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The Creative Upside of Boredom


When we feel bored we might believe something is wrong with us, especially if the boredom lasts a while, say for more than five minutes.

Many people consider boredom to be a sign of laziness, or a failure to initiate productive, time-worthy activities. However, boredom is an experience with many interpretations.

For instance, extremely imaginative, creative individuals such as Albert Einstein have been visited by boredom. “I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind,” Einstein wrote.

You might think, “Big deal, I’m not Einstein.” Although that is true for all but Einstein, when our minds are unoccupied by the world’s chatter we are, like him, alone with ourself. What makes the experience different for each of us is what we do, or do not do with that aloneness.

If we can relax into the dullness instead of resisting it, we might enjoy our own creative imaginings bubbling up from the depths of the doldrums. It is definitely easier - and fun - to surf the net, play with a new app, or text a friend, but by always choosing easy time-fillers we may be cheating ourself and the world of, well, our self.

Rafting the Doldrums

If you are feeling bored, consider getting comfortable in a favorite chair. Take a deep relaxing breath, close your eyes, and imagine the boredom is a raft you are relaxing on. There is barely a breeze so the water is calm, though now and then you hear it lapping against the raft. The sun is just warm enough to keep you comfortable.

Floating on this raft you begin to notice what remains when your mind is still. Maybe your body will relax until you hardly notice it is there, or will realize one part of your body remains tense though the rest tranquil—and explore why.

It may become clear why you stopped attending a recovery support group, or that you need to find one. Skills and talents lying dormant may start an itch that must be scratched. Or, you might realize you are in a period of lying fallow, storing up nutrients and energy for an approaching time of creativity and growth.

A solution to a knotty problem may float into your mind. Buried dreams might resurface and dust themselves off. You could find yourself inspired to spend the next hour cleaning out the garage, drawing a mandala, building a birdhouse, or staying on the raft.

“There is a time for play and a time for work, a time for creation and a time for lying fallow. And there is a time, glorious too in its own way, when one scarcely exists, when one is a complete void. I mean - when boredom seems the very stuff of life.” ~ Henry Miller

Photo credit: Adreson Vita Sa / flickr