Boredom is underrated. I didn’t feel that way the day our holiday visitors left and I was struggling to occupy myself. Just a few hours of thumb-twiddling in, I was feeling mighty uncomfortable. But then I began to fill my time by contemplating the power of boredom because yes, there is an upside.
I know a little girl who is barely able to amuse herself unless she has a digital device in hand. The more addicted to technology she becomes, the less inclined she is to draw, read, or even participate in family games. It’s not my place to call the shots for this little one but if it was, here’s what I’d do:
That’s right. I’d take away the devices as gently Bentley as I could, brace myself for some serious hissy-fits (and ‘I HATE YOUs’), and shower her with words of sympathy and support as she battles the inevitable withdrawal.
I’m no parenting expert, but I’m pretty confident that she’d eventually become bored silly, which would prompt her to pick up a pencil and draw, or grab a book and read, or ask a family member to play a board game. Her creative juices would begin to flow again and a new world of glorious possibilities would open up for her. That’s the power of boredom.
When the holidays ended, I was at a loss. No more gifts to wrap. No big meals to prepare. No parties to host. You’d think I would have let out a big sigh of relief and lost myself in a good book or Netflix series but I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Nothing appealed. Everything other than what I’d been busy doing for the past week or so seemed, in comparison, boring. But here’s the thing.
Boredom has its benefits.
While too much boredom is definitely not a good thing, the power of boredom in reasonable doses is that it prompts us to think of ways to better use our time.
Although I had a blast with family this holiday, I was so busy executing tasks that my creativity came to a standstill. I found myself unable to blog, let alone keep up with my Instagram page. And my attempts to brainstorm topics for the new year were unfruitful. In fact, I was so uninspired, I even turned to my husband and said, ‘maybe I should stop blogging.’
A few uneasy days later, however, I’m raring to go and I owe it to boredom. Sure, boredom can be depressing, uninspiring and unpleasant, but it can also provide us with space to self-reflect, which in turn can lead to more creativity, greater self-care and care of others, better problem-solving, and (I’ve saved the best for last) less busy-ness.
Embrace the power of boredom.
When you’re standing at the bus stop, waiting in an airport lounge, or sitting alone in a coffee shop, do you find yourself reaching for your phone? I know I do.
In today’s screen-saturated world, even downtime isn’t technically downtime. It’s scrolling time or viewing time. Either way, it’s doing time. The thing is, though, when we take a break from doing, our brains and eyes get to wander freely, and who knows where they’ll take us. I don’t know about you but I find that positively thrilling.
The above article shares some fabulous quotes from philosopher Bertrand Russell that speak to the power of boredom, including this one.
“I do not want to push to extremes the objection to excitement. A certain amount of it is wholesome, but, like almost everything else, the matter is quantitative. Too little may produce morbid cravings, too much will produce exhaustion. A certain power of enduring boredom is therefore essential to a happy life, and is one of the things that ought to be taught to the young.”
I propose we take that one little step further. Let’s not simply endure boredom. Let’s embrace it. In the coming year, let us balance action with stillness, doing with being, and excitement with boredom.
Happy New Year from the sometimes bored but never boring Viv for today xo
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