When was the last time you were bored?
It’s an uncommon phenomenon in today’s reality of 24/7/365 connection with a plethora of dings, rings, notifications, and alerts from the smart TVs, phones, and computers that are always within arm’s reach of us… But, when I think back to when I was a kid I recall I was always bored.
Nowadays when I feel the slightest bit of discomfort or boredom I reach for something to entertain me and pacify my feelings of discomfort.
Am I terrified to be alone with myself and my thoughts?
What will I find deep within the recesses of my silent, but constantly entertained brain?
As a child, through boredom, I nurtured curiosity, thought deeply, questioned reality, created fantasy lands in the woods or with my toys, and sometimes had a multiple hour long staring contest with my sister… Yes, that really happened.
Boredom is healthy, beneficial, and should be embraced.
But how do you get bored in today’s day and age? Even the gas pumps have televisions shouting the latest news at us and the grocery store checkout line magazines display tantalizing headlines to distract us from our 45 second wait.
You must turn off your WiFi, put your phone inside a closed drawer, and unplug your TV.
Embrace ScreenLess Sunday and become completely unreachable to anyone except those that knock on your front door and make sure you’re okay… You haven’t replied to their text message in four minutes, something must be wrong!
After twiddling your thumbs, looting the refrigerator, counting the number of cracks on your ceiling, and organizing your sock drawer– you’ll finally get to a place where you admit you’re bored and be ready to start experimenting with some of the ideas contained on this boredom list.
Warning: these ideas are not for the merely uncomfortable, they are for the truly bored and desperate individuals who completely disconnected from our modern age for a spell and are looking to go deeper than they’ve ever been before. This is not for the weak or the faint of heart.
Fantasize about your future… dream bigger than ever before and then eventually write it down on paper
You need to be bored for many hours before attempting this one. Otherwise you will think too small and just try to shave off a little boredom. I want you to dig deep, dream, and envision ideas that would normally scare you to death.
You need to be thinking far enough ahead that you can turn off the analytical part of your brain that starts to try and figure our how to accomplish what you’re thinking.
To achieve this I like to think 10 or 20 years into the future:
- What do you want your life to look like?
- Who do you want to be?
- Who are your friends and what do your friends like to do?
- What does your family look like and what are your values?
- What trips have you taken and what did you love about them?
- How will you answer the silly question “what do you do for a living?” (I hate this question… there are so many better questions to ask a stranger, and I’ll make a post about this soon.)
- What are your hobbies? You had 20 years to improve on them… You may be a master woodworker, cabinet maker, locksmith, thief, painter, singer, dancer, juggler, clown, or whatever else you want!
Or you can spend the next 20 years watching Amazon Prime. It’s up to you!
Whatever you want, just think big, scare yourself, and don’t worry about how you will accomplish it.
After you dream big you can build 10 idea lists to start to break your dreams into smaller chunks, but start with the big picture first.
Take a long, long walk
This doesn’t have to be a Stephen King level walk… 400+ miles, four miles per hour, with no breaks…
But, just long enough for you to get a bit uncomfortable. Then, when you reach this level of discomfort, sit down on a bench and stare at a tree, a bird, a flower, or the clouds moving over head.
Last week I sat on a bench for almost one hour and watched a brilliantly white egret circle the entire pond and end up back where he started. The Spanish moss was swaying in the breeze from an ancient live oak over my head, birds began landing within a few feet of me catching insects, and dozens of my neighbors watched me curiously to see if I was asleep.
Pay attention to how your brain feels.
Does it feel different than normal? Is it cataloging ideas, dreaming new ideas, does it feel like it’s spinning as fast as one of the old windows operating system discs?
Ask yourself where this feeling is during a normal day… Wonder about what you are missing out on by not harassing this power more frequently.
You may not completely understand it (I don’t), but you know it is healthy, natural, and good.
You may be tempted to write something down while sitting on this bench, but don’t. Just sit with your ideas… Allow them to percolate, marinate, and erode grooves into your conscious and unconscious mind.
What you’re feeling may be a connection forming between your right and left brain hemispheres or maybe it’s a connection between your unconscious and conscious brain… Or maybe something else entirely. Maybe it’s a connection with the Spirit within you?
Whatever the answer, you’ll discover these long walks will become more addictive than scrolling through Instagram reels on your phone, but you’ll forget about it quickly because our phones pacify our brain enough to keep you comfortable, warm, entertained, and stationary.
Develop a hobby from deep within
What did you like to do when you were a kid? From the ages of around eight to twelve. Before we had to keep up with the Joneses, impress our co-workers, and before we were “supposed” to be doing with our time as productive members of society.
When I was a kid I loved playing outdoors and climbing trees, I loved board games, computer games, singing, DJing on my internet radio station, boating on the lakes, camping, playing street hockey, and so much more.
But how many of these things are still with me as an adult?
