The Value of Boredom

Being bored is out of fashion and has been for some time.  Business is a badge of honor for the modern professional class, regardless of actual occupation.  Parenthood is portrayed as an never-ending series of emotional, physical, and mental challenges and obstacles.  We all hear stories of children no longer allowed to have unstructured play time or being pushed outdoors, left to entertain themselves.  Life seems to come in waves with occasional reprieves between the swells, surf breaks pushing and pulling all of us this way and that.

The business of modern life seems an immutable fact, even as people become paralyzed by anxiety of daily life.  I suggest trying to be bored again.  Boredom, that is when the mind and body is idle, leads to unorganized thinking and creativity and contemplation.

Boredom forces the mind to wander.  By it’s very nature, nothing is occupying the mind when bored, so it is free to have unstructured thought.  A state of bored visualization, in fact, has a name: day dreaming.  I am not the first notice this and more and more are calling attention to the role of boredom in creativity.

Our society does not value contemplation.  This is reflected in numerous ways; almost no respect for the elderly and wisdom, ahistorical and cynical news coverage that has short or long-term memory, mindless pop culture that denigrates thought, reflection, and consideration.  Contemplation comes about by repeatedly mulling over the same problem time.  Boredom allows the mind over the various contours and divots of our thoughts, and gives room to think freely about the challenges in our lives.  Whether a fleeting thought or more sustained meditation, I believe the bored mind more capably contemplates matter, because it is not rushed to come to any conclusion or insight.  These same qualities allow for creativity as discussed above.

In fact, contemplation and creativity may just be two sides of the same coin and I sometimes question whether their differences are merely semantic.  I don’t know if the distinctions collapse into one another; perhaps I will gain a better understanding the next time I am bored.





The Value of Boredom

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