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Can You Be Bored Without Harming Yourself?

Remember all the times you were bored as a kid? Can you tolerate that now without causing yourself physical pain and harm to avoid boredom?

Boredom’s link to mental illnesses, brain injuries and dysfunctional behaviors is a great article about compelling research. It would seem that idle hands really are the devil’s workshop.

In 2014, psychologists at the University of Virginia conducted a simple experiment to showcase the power of the human mind. They placed subjects in a room by themselves with no distractions for roughly 10 minutes, letting them be alone with their thoughts.

Think of it has forced meditation. Without the option of stopping until the timer is done. Can you do it for even 10 minutes?

They found the experience so unpleasant, many of them preferred physical pain over the discomfort of boredom. When given the opportunity to ­self-administer a mild electric shock with a button, 67 percent of men and 25 percent of women pressed it at least once to help pass the time. One particularly miserable person shocked himself an incredible 190 times.

Erin Westgate, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida
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