The lost art of being bored

March 24, 2018
The lost art of being bored

When did you last feel bored?

I remember as a child feeling bored a lot. Time seemed to tick by very slowly and there just didn’t seem to be enough to do to fill the day. I remember minutes felt like hours and I had to try really hard to entertain myself.

These days I feel the opposite is true. Admittedly, I have a far fuller life with a child, job, home and a husband. However, I can’t remember the last time I actually felt bored, which is ridiculous when you consider I commute to an office and spend most evenings at home.

Yet, why would I feel bored?

I have an iPhone providing a constant stream of entertainment. I love listening to podcasts, looking at Instagram, Facebook, reading newspapers, Twitter.. you name it. I don’t want to badmouth social media and podcasts because what I gain, far outweighs the bad. I just know that I’m reaching for my phone in any moments of down time and expecting constant entertainment.

Why being bored is good for you?

We view boredom as a negative, possibly because it invokes feelings from childhood where entertainment was out of our control – we were reliant on other people really to entertain us. However, the reality is, boredom provides us with the opportunity to be with our thoughts and feelings. We just need to learn to sit with the discomfort.

We’re so used to being able to entertain ourselves the minute boredom strikes that it’s uncomfortable to sit with our own thoughts. It’s good for us though to process things and use the time to solve problems or think creatively. Having the headspace to do this is why boredom is a good thing.

7 reasons why boredom is good for you

  1. It aids our concentration. Unless I put my phone or iPad out of reach, I will be 10 minutes into a film and realise I am scrolling through my twitter feed or googling what films an actor’s been in before. How is it possible to really determine whether or not you are enjoying something when your mind is so easily distracted? Boredom means we pay attention to one thing – there is nothing else to distract us.
  2. We notice details in the everyday.  I have a really beautiful commute home. My train stops at Blackfriars station when the sun is setting over the London Eye and I have a bird’s eye view from the train. Rather embarrassingly, it took me at least two months to notice but now I consciously make sure I drink in that view and feel grateful for it.
  3. Our mind can focus and problem solve. It’s so easy to put difficult problems to one side with the hope that if we ignore them, they go away. I believe you have to deal with things when you’re in the right headspace, however, you have to create the right environment for that to take place.
  4. There is time for reflection. A less busy mind gives us time to really think about what’s happened during the day/week/month/year. We can deal with our problems and then move on.
  5. We’ll sleep better. We don’t give ourselves the time to process what happened during the day because we distract ourselves. We’re then we’re surprised when our minds start racing as soon our head hits the pillow.
  6. Freeing up our mind encourages creativity. I listened to a podcast recently where the host said they always got their best ideas on planes because they had no choice but to switch off. There’s no internet and we’re all at the behest of inflight entertainment. By being more available, we’re opening ourselves up to new thoughts and ideas. I have my best ideas in those ‘in between’ times when I’m not really doing anything.
  7. Let’s us listen to our intuition. Less distractions enable us to hear that little voice inside giving us clarity on the right choices and pathways. It’s worth having moments of boredom for that alone.

Allow yourself to be bored

I’m trying to be much more aware of not leaning into my phone as soon as I feel those moments of discomfort. I have a bad habit of needing to listen to music or a podcast when I’m walking anywhere and it means I’m never just with my thoughts.

The access we have to information is incredible and such a power for good. However, it requires discipline and balance. This is just one of the reasons why I now try to Switch off Sunday

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