How often do you do nothing? And by nothing, I mean literally nothing – no TV, no scrolling on your phone, no reading.
Something I’ve come to realise about myself is that I am VERY good at distracting myself. If I’m not at work I will either be on my laptop working on the blog, on social media, reading or watching TV.
I barely ever let a minute pass without my mind being engaged in something.
Then, recently, I found myself listening to music in the car (I was a passenger) staring out of the window and just…. day dreaming. Letting my mind wander. It was so refreshing.
It reminded me of when I worked as the manager of a shoe shop in my university town. A small, quiet shop, there would often be days when only one or two customers would roll in.
Because I was such a diligent worker (smirk), I didn’t have my phone on the shop floor so once the ‘work’ bits were done, I had nothing to distract me. This gave me time to get seriously bored. And you know what? It was amazing.
Why boredom is important
It gives your creative mind free-reign
In those moments of boredom in the shop, I would take a pen to paper and write shopping lists that turned into ramblings. I wrote rants, short stories and odd observations. I would make up backstories for the people I would watch walking around the mall.
Basically, it gave my weird creative mind the reigns, letting it run bloody wild. And best of all, there’s nothing directly inspiring you – just whatever happens to make its way to the forefront of your imagination.
It gives you time to check in with yourself
I got my best thinking done in those boring days, checking in with myself and how I was really feeling. And I think this is why, perhaps, a lot of us choose to distract ourselves… we’d rather that than be left alone with our own thoughts. Because then we might have to acknowledge that things aren’t OK or that we’re unhappy. So I get that this can be a bit scary, but it’s so important.
You guys know by now that I’m all about that self-awareness life, and I think allowing ourselves to get bored from time to time is a great way to encourage this.
It gives you space to be mindful
Without glaring screens or conversations to distract you, you really get the chance to be in the moment. I did this a lot in the shop, without realising I was doing it (mindfulness hadn’t made its way to the mainstream then). I would study my environment, notice things most people would miss – I was probably the most ‘present’ I’ve ever been.
It forces you to slow down
Being bored is uncomfortable. We’ve been conditioned to despise it (think about how you feel when you can’t fast forward through adverts) and generally do anything we can to avoid it. But if we can sit with it, not wish it away, we’ll actually be able to slow down and just ‘be’ for a while.
How to be bored more often
Probably the worst ‘how to’ title ever, but given what we’ve talked about, I thought I’d write a few ideas for inviting boredom in.
- Instead of fast-forwarding through the ads when watching TV, mute the TV and practise being mindful.
- Have a digital detox every now and then, see how it makes you feel.
- Try scheduling the odd hour here and there for nothing. Listen to music maybe, but nothing else, see how your mind reacts.
- When you start to feel boredom kick in, (say when you’re queuing for something) check in with yourself and how you’re feeling.
When was the last time you were bored? How did it make you feel?
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