I believe that at times we all get annoyed with the sameness of our days. We get bored. Then we treat boredom as if is a flaw in our lives. At which point, we immediately set out to fix the flaw by filling our time with work, hobbies, etc. Why is boredom a flaw?
Ordinary people live ordinary lives that are sometimes boring or at least not exciting. I am not sure when the culture developed that we need to be entertained 24/7. Why does an ordinary life need shaking up? This ordinary lady’s life is routine, now. I get up in the morning, get dressed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to bed, and start over the next day. I know it sounds boring, right? However, I am seldom truly bored.
It has only been in the last few years (since I became an empty nester) that I have been able to embrace a routine. I have embraced my routine as the gift it truly is in my life. I was a stay at home mom until both boys were in school full-time. Then until they were in high school I only worked the hours they were in school. Young kids make creating and sticking to a solid routine difficult. Back then, I never had time to be bored! Kids always have something that needs doing inside and outside of the house. I used to pray for boredom.
Now, I love the quiet moments that I did not have in the past. My down time is truly mine for the first time in a very long time. I have learned to live inside my own head and to appreciate down time. Therefore, I am not bored.
I read an article about boredom recently that made me smile. The author’s message really resonated for me. The article is entitled: “Boredom is not a problem to be solved. It’s the last privilege of a free mind” by Gayatri Devi. Devi says to embrace your boredom, let it teach you about yourself and the world:
So lean in to boredom, into that intense experience of time untouched by beauty, pleasure, comfort and all other temporal salubrious sensations. Observe it, how your mind responds to boredom, what you feel and think when you get bored. This form of metathinking can help you overcome your boredom, and learn about yourself and the world in the process.
Devi’s advice seems so simple – embrace the boredom and figure out what effect feeling bored has on you. How do you feel or think when you believe you are bored. An adult might find this challenging but not necessarily impossible. The tough part is getting out of our own way to embrace the bored. For myself, I love embracing that down time and just living inside my own head, letting thought just flow away. As a parent, I could only wish my kids had this freedom.
So, how do we teach kids to deal with boredom? I know with my boys that it was much easier to fill those “bored” moments with tasks such as cleaning, coloring, cooking, or reading. Busy was just much easier than bored as a parent. Whom am I kidding? Busy is safer! The amazing thing to me is that kids today have so much more than I had when I was a kid. They have masses of technology driven, mind numbing, time-wasting bits of drivel to fill their lives. I had the outdoors and a garden hose! Yet, I hear constantly the “I am bored” refrain from a “kids” young and old everywhere I go.
One of my friends had a fantastic response to his son’s “I’m bored” comment. He said, “How can you be bored when you essentially have the knowledge of the whole world in your hand in the form of a cell phone?” While his son did not appreciate the response, I certainly did. With a phone in your hands, you have games, books, magazines, newspapers, etc. Truly enough technology to keep anyone busy, yet it never seems like enough.
So why are kids, young and old, more “bored” now than in the past? I am not sure there is a clear way to answer this question. This ordinary lady thinks it is because everything is too easy now. We “have the world” in our hands and do not need to work as hard to accomplish or know things. Therefore, we do not appreciate our down time the way we used to. This generation is about instant gratification, which we will not find by embracing boredom. I say embrace the boredom. Our busy technology driven lives are not making us happier or healthier. So slowdown from occasionally and let your brain shut down. It certainly could not hurt!