Boredom: the state of feeling wearied by dullness, tedious repetition, and apathy. Synonyms include apathy, indifference, disgust, lethargy, and monotony. Thanks, dictionary people. What a downer.
How can any of the above be a benefit in your life? Especially when the childhood punishment for expressing boredom was a litany of household chores. The majority of us learned not to ever express that feeling.
Boredom is Only for Boring People with no Imagination. ~ Tim Tharp
My high school teacher regularly quoted this to imply that only a boring person feels bored. Truly the exact opposite can be true. The measurement is really based on what you do with that feeling–household chores aside. Should we punish ourselves or others for a touch of inactivity? By all means, NO.
Boredom helps us grow as well-rounded, creative, expressive individuals. Contemplate the luxury that boredom represents. When one feels bored, the environment around them emulates peace and calm. One cannot be bored in chaos and uncertainty.
Let Me Convince You that Boredom is Good!
Here are fives ways that boredom actually improves your life if you are willing to embrace the moment and not kill it quickly.
- Boredom fosters creativity. When you are free to think, you are more able to look around with a creative mindset. The outside world no longer stimulates you so you turn inward and strengthen your inner creative muscles. Remember your imagination?
- Your mental health can improve. Who doesn’t need that? During rest, your brain releases dopamine which is the good hormone that is associated with the feeling of happiness and satisfaction. Giving yourself permission to rest and breathe fosters a healthier mind.
- Boredom motivates you to search for novelty (something new, original, or different). Have you tried anything new recently or do you flow on autopilot? New fun things spring to the forefront. Trying new things is good for you. Here’s an article to further extol on that in The We Spot.
- New goals and skill emerge. Remember 2020 when everyone became a sourdough bread baker or a podcaster or novelist? We created those new skills out of that new space. What a beautiful experience to see new passions and interests bloom.
- Boredom helps foster self-control skills. The ability to focus and self-regulate is correlated to the ability to handle inactivity. The act of self-sabotage skills develops when one is unable to guide the feeling of boredom appropriately. When we need more and more stimulation to fight boredom, this leads to a cycle of more boredom. An impulsive mindset can develop which can lead to dangerous behavior.
How to Find a Little Inactivity?
First of all, don’t Google it. There is nothing on the internet that is going to promote the joys of boredom. In our society, as in our childhood, the norms don’t react well to inactivity and rest. When you have a moment in the carpool line, switch on that phone. Watch TV on the way to school. Work while in the bathroom. We model the picture of efficiency and hard work.
Note those times when you feel the need to check Facebook or Instagram for the 100th time today. Instead put all distractions down and sit in silence for two minutes. Just 120 seconds. Note what you hear, feel, taste, smell and see. Try it again later. Maybe a little longer.
A conscientious choice I have personally made is to not listen to podcasts while I’m walking or running. Yes, boredom can and does set in but I’m also able to think of new solutions to problems, articles I want to write, and even compose a ridiculous song or two. I spot all the dropped change and count all the masks I pick up.
Boredom is the Birthplace of Genius. ~ Unknown
Genius and creativity are found in many surprising places, notably in the beauty of boredom. Although boredom has a bad reputation, I would encourage you to look beyond its dull appearance and explore the open spaces that you can find when you take time to be inactive. Let that big beautiful mind of yours wander and create and imagine and compose.
My new definition of bored (not coming to a dictionary anytime soon) would include words like space, peace, room to grow, stillness, imagination, and growth. Take that, dictionary people.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, its employees, sponsors, or affiliates