn’t the same as satisfaction. Just where does all her motivation come from?

When you compare it to my life it just seems so dull. I head straight home right after school, and maybe watch a couple TV shows, and finish my homework. I never had a specific passion for anything, so I pretty much do the same thing every day. Sometimes I long to have some sort of passion to make life more interesting.

I’ve thought about trying more activities, and maybe even joining some of the clubs Kate’s in charge of, but why bother? Even if I fill my life with activities it’s not worth the time. One time I even heard her say “When I’m not doing anything, I start to feel antsy. It’s hard to just sit still.” For Kate, business is a necessary for her, but I think having a dull life is more favorable. When I think about it, I’ve never had the urge to pull my hair out from stress and anxiety, so I guess that’s good.

What’s the Secret?

Dullness, monotony, weariness – all the feelings that people want to avoid. According to scientists, individuals linked to those feelings are more prone to ills, both physical and social. Some will participate n result to corrupt activities to escape boredom, by fostering addictions to gambling and crimes, and even causing extramarital affairs. They can even become more willing to risk themselves, if it meant they would experience excitement.

But without people tired with their weary schedules, the entertainment industry would cease to exist. Consumers are constantly searching for something new that allow them to avoid the repetition present in their lives. However, with these materialistic tendencies, it’s difficult to keep producing innovative products to satisfy the general public.

With that point said, what’s a better way to approach this situation? Roy Rivenburg mentions in an LA Times article a better way to deal with boredom. He quotes a psychiatrist that believes that understanding how monotony affects your life. If individuals reflect on their boredom, they become more aware of themselves. From their disinterest in life, it can help recognize what kinds of hobbies interest them, determine important career choices and more. Thus, it’s not accurate to say that boredom causes negative emotions and situation, because if boredom is discussed in a positive perspective, it’s considered to be extremely helpful in life.

 

Listening to a Symphony

 

In the midst of classes filled with the usual mundane lessons, there’s little to look forward to during the day. But with a single mention of a field trip, students suddenly become attentive and interested. Field trips indicate temporary escapes from the confines of the classroom. With this chance, students suddenly become restless with anticipation.

During high school there was always a free annual trip to listen to the Philadelphia Orchestra’s rehearsal. To those who are not familiar with the orchestral scene, listening to classical music seems unappealing. But those who recognize the prestige of the Philadelphia Orchestra, which is known as one the “Big Five” American orchestras, know that it’s worth watching. Watching a nationally recognized orchestra for free is a rare opportunity.

When I arrived at the performance hall I picked a seat right in the center of all the orchestral action. The intensity and skill of the performers were shown as they practiced difficult and fast excerpts, in preparation for the upcoming rehearsal. Once the conductor arrived on stage, the orchestra suddenly became silent with focus. With a flick of his baton, the conductor breaks the silence and sets the orchestra into motion. The amazing unison of over a hundred people never fails to fascinate me. Despite the unique qualities of each player, no one stands out, and everyone plays in harmony. The action never stops, with the contrast between slow melodious sections followed fast-paced pieces filled with intense movements. As I watched I entered a trace, where the only thing on my mind was the symphony’s performance.

Once the orchestra finished their first movement I glanced at the people surrounding me. I either saw them falling asleep or checking their phones constantly. It was clear that they were uninterested with the musicians in front of them, which put all their efforts into performing a complex musical composition. Despite all the action occurring right in front of their eyes, they became bored of the rehearsal, just like they would in a typical classroom.

Listening to symphonies was once the greatest form of entertainment. But now with the development of new music and technology, classical performances are considered boring. As the conductor moves his arms to the rhythm, he changes the speed, volume, and pace. The only moment to rest in silence is when the piece is finished. The constant movements in music can stir the emotions of the audience as they listen to the endless melodies. Yet, even with all of these actions many would rather spend their time doing other activities rather than listening to a symphony.

With the difficulty in rhythms and melodies, an orchestral performance can be captivating or boring to some. These two perspectives exist because boredom towards one aspect is not the same for everyone. Those who are unfamiliar with classical music may consider it a waste of time.  A whole symphony can last for over forty minutes, which is valuable time that could be spent to enjoying something else. In contrast, the people who care for classical music understand that dull moments barely exist in a symphony. The focus and ease of the musicians are met with great admiration from the audience.  In their seats the melodies create stories and images in their head. But for others these songs have no significant meaning at all. Thus, what is considered boring depends on each person’s unique perspective. Everyone cares about something different, so often times the same object can either be considered interesting or boring.