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Positive Boredom

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

One of the most common reasons people give as to why they eat when they are not hungry, why they drink when they don't want to, or why they scroll through social media is because they are bored. They feel that they don’t have anything else to do so they might as well disappear into food, alcohol or social media.

When you are bored, your feelings come to the surface. If these feelings are insecurity, loneliness or judgment, you want to escape. So in order to distract yourself, you eat, drink, or scroll. Some people fill every second of every day with activity to ensure they are never bored. This ensures those feelings never come trickling to the surface.

But what if, what comes trickling to the surface isn’t your enemy? What if all along you thought you had to go, go, go, and do, do, do only to realize that being bored is an amazing gift of time that tells you where you are with yourself and an opportunity to explore what you really would like to do? What if you are not a human doing, but a human being?

What if being bored is an opportunity to get to know yourself? What if the feelings of insecurity, loneliness or judgment, just want to be felt and let go? Then after the feelings pass you can explore who you are and what you enjoy. What if you were just never taught how to be bored?

By definition to be bored means to “feel weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.” If this is true, then boredom is the greatest gift ever that tells us, we would prefer to do something more interesting. So let's learn to do boredom properly. Because when you learn how to be bored, you get your creative juices flowing and explore who you are and what interests you. You find activities, other than eating or drinking to nourish you.

There are two types of boredom. There is negative boredom and positive boredom.

Negative Boredom

Negative boredom is when you fill your time with things that do not contribute to your wellbeing and happiness such as unconscious and mindless eating, chastising yourself, picking fights with others, spending too much time watching TV. We know negative boredom all too well. So many people believe that if they have nothing else to do, they should eat, drink or scroll. This robs them of the opportunity to reflect on how to fill up their lives.

Positive Boredom

To do positive boredom you just sit with yourself and wait for insight and inspiration to come to you. Seriously. It’s ok to sit and even wander aimlessly until the right action arises. Start with 5 minutes, then increase that time to 15 minutes. Try this and promise yourself that whatever comes up, you’re not going to move for 5 minutes. The first couple of minutes may be nearly unbearable. But, you know you can endure them, right? It’s just your mind that doesn’t want to. You’re not going to die. In fact just the opposite will occur.

What you are doing is creating the space for something more to come into your life. Creativity is born from idle time. Boredom is the gift of time that opens the doors to inspiration, and allows what wants to be born to flow through you. The benefits of boredom are numerous: creativity, emotional attunement, and overall mental health. Equally important, it gives us a chance to understand ourselves. It is a time for reflection, introspection, and exploration.

What, after all, is the difference between “boredom” and “relaxation”? It’s not what’s going on outside; it’s what’s going on inside. When I am bored and sit with myself and wait, the impulse that flows through me is often to write, to meditate, to read or walk in nature. This reveals something about the essence of who I am.

If you had the chance to be bored in the positive sense, what would you be inspired or compelled to do?

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