Our inability to allow ourselves to be bored causes us to do a lot of stupid and harmful things

By Mark Manson

Our inability to allow ourselves to be bored—i.e., our constant need for stimulation and distraction—causes us to do a lot of stupid and harmful things, both to ourselves and others.

The French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote:

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

But there’s also a slightly deeper, more subtle explanation. There are certain characteristics of our thoughts and feelings that we don’t like about ourselves. Therefore, we likely feel a need to distract ourselves from ourselves in proportion to all of the unsavory stuff rattling around between our ears.

The more we deny or reject our internal world, the more we compulsively look for external things to occupy our attention. It’s this self-rejection that leads to self-destructive behaviors, thrill-seeking, and addiction. And some of us apparently are so nonplussed with ourselves that we’d rather experience the external pain of electrocution than the internal pain of our own self-reflection.