This past weekend my family and I spent our last weekend of the season at our place in the mountains. It’s always bittersweet as I close the chapter on summer fun and turn my attention to the craziness to come in the winter holiday season (I’ll write about that in another article).
I love the mountains. I love the quiet and the solitude. The best part, for me, of being there is that I’m forced to checkout from technology and take a well-needed break from the busyness of life because there doesn’t happen to be service available.
The worst part, if you’re my children, is that they don’t have access to technology. If you’re a parent you’ve undoubtedly heard the cry of modern childhood – “Mom, I’m bored!” Whenever one of my daughters complains she is bored, my response is always the same. “Great! What can you do with that boredom? Read a book, write in your journal, sit quietly?” You can probably picture, without too much detailed description from me, the kind of look I get from my heart-felt suggestions.
Boredom is the path to creativity.
We live in a really busy world. And it’s getting busier and busier all the time. We have access to technology 24-hours a day, we’re expected to be available at all times (or at least we perceive that to be true), we move from meeting to meeting at the speed of light, bounce from task to task. It’s never ending
We’re so busy that when we do get bored it scares us. We scurry around trying to fill the void left by boredom. We fill it with “stuff” – more work, non-essential tasks, computer games, surfing the web, television, social media, mindless eating.
What if you just sat with your boredom? What if you didn’t try to fill the hollow space it provides? What gifts might you receive?
The thing is, boredom really can provide you with many gifts – if only you slow down long enough to experience them.
The Gift of Creativity. Allowing your mind to slow down, to be bored, gives it the space to receive creative visions. When you are constantly moving, going, doing, you don’t always notice the creative inspirations that come to you. Slowing down allows you to see things differently, to challenge assumptions, look at things from different angles. Be creative.
The Gift of Mindfulness. When you are constantly in motion, you make decisions from a place of reaction. Slowing down lets you make proactive decisions. It gives you the opportunity to ask yourself whether this is the best decision for you, or “Is this the right path I’ve chosen?”
The Gift of Calm. Living in our world of being constantly connected, constantly available, constantly thinking, planning, doing, causes stress. When you honor boredom and slow things down your insides and your brain start to calm down. You can feel it – it’s an instant swoosh of calmness, a big deep breath. In the calmness you’re able to breathe deeply, think clearly, see new perspectives.
The Gift of Decision-making. When you slow down, your brain slows down and begins to open up. You begin to see things much more clearly. Have you ever noticed that? Say you’ve been struggling with a problem or decision for a while, and one day you’re out for a quiet walk. All of a sudden the solution to your problem becomes all too clear. Or you know exactly the decision you need to make.
The Gift of Focus. When you honor boredom, slow down, sit quietly, and slow your brain down a bit, a funny thing happens. You get super focused. All of a sudden your priorities become crystal clear and you know exactly what you need to do. And, because you’ve also received the gift of decision-making, you know exactly how you’ll do it!
So do yourself a favor, and stop rushing. Don’t avoid boredom. Embrace it. You never know what insights of brilliance you may receive!
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