Can we design boredom rituals?

Ritual Design Lab - On the Function of Boredom

Here’s an article from the journal Behavioral Sciences in 2013, by Shane W. Bench and Heather C. Lench, On the Function of Boredom. It points to the value of boredom in our lives, for our creativity and our health. This can be integrated into our ritual design, if we make boredom a prime context for ritual design (create health and productivity rituals during boredom situations), or even as a target for rituals (trying to produce constructive boredom through rituals).

Here is the abstract for the paper:

Boredom is frequently considered inconsequential and has received relatively little research attention. We argue that boredom has important implications for human functioning, based on emotion theory and empirical evidence. Specifically, we argue that boredom motivates pursuit of new goals when the previous goal is no longer beneficial. Exploring alternate goals and experiences allows the attainment of goals that might be missed if people fail to reengage. Similar to other discrete emotions, we propose that boredom has specific and unique impacts on behavior, cognition, experience and physiology. Consistent with a broader argument that boredom encourages the behavioral pursuit of alternative goals, we argue that, while bored, attention to the current task is reduced, the experience of boredom is negative and aversive, and that boredom increases autonomic arousal to ready the pursuit of alternatives. By motivating desire for change from the current state, boredom increases opportunities to attain social, cognitive, emotional and experiential stimulation that could have been missed. We review the limited extant literature to support these claims, and call for more experimental boredom research.

There’s another article from the Creativity Research Journal, Does Being Bored Make Us More Creative? It’s about how boredom can lead to inspiration, productivity, and new insights. Its abstract:

Boredom has traditionally been associated with a range of negative outcomes, both within the workplace and outside it. More recently, however, it has been suggested that boredom can have positive outcomes, one of which might be increased creativity. This study addressed this proposition by examining the relationship between boredom and creative potential on a range of tasks. Two studies were carried out; the first involved 80 participants taking part in either a boring writing activity or not (control group) followed by a creative task. The second study involved a further 90 participants who varied in the type of boring activity they undertook (either a boring written activity, a boring reading activity, or a control) and the type of creative task that followed. Results suggested that boring activities resulted in increased creativity and that boring reading activities lead to more creativity in some circumstances (such as convergent tasks) than boring written activities. The role of daydreaming as a mediator between boredom and creativity is discussed and implications are outlined.

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