“Busy has become the new “cool” – almost like there is an unspoken message to all of us that you have worth if you are busy.” A line resounded deep into my inner world as I was reading this article by Dr. Vanessa Lapointe. So true.
In our busy routines, we are often being stung with guilt. We feel guilty for everything related to our kids – we don’t spend enough time with them, don’t put enough effort in developing their skills, don’t pay enough attention to their needs…we are just not enough. And in a desperate attempt to mute the voice of guilt, we schedule and program, engage them in all kinds of activities, respond instantly with ideas to any sign of boredom, not leaving them a place of stillness, of nothing happening, a place to develop their creativity, find their passion and express themselves. Thus, we are transferring the business of our own world to theirs – like a tiny mirror world.
We are not doing them a favor, specialists say. Because children need boredom “for the world to become quite enough so they can hear their themselves” ( Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, R. Psych.). Boredom is the seed of creativity. The pathway to drive and ambition.
What to do when your child says “I’m bored”. Do nothing. Don’t provide a portfolio of ideas and to-dos. Let them embrace the boredom and see how they thrive. Oh, and try to do the same…from time to time. Adults benefit boredom, too. Albert Einstein: “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.”
What does your gut do when you hear the two words every parent dreads? “I’m bored.” Maybe it is because of the incredible guilt that a lot of today’s busy parents carry around with them, or maybe because in the grand scheme it feels like the path of least resistance, but many of us are tempted to respond to those dreaded two words with a running list of options.
“I’m bored” is the worst song on the parenting soundtrack. Accusatory and always on repeat, it’s performed when you least want to hear it: in the middle of a nice grown-up dinner; during the first stages of a traffic jam; the refrain echoing down long supermarket aisles.
Leslie Barker, a writer at the Dallas Morning News, got in touch with me way back in October and asked me about a subject I consider myself an expert on: the benefits of boredom .
Boredom For Adults
Put away your smartphone. Is it as simple as this?
According to Manoush Zomorodi, host of the NPR podcast “Note to Self,” and author of Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive & Creative Self spending some time disconnected from your smart device can be a source of unsuspected happiness or even a source of innovative life-changing ideas.
And no wonder. Smart devices often fill in the scarce moments of stillness not letting our minds wander freely, making connections we would never make if distracted by technology or focused on finding a solution to a specific issue. They keep our minds busy all the time. In addition, smart devices stimulate multi-tasking, which, scientists say, is not good for productivity. Contrary to what you might have thought, multi-tasking shrinks your brain.
So, how do you win back some time of boredom? Zomorodi created the “Bored and Brilliant Challenge,” a week-long series of smartphone-avoiding, boredom-encouraging tasks designed to help you both take control of your time and create a few empty spaces within it. Read the full list here. But some to mention:
- Put your smartphone in your pocket (or better in your bag) while waiting for the bus, while at the passenger seat, while waiting in line at the coffee shop. Or anywhere you could afford just to let your mind wander.
- Delete the app that takes up most of your smartphone time.
- Indulge in observation and notice, Zomorodi challenges you, “take note of one person, object, or interesting, uninventable detail you would have missed if your nose were glued to your phone.”
What if there was one simple thing you could do that cost nothing and took no extra time, that would make you much more creative than you are now? What if it would also make you sleep better, and perhaps happier in general. Would you do it?