The benefits of boredom

Being bored is good for children and adults …

according to recent research referenced by the World Economic Forum. Canadian studies have suggested that the more “screen time” options children had the less creative they became.

Western society is obsessed with the need for constant noise and activity. Smartphones contribute significantly to the endless stream of attention seeking distractions which fill our every waking moment. Music, emails, news and games keep us from both boredom and imagination. There is little time to dream and less need to create as we depend on other people’s thoughts and ideas to stimulate and amuse us.

Perhaps, the saying, “I’m so busy I can’t even hear myself think” is closer to the truth than we realise.

So, what are the alternatives?

  • Time – to be bored, to day dream and to “waste time”.
  • Silence – to confront our fear of inactivity and our society’s obsession with productivity.
  • Sabbath – guilt free time to rest and play without the obligation of justifying our inactivity or “unproductive” use of time.
  • Creativity – using basic, non-electronic materials such as a piece of paper to write, draw, paint or doodle. A journal and pencil or pen to reflect on our hopes, fears, questions and dreams.
  • Multi-sensory experiences  – listening to music or the sound of the surf, feeling the wind on our face, walking barefoot on the sand or in warm mud. We can also take the time to “smell the roses” or a have massage.

Photography has been a useful “waste of time” that has caused me to pause and consider through new eyes the things around me.

The psalms use a word “selah” which translated from the Hebrew means, “pause calmly and think about that”.

One of my favourite thoughts from the Psalms is:

“Be still and know that I am God”. (Psalm 46:10)

What about you?

Are you comfortable with silence and inactivity or does it unsettle you?

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