You sit in a lecture and as the professor drones on, your mind wanders. You think of the past and future. You doodle something and it turns out well. You write down a story, an idea; just something to get away from this boring present moment.
Research and our personal experiences point out that after experiencing a period of boredom, we are more creative, mindful and appreciative. At one point of time, I was constantly doing something or the other. This was so that I could live in a false sense of perpetual productivity. Now that I look back upon it, I confused busyness with productivity. If I had to do some mundane activity like dusting the furniture or hanging the clothes, I had to have music or podcast playing in my ears first to ‘save’ that time. Every train or car ride had to be spent reading or listening to something.
The thing is, when you are constantly consuming content, you have two problems. You get stressed due to information overload and you lose your creative powers. When you allow yourself to be bored, you will see that you are more rooted in the moment and at peace.
I remember as a kid, when I used to be home during afternoons and my parents were asleep (so no TV or video games); I would imagine and create all sorts of stuff. I actually drew levels of games like Super Mario Bros and Dangerous Dave to figure out their solutions in my free time. I even invented games to play with friends by re-purposing my current toys.
I wish to recapture that joy of childhood. I suspect that this sense of endless creativity is the feeling we all crave as adults when we whine “I miss my childhood!”
Try this experiment with me: Every time you get some spare time, don’t reach for your phone or TV remote or game controller. Just sit and think for a while. When going for a walk/run/biking, deliberately leave behind your earphones and experience boredom.
I guarantee you will learn that boredom actually enriches your life. Boredom makes your mind wander. When you are constantly entertained, you will never be creative.
It’s the silence in music that is equally as important as the melody
I have devised a simple process to try and gain the benefits of boredom.
Step 1: Switch from multi-tasking to mono-tasking. Limit your options. Decide that I’ll keep this one book with me and not do anything else for the next two hours. If I get bored of reading, I’ll just sit and do nothing.
Step 2: Set aside periods of time to let your mind wander. When bored, instead of thinking what to do next, just stay bored. When you are in the elevator, while waiting for the train, waiting for your food to heat up- don’t pull out your phone, just stay there doing nothing.
Eventually you will feel less stressed: no more information overload and feel happier because you are living in the moment instead of jumping from this to that.
Cheers to a happier, more mindful life!
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