James Danckert and John D. Eastwood
Harvard University Press
A plethora of books that attempt to rehabilitate boredom as a normal, even valuable, experience have found their way to the Mindful offices in recent years. The benefits of boredom are still trending. This tome by Danckert and Eastwood, both professors of psychology (at University of Waterloo and York University, respectively), stands out because it explores not just what boredom can do for you, but what boredom is and why it (paradoxically) deserves our attention.
“Boredom reveals an important aspect of being human: We have a strong need to be engaged with the world around us,” they write. It’s the interplay between our circumstances and our brain’s response to them—being stuck in an airport, for example—that leaves us “caught in a desire conundrum, wanting to do something but not wanting to do anything…that is currently doable.” We all naturally want to immerse our skills, talents, and mental faculties in something. Certain traits and behaviors, however, can change how susceptible to boredom we are. Case in point: The ability to steadily focus our mind on whatever…