Many of us would do just about anything to avoid being bored. Certainly in Shanghai, you don’t have to look too far to find someone who has fled all the way to China to escape the existential strain of monotony. For others, the possibility of boredom may not invoke a response of cringing in fear, however we might still go to lengths to avoid it – spending large sums on entertainment and gadgets, risking life and limb in dangerous sports, or consuming substances to feel something more. And of course, there is a lot to be said for the benefits, psychological and otherwise, of getting out and having a good time.

But you can imagine my surprise when I saw an article in last Sunday’s China Daily entitled, “Be aware of the upside of boredom.” I did a double take to see this article promoting the benefits of boredom and had to read on.

The writer explained that according to the experts interviewed at NYU and Stanford, “Downtime that’s dull refreshes the mind and body….When bored, we can learn to entertain ourselves and gain more self-control, eventually feeling comfortable away from constant activity and technology. We’re forced to be imaginative with simpler things.”

The same goes for having to entertain ourselves with less instruction on how to do so. Cliford Nass, a sociology professor at Stanford University, was quoted, “Learning about frustration is a hugely important thing.” Research shows that it actually helps children learn and retain more than those who are forced to sit still.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The persistent stimulation many of us have in our daily lives can be exhausting. We do need some time to slow down, sit back, and stare out the window. And with the holiday coming up, what better time to start than now?