We Are Starving For Boredom – and why you need it to get Creative

As the summer vacations draw to a close and the Fall’s back-to-work, back-to-school, mentality gains hold over all of us, I wonder how many people are approaching it refreshed, renewed and full of ideas. Isn’t that what summer vacation is all about? A bit of time off to relax, to re-create and juice up our batteries.

For those that work the daily grind, maybe you couldn’t take a summer break because they laid-off half your team and you’re stuck working the extra load. Maybe your break didn’t really feel restful because you wanted to catch up on all those things in your life you meant to do weeks or months ago, which you now realize were much more work that you thought and it ate up all your free time for fun or enjoyment. You just feel cheated out of Me-time.

Ahhh, enjoyment, pleasures and life fully lived. Are we even aware of what this state of joy feels like? So much of our free time, and the time in between one thing to another, or even, at the same time while we are doing something else; we check emails, texts, tweets, posts, links, videos, news, weather, jokes……..yatta yatta yatta.

What is with the world that they must constantly check in with their networks social or otherwise? Similar to the empty calories of fast food which is starving the population of nutrition and delicious taste, so is our compulsion to avoid a moment of nothingness. It’s starving our creativity and creative flow.

Go ahead and try it. Try one day, one hour of not touching your phone while you go about your day; waiting at the bus stop, at the ATM machine, for your laté. Like a smoker, you may out of habit feel the need to touch the portal’s smooth surface.

But wait. Resist. And in the absence you will feel something. You will actually feel something emanating from within yourself.

You may look around in your surroundings. You will be observing the people, the place, the weather. You may notice things that you never would have seen. And in this seeing you start to think, take mental notes, cross-reference to other times or feelings. You become aware of yourself and what you want to do.

In this space, this do-nothing space, you start the process of creativity.

Found this digging through the archives. Blurr...Why resist boredom and fill it with texts, facebook and the like? What we equate with boredom is really stillness, that moment where we can hear ourselves.

Interestingly, Public Radio’s WNYC sponsored a “Bored and Brilliant” campaign earlier this year. They created a podcast and series of exercises to help people get off their phones and confront boredom. http://www.wnyc.org/series/bored-and-brilliant/ The challenge was accepted by thousands of people who wanted to go phone-free, disconnect, observe, and embrace boredom. What did they find? Not so surprising stuff — by filling up all the empty moments in our lives, we’ve been keeping ourselves from experiencing downtime.

Does that explain the exhaustion, the stress illnesses, and general lack of joy and happiness in our world?! Does that explain the sheep mentality, trending topics and the illusory belief that we are engaging in meaningful conversations?

Are we so afraid of a moment of stillness? A moment that we so desperately need in order to nurture and grow the creative sparks that flash for a brief moment, not likely to return.

That creativity you seek for your next great project, for your ongoing practice or for climbing that corporate ladder is there within you. It is there in the momentary stillness that you let yourself feel, get stirred-up by it and allow it’s light to shine outward.

Recognize how you may be starving yourself of boredom. And once you roll around in boredom for a time, you will be ready to jump in to the next fun project full of zeal and renewed energy.

By depriving yourself of a bit of boredom, you run the risk of constantly being on the treadmill, in the social sphere, work sphere and every other aspect of your life. It’s O.K to be bored, do nothing for a short time – in fact creativity is born from it.


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http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=enhttp://www.wnyc.org/series/bored-and-brilliant/

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