Thursday, March 28, 2013

Boredom is good for you

My dog being bored by joshme17, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by joshme17

Is boredom is becoming an endangered state of mind? We have almost abolished boredom from our lives today because the second we feel the slightest hint of it we check our mobile for a game, an app, some music, a film or at least check Facebook or Twitter for updates. We used to get very bored waiting for buses or trains but not any more. Everyone is absorbed in their own private soundtrack. We all demand entertainment and contact 24-7-365.

Boredom and its colleague silence are not a popular couple these days and we try to eliminate them wherever they might appear. When was the last time you sat in a cafe, pub or restaurant that didn't have background music (often foreground music)? Runners and walkers are cocooned in their playlists. Do we ever allow ourselves to be alone, in silence and without any particular plan of what to do next?

An article from BBC News, Children should be allowed to get bored, describes research carried out by Dr Teresa Belton (University of East Anglia) on children and boredom. She has interviewed people about how boredom affected their creativity as children. She found many who were inspired to creative activities through boredom and silence:

"Enforced solitude alone with a blank page is a wonderful spur."
"As I get older, I appreciate reflection and boredom. Boredom is a very creative state."
"She happily entertained herself with making up stories, drawing pictures of her stories and going to the library."

Many people today are willing to pay for retreat weekends free from noise and distractions, hoping for inspiration and balance. Silence and a lack of stimulation are becoming exclusive commodities. Maybe it's time to reassess boredom and see its positive side.

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