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This article is a response and expansion to Buster Benson’s writing:
Studies show that longer commute times cause a number of negative physical and mental effects in some people. This makes sense — what feeling is worse than the excruciating wait of early morning traffic?
While some of us simply have no control over the amount of time, we do have control over how exactly we use it.
This time is also only a small fraction where we feel as though we’re waiting for something. Whether it’s waiting in line, or doing household chores, or on a boring lunch break — we have the urge of waiting for this time to be over. To be able to get to a more interesting part of the day.
I think this is an absolute, terrible mistake. If you add all of these moments throughout a lifetime you end up with hours of unused life.
Our most-used remedy for this is the attention equivalent of fast food — mindlessly and endlessly scrolling through social media or checking superficial e-mails.
While others might suggest listening to podcasts or audiobooks, I think it can be dangerous to still so quickly move to another stimulant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a large podcast junkie myself, but it requires no effort to listen to what you enjoy, unless you’re choosing to listen to a boring book on macroeconomics, for some reason.
What I’d suggest instead is to simply embrace boredom.
It’s absurd — almost ridiculous to say that we, as a collective society, have come to a point where our mental ability to do nothing has atrophied to a point where we need to purposefully strengthen it.
You can call it meditation, sure. Often, though, the practice of meditation in western society becomes fetishized within New Age fallacy. Where even apps are created, defeating the point entirely. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t research meditation, specifically from Eastern religions and philosophies, rather that you should beware when someone is trying to sell the concept as a product.
You aren’t obliged to eliminate negative thoughts or distractions. At the same time, you don’t need to worry about finances or dinner plans.
For most people, our best ideas come when we’re unable to distract ourselves with the overload of information in front of us, like in the shower or bath.
This is due to what’s generally held as the focused versus diffused mindset. Our mind is only able to truly synthesize ideas when we’re not actively doing a task at hand. However, for most people currently, that’s only when sleeping. And even then, people are depriving themselves of that basic need.
A lot of people prioritize spending quality time with either the people they love or doing something they’re passionate about, but I don’t think enough people realize it’s just as important to strive for quality time with themselves.
It’s the quiet moments like these where we can take a step back from the information overload and dramatic politics in our endlessly churning lives to get a glimpse of what we actually think and subsequently who we actually are.