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The Benefits of Boredom

I was never, ever bored as a child---or so I told my parents.

You see, we were raised on the belief only boring people get bored.

Anytime I'd grow close to lamenting boredom to one parent or the other I'd quickly remember this fact.

I imagined what their cure to my boredom might be.

I feared what project or chore they'd offer to lessen my current state of restlessness.

Invariably something--ANYTHING--I'd create to amuse myself would have a greater element of fun and a smaller level of work or educational value.

The majority of the time this realization was enough to squelch any I'M BOOOOORED whining, prompt me to turn inward, take matters into my own hands and get creative.

Somehow I'd forgotten this childhood lesson when I headed to New York City a few weeks ago.

I had meetings.

I had adventures arranged.

I also hatched a secret plan to allow myself the space to grow completely and utterly bored.

I planned for boredom in the city that never sleeps.

I wanted this experience because I was aware I’ve spent the past 40+ years focused on being present, staying mindful and resisting boredom at all costs.

To my delight, my Boredom Experiment and the "dullness" I made time to experience in NYC was amazing.

Here's why:

  • I prepared to be bored. I was excited to be bored. I longed to sit and embrace the sensation. I paid attention to how my body felt in those slow, inactive moments.I noted what my thoughts & instincts were. I listened to what my body said (don't stop! go go go!) and ignored the temptation of action and stimulation. I was eager and ready.
  • I seized boredom as time to reflect. I make time each morning for silence and meditation. During my morning minutes, however, I focus on emptying my busy mind. As a result, I spend little time on reflection. During my planned boredom times I took the opportunity to look back. Way back. Before I was a wife or mother back. I spent time pondering where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to go.
  • My boredom sparked creativity. This was a childhood lesson I’d forgotten. Instead of seeking a book to read during this time--I thought about what I’d write if I had no fear. Instead of watching television, I grew bored and then doodled, sketched and imagined. Providing myself the space to embrace boredom gave my mind freedom to be crazy creative. The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald referred to boredom as, "something we must push through each time we seek to create anything from life to art". My experience definitely affirmed this fact.
  • The boredom relaxed me. Boredom made me tired. I learned allowing myself to feel boredom resulted in better sleep. Boredom gave my mind the gift of wandering and the result was a much more relaxed body as well.

I returned from NYC more self-aware, creative and refreshed than I’d felt in ages.

I also returned committed to creating a life where busyness does not provide me an excuse to avoid the benefits I learned bored moments provide.

And you?

Have you seen the benefits of allowing yourself to feel boredom or do you avoid boredom at all costs?