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Feb 8, 2015

Making a Case for Boredom

As I get older, I find myself getting distracted more and more.  Maybe it's just that there really is more to think about... say, I knew of 1,000 ideas and objects and feelings when I was 5, and now I know of 100,000.  Those numbers may not be right, but you get the gist.  Does distraction come because there's just more to distract, or am I more distractible?  The culture in which we currently live seems bent on presenting everything in cliff-notes sized bites that can be machine-gunned at us out of whatever platform we happen to be exposed to, or voluntarily expose ourselves to.  Not all, but many parts of our surroundings do not lend themselves to focus or intent.  Many parts of my self do not either.

I just went to 5 different websites while trying to write that first paragraph.  Case in point.

That being said, I was glad to read an article recently that makes a strong case for a state that's been classified, likely unfairly, as negative.  No, New Jersey, I'm not about to defend you here (although someone really should... I mean, the armpit?!?... that's just mean).  

"Boredom makes us look inward", says a professor quoted in the article.  "It creates a fertile state for creativity and self-awareness and can even motivate you to help others.  Plus, learning to cope when there's nothing to do is an important (and vanishing) skill."  Do you ever find yourself in line, like I do, and whip out your phone?  Is it a need to look important?  Is it because we feel we have so much to do in life that wasting that 30 seconds or 2 minutes or what have you seems a crime?  Do we feel more purposeful for "using" every available opportunity to task or multi-task?  

In the "kid's" section: "We all need to learn to sit still with our thoughts in an unstimulating environment and not freak out."  Kids, yes; but that sentence starts with we all, and our children are going to have a hard time learning this if we don't model it.  That vacant space is not a dark abyss, it's a open canvas.  

So here's to more of this and this.  Go get bored silly, folks.


  1. I LOVE that there is a cloud appreciation society!! :-) And I totally agree with you about boredom. Somehow, and in some way, it is good for us. Although, I guess quietness is my big kick. I think being okay with quietness is important. It sort of runs hand in hand with boredom. Maybe finding delight in quietness is what happens after we are bored--after boredom causes us to find that untapped depth of thought and imagination in us. Anyway, whatever it is, I love this post! And love the shout out to my blog!

  2. Maybe b/c we're so unused to silence and quietness, we define it as boredom? Whenever I'm in line, I basically view it as a challenge to not look at my phone, so stare intently at everyone around. And I'm sure they're all weirded out by me staring intently at their face and/or purchases, but in the end I have a small feeling of success. :-) Anyways, it's a good thing to just be bored and I should do it more often!

  3. 1st off - my computer never "told" me you guys commented - blast and double blast! Hypocritically (sp?), I was off not being bored and didn't get to check until now. I miss you both, and hope sometime we can all be bored together. :-P

    Secondly - in the interest of not plagiarizing - I institute an addendum: this article was from the February 2015 issue of Real Simple. At this point, I don't know the name or author, so author out there, I apologize. But I really liked your article!!