I used to be scared of being bored. That was the one thing I could quantifiably pinpoint as a deep-rooted fear that I held.
But not in the sense that I needed to be constantly stimulated and entertained. Rather, I feared what would happen if I ever faced sustained boredom: the inability to create a way to entertain myself. The void of thought terrified me. It’s the same way a writer fears writer’s block. The idea that the well of ideas and creative thought might one day run dry was terrifying.
Boredom is important
As I’ve gotten older, (and wiser, some might say – they’d be wrong, but they may say it all the same), I’ve realized the true value and importance of boredom. Boredom is a driving force that propels us forward, and motivates us to do more. Boredom inspires ideas, stories, art, science, innovation and imagination.
It’s a crucial part of childhood. Boredom teaches kids to daydream, to think beyond the here and now, and towards the fantastic. Boredom is a vehicle for hope – it’s a symptom of safety, of civilization, of comfortableness. Adults find contentment in being comfortable. Children become restless. And we need more restless people.
Teaching our children the value of boredom is hard. It’s far easier to give a whining kid an iPad, or stick them in front of the TV.
A challenge for adults
It’s even harder to give ourselves time to be bored, to see what happens when we get a little uncomfortable at the lack of information or entertainment that’s so readily available these days.
If my husband gets up to use the restroom at a restaurant, my immediate reaction is to reach for my phone. We were in the drive in at Sonic the other night, and he was simply sitting in the car, not looking at his phone, not engaging in conversation, just letting his mind wander, and I found myself unsettled.
Disconnecting, letting your mind wander, has become so alien to us that it’s upsetting. Disconnect from the constant flow of information, and be bored. It’s good for you.