The Case for Boredom

“It is one thing to undertake, but another to finish.”

Let me get right to the point, lest I bore you too early and you click on to something else: We are a society that no longer knows how to be bored.  We are uncomfortable with it.  We may even feel less important if we are the only one who’s head is not constantly bent in the BlackBerry prayer.  The pressure to be constantly connected to noise and information is overwhelming, and we’ve lost an extremely important art – the art of being bored.

I grew up in the dark ages.  Rabbit ears to get VHF and UHF channels.  No such things as video games.  Research was done at the library – or, if you were lucky, you had encyclopedias in your home, purchased from the door-to-door salesman.  Landline phones.  Snail mail.  Needless to say, we knew how to be bored, because we were bored a lot!

Research has shown that children fill times of boredom with creativity.  In other words, we made stuff up.  Faced with boredom, we created things to do.  We made up plays.  We invented hybrid sports that had an ever-changing set of complex rules.  We built forts out of anything we could find and made up epic battles.  We were comfortable being alone with our thoughts.  What a concept!

The explosion of information and ‘noise’ that mobile technology, the Internet and video games  have brought means that we never have to be bored.  We fill the natural pauses in our lives with email, texts, phone calls, TV or downloads.  We squander away the opportunities to ponder, reflect, cogitate and create.

I love my time on my bike because of the obvious lack of email, phone calls or noise.  It is my time alone – time to think big thoughts, time to consider the universe, time to create new solutions to vexing problems.  Time to have a great conversation with no one other than myself, and all in my head.  Who gives themselves permission to do that anymore?!

So my advice – no, make that a plea.  Power down.  Carve out some time to be bored.  And let the creative juices inside you flow once again.

Be bold.  Be bored.

You just may learn to like it.

~ by chuckmattina on March 22, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Case for Boredom”

  1. My favorite blog yet! Be bold. Be bored…and a tagline is born!

    • If you want to read a good book on just being a kid growing up in the 50’s – and the creativity that goes along with being bored to tears – read The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. Thanks for the feedback on the post…maybe I should trademark that tag line…

  2. Giving yourself permission to be bored is a very difficult thing. You are looked upon as lazy in today’s society. At the end of a long work day or on the weekend, you just have to let go and don’t worry about what isn’t getting done or what you missed on TV, your email or your cellphone. I think as I get older that comes a little easier. I have a sign in my house which says “My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy!”. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I agree – be bored! It really is invigorating!

    • Good point – society does tend to quickly label people as lazy. Mindlessly surfing the Internet or chatting incessantly on a cell phone is somehow seen as being busy or productive. Allowing yourself the time to think (AKA being bored) is seen as lazy. As a self-professed Captain of Industry, it is hard to give yourself permission to do nothing from time to time. But it is amazing how you good you feel when you do let yourself check out for a while.

      With age comes wisdom. And the will to be bored.

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