I think boredom can be very useful. But I’m in the minority.
Research supports the view that we really dislike boredom. In one study, people were invited to sit in a room and do nothing for 15 minutes (click here for a summary). Nearly half of the participants reported they did not enjoy it. In another version, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to administer small electric shocks to themselves to alleviate the boredom. They preferred physical pain to doing nothing!
Judgement. That’s what we do. I judge that if I were a more creative, more resourceful individual, I would not be bored. Boredom shows that at this moment I am failing. I fight the feeling – but surely I should know what I want to do next. It’s weak not to know where I am going. A successful person always has a plan and is heading with determination in that direction!
But what if the simple feeling of boredom and not knowing is the beginning of something? (For a wonderful description of the creativity hiding beneath childhood boredom, click here.)
Next time you are bored – pause. What’s it feel like? Don’t let yourself get away with “well, it’s boring this feeling.” Instead, be curious. Is it heavy and dark? Or is it light, like you are floating away? In other words, be extraordinarily paradoxical, and find your boredom interesting! I can almost guarantee you will discover beneath it an idea for what comes next. And it won’t be the same-old-same-old. It will be something new. You may well find that what was boredom was actually you being reluctant to try something a bit different.
See for yourself. Be bored and then be brave to hang out with it!