Boredom. . .not always a bad thing

Years ago, I found myself telling a client that throwing punches and chairs at a casual summer bbq was not actually normal behavior.  I don’t like to use the word “normal” with my clients because we all have our own respective definitions of that word.  I think it’s normal (and quite tasty) to eat kimchi with my pizza, but most of you would probably scowl at such a combination.  My client gave me a perplexed expression on his face when I suggested that violence at a bbq was not normal.  He replied with, “Really….because it’s all I’ve ever known.”

Can we all agree that was a sad response?

I went on to describe the type of backyard bbq’s I’ve attended….where we all gather around the food and drinks (yes, there’s usually beer available…but no one is getting drunk)….laugh, talk with individuals or small groups….we might even participate in a squirt gun fight with the kids….or break out some music to dance to.  His response to my description was, “That does sound much healthier than the bbq’s I’ve attended, but it also sounds b-o-r-i-n-g.”

He’s 100% right.

From his particular history of experience and perception, my bbq’s are boring.  Some of you reading this might even agree with him. And here’s the kicker: healthy living is boring.  Yes, it’s true.  If I were to video record any of the bbq’s I’ve hosted or attended, you would yawn during the entire video because there’s nothing thrilling about watching people eat, talk, giggle and play with squirt guns.  The video would appear very boring.

But I’ve never FELT bored with these interactions.  Being of sound mind and body means many many moments of boredom….the very thing we all fear (along with death) is boredom.  Because with boredom, comes the quieting of the mind and humans don’t usually appreciate a quiet mind because of the unaddressed demons that spin around, disturbing our peace.  Plus, we tend to believe that boredom is associated with laziness and if you’re a lazy person, then you’re not busy enough.  And if you’re not busy enough, you’re not being productive.  And if you’re not being productive, you’re not good enough.  It’s an irrational belief, but it’s one that most of us believe and are driven by.

However….what I have found with moments, minutes, and hours of boredom is an openness. To creativity, to new ideas, and to people. I was bored last week so I just sat there with the TV on, but not really engaged in whatever program was airing at the time.  And then I remembered my watercolor paints. So I broke those out, started painting and in the midst of painting, I came up with an idea for my upcoming class.  I’m not a professional artist and most of what I paint doesn’t get seen by others, but the very act of it opens my mind up to other possibilities about other areas of my life.  It’s a beautiful chain of very subtle, implicit events…all because I was bored. If you’re not yelling or throwing chairs at people during a backyard bbq, you are more open to a different kind of interaction or relationship with them.

Remember day dreaming in class when you were young?  The day dreams would include something fun or engaging or maybe even a vision of who you wanted to be when you grew up.  As adults, we need a little room to day dream….to be bored so that our creative brain can get activated.  We are a highly anxious group of mammals who need to allow for moments of boredom.  And if you wait until everything on your to-do list is complete, you’ll never be bored because there will always be something to do.

So stop doing what you’re doing.

Be bored.

Imagine.

Day dream.

Create.