Boredom: Initiator For Creativity

Boredom: Initiator For Creativity

Why boredom must be felt to spark creativity?


“Mom, I’m bored.” This statement is thrown around in my house at least three times daily during the long days of summer. It’s a statement I love to hate because it gives me a chance to say, “Boredom is the mother of creativity.” The kids have grown smarter and responded, “Well, you are the boredom and we are the creativity.” Touche little kids. I’ll think twice before I say this wonderful quote again in their presence.

Was boredom ever an issue when I was growing up? I’d venture to say no and to make sure I wasn’t being biased, I reached out to my Mom and asked her if I ever complained about being bored. My Mom confirmed that this wasn’t an issue. If there was a time I’d be bored, I’d go and look for something to occupy myself. I didn’t rely on anyone else to brush away my boredom blues.

I also didn’t have a lot of choices when it came to entertaining myself. I could either play outside with my neighbors or stay home in our small apartment reading or drawing. There definitely were constraints. We also didn’t have lots of screen time available to us.

These reflections point to two inquiries:

1. Am I giving my children enough agency over their day-to-day lives?

2. Are there healthy constraints established around what they are allowed to do?

When I became bored of writing this blog post, I ventured to Instagram for a bit and found exactly what I was looking for: a kindle quote posted by my friend @GailBoenning from the book “Dinner with Buddha: A Novel” by Roland Merullo:

“Boredom is the start of the spiritual path.” It made no sense to me at the time. After thinking about it for a few years, though, I’ve come to believe that there can be no spiritual path if there’s constant movement, constant stimulation, if we don’t regularly set aside a little time to contemplate the world that lies beyond the frenzy. In older times that happened automatically: try plowing a field with oxen or taking an all-day stage ride or sawing planks out of a felled chestnut tree. There were more opportunities to confront monotony, to ponder, to observe. Now every moment can be noisified–music, emails, video games, phone calls, facebook, instagram.”

Talk about an answer landing in my lap. With endless ways of stimulating the brain, there’s little space left over to feel boredom. When boredom rears its head, we struggle to truly feel it. It seems like a sin or perhaps that we are not doing life right if we feel bored.

It’s not just the kids. When I feel bored, I quickly look for ways to change my state rather than steep in it and give myself a chance to learn what the boredom might be pointing me towards. I look for quick fixes to allay my boredom as if it’s my purpose to live a high excitement-filled life.

Reflecting back to my childhood years, I recall having a schedule with a loose structure. I was allowed to play outside on the street with the neighbors’ kids if the weather was nice. When I was home, I would either read a book I borrowed from the library or attempt to draw. I recall being in the seventh grade when our house was christened with a computer. I added solitaire and minesweeper to the mix. When dial-up internet was introduced, I was allowed at most an hour on the internet. It was not my Parents’ responsibility to come up with a solution for my boredom. I knew that this was something I had to do on my own. I didn’t have a lot of choices like my kids do now but for some reason I didn’t think it was an issue. If anything, the constraints made for a richer childhood in which I recall having close connections with my siblings. Boredom gave us an opportunity to band together and create games.

In my study of emotions with the help of an Emotional Mastery course I’m taking through Lucid Living, I have learned that emotions, such as boredom are neutral. Feeling boredom can help us engage with our inner compass. It might be trying to tell us that perhaps there is not much challenge in the life we are currently leading. It’s a message that our body and mind are craving an increase in healthy tension; the kind that helps us to learn something new or dare to step into uncharted territories.

Come to think of it, boredom is a blessing. It’s a respite from too much action and stimulation. Boredom is a valley one can take refuge in before getting ready to climb the creative mountain of our choice. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a new saying to quote to my children. How do you embrace boredom and what is your favorite way of being bored?

(image courtesy of Shutterstock)


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