Bored Beyond Belief

Bored Beyond Belief

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‘Bored Beyond Belief’ is the phrase I painfully scrawled on most of my folders at school. It was from a scene in my favourite Steve Martin movie – LA Story. Steve Martin wrote the phrase on a window during a period of utter boredom, living in a world that, deep down, did not connect with him.

That scene really resonated with me at the time. I spent much of my childhood in a place between utter boredom and feeling ever so slightly insane. Not much of the world around me seemed to make sense at the time. I have spent much of my life feeling so, so bored – and it is only now that I am starting to realise why.

I was being spoonfed things to learn that weren’t relevant to the world I saw outside, and weren’t even taught in a way I could connect with. I was being forced to consume things I didn’t want and that I saw no need to consume. I had no creative outlet other than to misbehave or disrupt class.

As it turns out, boredom is the birthplace of creativity. Our brains are actually super-active when we are bored – seeking distraction, seeking things to do and to create. In order to create more, we need to give ourselves the space to become bored, so that we can channel that boredom into creating new things. Therefore, we need to spend more of our time actively initiating boredom, rather than avoiding it. We need to create more space for boredom, and find more channels and outlets for our creativity.

We are living in a world of ever-increasing consumption of things like food, alcohol, video games, internet and TV. This is an epidemic in our time and symptomatic of a problem: we are living in a world where boredom is thought to be bad, and we consume to avoid feeling it. But this is just numbing ourselves to our true ability to create. Ever-increasing consumption is the inhuman prison we are in danger of creating for ourselves and our children.

We are actually avoiding the discomfort of becoming bored and the discomfort of being faced with ourselves.

It is a constant battle, because the path of least resistance is always the urge to consume. Feeling alive and feeling the joy that comes from creativity takes a lot of work. Creativity is difficult. To create is to do something new. There is a vulnerability in that, which can be uncomfortable, so we avoid opening ourselves up to the world.

At the end of the day, to survive and thrive we have little choice but to come to terms with this. And we might just have to start getting comfortable with the discomfort of being bored. We may have to embrace that feeling, rather than trying to avoid it by passively consuming things that are in easy reach.

So the promise I have made to myself this week is to create more than I do today and consume less. I have resolved to allow boredom into my life and provide myself with more opportunities for the creative expression that comes from this.

Although this blog, the way I design my life, and my experiences, are huge channels and creative outlets – for me, the balance is still firmly weighted with consumption over creation. Whilst it has massively improved, there is still a greater balance to find.

I consume too much and create too little. For me, that has to change, because consumption feels like a numbing experience and provides only short-term enjoyment, rather than the lasting joy that comes from creation.

Will you join me?

  • Can you embrace boredom to open up the path to creativity?

  • Do you or your family consume more than you create?

  • Have you considered how this is impacting on your life?

  • How can you create more and consume less?

As always, your feedback and insights are very welcome in the comments section below.

 

Marc

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  1. We didn’t have TV when my kids were growing up. I told them only boring people get bored.

    They got the message, learned to reach inside themselves and look at life with fresh eyes, and grew to be two of the most interesting, resourceful and caring people I know.

    And yes, I realize I might be biased. 🙂

    • I’m one of those kids who grew up and I didn’t have tv until I was 11. My brother, sister and I were all so creative in what we did to self-entertain.

      Well, it was that or we were given more chores “if we were bored and had nothing to do.”

    • I don’t think there is anything wrong with bias in that case. Certainly with my son there is a big focus from limiting screen time and allowing him to focus more on creative play.

  2. Another cracking article. I find myself actively seeking laziness rather than boredom. This doesn’t apply to my sporting activities but corporate ones. What is the way I can make the most with the least possible effort. This then frees up time to do other more interesting things. It seems so unfair to other people on the treadmill of life but you need to make the decision of taking quality over quantity.

    • There is a big link with ‘laziness’ and creative problem solving. I think it was Bill Gates who said he would always recruit a lazy person to solve a tough problem.

  3. Toby,

    You ever read the book called finding the flow? I am wondering, after I read your comment here and spend a little bit of time writing in my journal, if what you are explaining is in fact not laziness, but actual engagement.

    I find this fascinating as I continue researching the highest level of professional.

    The most engaged people I have ever worked with – Olympic athletes, business owners, military leaders, community organizers – will do everything they can to have the highest possible impact with using the least possible resources.

    Resources that absolutely include time, energy and focus.

    • Thanks Jason, hadn’t heard of that book. That sounds right up my street. I am training for a marathon and recently took up chi running to expend the minimum amount of effort. As I’m built for comfort rather than speed then this technique appeals.

      Flow ties in nicely with my early life when I was a martial arts instructor. We were really into Zen techniques and meditation was not seen as being cissy but part and parcel of the training process.

      I think I will now start using the term engaged rather than lazy 🙂

  4. I agree Marc, but also think along with chances for creativity, it is more often that we don’t want to look to hard inside ourselves in case we don’t like what we see. I know you make mention of it, but I think a lot of the distraction we turn to when “bored” is actually out of pain avoidance as much as not-knowing-what-to-do. Good article!
    Cheers

  5. Hi Marc,
    I’ve been totally guilty of a consumption junky – I just love to read blogs, take courses, learn, learn, learn! And maybe I’m a tiny bit of a perfectionist but I do have problems taking the leap and “JUST STARTING”, which is, in the end, how anything ever gets done. Just start.
    So, I’ve managed to do that! Yay! But, now I have several projects that are “started” but not quite finished. And, it seems that as each deadline creeps in they do, in fact, get finished on time. But the stress isn’t serving me well. That’s for damn sure. I lose sleep over this.
    I’m eager to find a solution but for now will just keep plugging away.

    One thing that our friend Kristoffer Carter said to me, and I hear his voice in my head all the time when I’m procrastinating or complaining about all that there is to do (never ending pile of stuff!) was this:
    When you set out to do something – just do that! So, eliminating all of the shiney objects around me, email, facebook, your blog, GLP.TV, etc., etc. and just DO THAT. It helps. It makes me centered and present to the task at hand. And, I do accomplish a lot more.

    Smiles from across the miles…
    Linda

    • Hey Linda,

      Distraction is indeed all around us and being distracted is definitely something that I am guilty of.

      The tasks will never end so it is important not to be driven by them at the expense of all else. Self care first and then space for task. Learning not to burn lots of mental energy on the way is difficult. The more I get in touch with my true insignificance in the universe the easier I find it!

      Personally I try to minimise the tasks I have in life. Task zero is my life’s ambition!

      Mx

  6. That’s a nice perspective on boredom. Your posts are consistently interesting. Keep ’em coming. And hope to see you again soon!

  7. That is very attention-grabbing, You are an excessively professional blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and stay up for looking for more of your wonderful post.
    Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks

  8. Bored maybe another word for: I can’t think of anything I am interested in right now. Maybe I don’t need to be passionate about all I do.

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