“I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” I bet my mother heard me say those words ten thousand times when I was young. And each time she would tell me to "go play with all those toys in my room" or to “go outside and play”. Like there was anything to do outside, right? Wrong! Somehow I always found something to do and it never failed that at dinner time mom was yelling out the back door for me to come in to get washed up for dinner and me yelling back “just 5 more minutes’ mom!”
To be honest finding something to do wasn’t immediate, I was still bored. Desperately bored at times but that is exactly when something magical happened. My imagination came alive.
It really was pretty amazing when I think back on those days. Even though I had plenty of toys to play with and books to read, not to mention mom could always find a chore or three for me to do, nothing was interesting enough to me at that time for me to want to do any of it. Thus my mind went to a place of desperately seeking something to occupy my thoughts. I was bored!
I remember the house we lived in when I was a kid had that texture on the ceiling commonly known as popcorn. Normally I played no real attention to it unless….. I was lying on my back on my bed bored to death. That’s when, after a short while, my mind would start connecting those textures together to form faces and animals and creatures. Before long I was seeing a whole cast of characters unfold on the ceiling above me and without fail that story would also unfold in my mind. It was like I entered a fantasy world of my own creation.
Other times I would sit outside on the back steps, sulking because I had nothing to do and no one to play with me. I would just sit there watching whatever would catch my eye. Maybe it was a leaf blowing by, or a bird or a blade a grass. I had nothing to do so anything was more exciting than the "nothing that I had to do”. But it never failed that in that state of boredom, I would start thinking about how that stick laying over there that looked like a magic wand or I would wonder what was going on in the field behind the garage... my mind would always wander off in some direction. Soon enough I would get up, pick something up and one imaginative thought would lead to another and without fail, I always found something interesting to do.
So what was happening back then? Creativity, imagination, playing pretend…dreaming, that’s what was happening!
We live in a world full of so many things to constantly experience that without that constant stimulation we become lost. The idea of being quiet and still is unheard of and to many its just plain frightening. We normally go about our day living from one stimulation to another without thought. If there is ever a time when we have nothing to do we desperately, and without even much thought, find some sort of entertainment to fill the dead space. And with smart phones in hand stimulation to occupy that empty time space in our own mind is always just a finger move away. But in the end all that stimulation is just us enjoying someone else imagination and creativity and not our own. We have been a part of this over stimulated world for so long that our minds have nearly lost its ability to imagine and dream as easily as it did when we were a kid.
Being bored isn’t anything anyone of us really want to experience and yet it is something that we really need to be every once in a while so that our minds can be free to exercise without interruption. So we can quiet our minds long enough to hear our own thoughts and not that of others. It’s in these moments of boredom that our minds find the room to be creative and our imagination begins to run free…innovation and dreams begin to grow and take root into our minds as if they are possible.
And when we begin to feel that a dream or a stroke of imagination is possible then we tend to act on those things. We begin to live a more fulfilling life.
Dr Vanessa Lapointe, an author, parenting expert, and registered psychologist, thinks that we should be bored more often. She says we all “need to sit in [our] own boredom for the world to become quite enough that [we] can hear ourselves. It is only when we are surrounded by nothing that something comes alive on the inside.”
She adds: “[We] need to sit in the nothingness of boredom in order to arrive at an understanding of who [we] are.”
When we allow our minds wander and we stop thinking about what's going on in our busy over stimulated world, we allow our minds room to think about the future, to dream about things we would like to achieve and discover creativity once again. This is a process known as "autobiographical planning”. When our minds are in a state of daydreaming we are most prone to planning and anticipating our future goals and desires.
The philosopher Bertrand Russell, who spent time in prison, suggested that prison may be the ideal setting for a creative person. He said, "A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men, of men unduly divorced from the slow process of nature, of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers as though they were cut flowers in a vase."
Like everything else in life too much of anything is never a good thing and too much boredom will also have its side effects but without it, life can become mundane and without zeal.
A life enjoyable was never intended to be a life so busy that you no longer have the space to dream.
Find time to be bored and discover your creative self again.
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