BRAINS! They need boredom.

I heard this on WNYC this week:

Fifty-eight percent of American adults have a smartphone today. The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67 percent of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated. Forty-four percent of Americans have slept with their phone next to their beds.

I’m not ashamed of sleeping with the phone next to my bed. It is my alarm clock, afterall. But do I really check my device 150 times a day? It’s entirely possible; and if true, embarrassing.

According to WNYC’s interview with U.K. researcher Sandi Mann, “Minds need to wander to reach their full potential.” Boredom, science says, is good exercise for our brains.

In light of these data, the WNYC’s New Tech City issued a challenge to listeners to embrace boredom by putting down their smartphones. The challenge was not to even reach for it unless you have actual business to attend to.

I didn’t officially sign up for their challenge, but I have been trying to get bored more often. When waiting at the elevator, in line at the coffee shop, at lunch by myself: I will no longer pass the time by playing on my iPhone.

I will no longer check it right before I turn out the light to go to sleep. I will not check it if I wake up in the night and cannot sleep. I will not check it because the baby is content and playing for the moment, etc.

Instead, I will give myself permission to be idle. To watch and take in the world around me. I will think about things. Reflect on what I have to be grateful for. People watch, etc.

I won’t lie. It feels a strange not to have my phone in my hand at all times, especially when you see others nose-down in their glowing screens. What am I missing? What do they now know that I don’t?

Reaching for my phone is a matter of muscle memory. I must—I will—consciously retrain my body and mind to just be.

All this to say, if you are trying to text, email, Facebook, or Tweet me and I don’t answer right away — don’t panic, congratulate me.

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