If I don’t use my time wisely I will spend the next fifty years watching Netflix, reading the news, and wasting valuable time. Instead of mastering skills and arts.
Here are some of the hobbies and skills I want to build on over the next 20 years:
- furniture making– my grandfather did this and could walk into a JC Penny and then go home and duplicate whatever he found there. He often did this for family, friends, and church members. After he passed I went to his church for the funeral and it was completely full of furniture that he had made. Shelves in the bathrooms, library book shelves, organizers for coffee, tables, chair, benches, etc. He blessed everyone with his hobby and developed it over a lifetime.
- piano– I’ve got a good foundation here, but I want to be able to improve more!
- survival skills– I want to keep my family and friends safe and be able to hike one of the word’s peaks
- whittling / carving
- comedy… there’s something about comedians and their transparency, honesty, and the ability for them to see what is really going on in the lives of the people around them. It is a major art.
- country singing… I’ve been in choir and have sang my whole life. Once I get my guitar playing down I want to record some country albums… Why not?
- tennis… I’m decent at tennis, but want to be able to play doubles tennis well with Emily.
I’ll stop here, now that you’ve got the picture, but what are your dream hobbies?
What have talked about for the last twenty years, but only spent 20 minutes on?
When you are bored you should work on these hobbies.
Slowly, but surely you’ll improve and as you improve they will become more fun and rewarding.
Instead dreaming of being able to sing on open mic night you can actually get on stage.
Rather than visiting an art gallery and admiring fine art you can paint your own.
And instead of watching football every Sunday and being the king of your fantasy football league you can become a proficient coach or athlete yourself. Try tennis, swimming, or golf, I’ve witnessed 80 and 90 year olds excelling at these sports.
Why sit back and imagine a future where you are who you want to be when you can actually become that person right now?
Sit and do nothing
Similar to taking a long, long walk, but allow yourself to do absolutely nothing for as long as possible.
Don’t meditate, unless that is what happens on its own.
Forget about praying, unless it naturally comes from within.
And try not to fall asleep…
But, don’t stop anything from happening either. Just be with yourself and go wherever your mind happens to go on its own. Don’t force it. Allow it to wander through the forest of your deep subconscious and observe what is happening.
Watch the clouds go by within your mind, count the sheep in the pasture, or try to count to a million. Or do absolutely nothing.
The saying, “It’s like watching paint dry,” will have nothing on you. This will be much mjuch worse. Because being alone with yourself is terrifying and electrifying at the same time.
If you hate yourself right now that’s okay. Doing this will permit you to love yourself.
You’ll begin to discover your thoughts aren’t actually yours. They’re just there. Always there. Never ceasing and never hiding or being silent.
These thoughts from within are a warm blanket on cold night, they are as reliable as the sunrise and the sunset, and they will never leave you. Everyone else will leave you eventually… But these thoughts never will. Learn to love them, appreciate them, and don’t drown them out with distractions and noise.
We don’t move enough… Maybe if you’re bored enough then playing follow the leader around your house will become interesting and fun. Or perhaps you’ll desire a stretch or take the time to massage your sore neck and shoulders. We all have sore necks and shoulders… Why is that?
When was the last time you laid on your back, stuck your legs in the air, and played with your feet? When you were a kid you did this all the time. Unless you’ve recently attended to a yoga class and did the happy baby pose you probably haven’t done this since then.
Go climb a tree… if you can. Just don’t fall out and don’t blame me if you get hurt.
When did it become difficult to do what you did when you were a kid? Does this mean you’re aging?
Why do I sit so much when getting up and moving feels so good.?
How do I forget how good it feels to move?
I just don’t know… Only when I’m bored do I realize how much I love my flexibility, muscles, my ability to crawl on the ground, climb a tree, or swim in a lake.
Chew your food 1,000 times per bite
We don’t chew our food enough.
Have you ever tried to chew each fork full of food 20 times?
If that’s difficult for you to do it means you’re not chewing your food enough.
That’s why you may have poor digestion, a bloated stomach, poor bowel movements, and it’s why you might be feeling depressed.
Your body is spending more energy than it should be trying to break down your food.
Chew until it isn’t a solid, but a liquid.
Chew until it changes from a liquid to a gas.
Chew until you forget that you are chewing. Until all you have let in your mouth is air.
And then keep chewing.
Your entire plate of food will be cold… But who cares. Why does it matter? Keep on chewing.
This entire post is the result of extreme boredom. I’m up in the mountains, completely disconnected from reality, and have detoxed almost completely from dopamine.
I’m feeling creative, silly, wise, scared, courageous, weak, strong, bored, and entertained.
How is that possible?
Did I discover a secret superpower of boredom induced productivity and creativity?
What will you discover if you embrace boredom and allow yourself to reconnect with your childhood innocence? What type of creativity is swelling inside you waiting to be released?
Are you brave enough to find out?
If you are, please let me know in the comments below. And please let me know what happens when you finally disconnect and allow yourself to become bored.