Every strongly creative individual faced down serious boredom at one point in his or her life. Why? Because only through boredom, surrounded by uninteresting external stimuli, do we find the time to develop internal stimuli.
In a BBC article on boredom, Dr. Teresa Belton points out that boredom is an “uncomfortable feeling,” and so people in our modern age tend to avoid it, having an “expectation of being…constantly stimulated.” Belton goes on to point out that “children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes.”
In today’s age, if you don’t actively seek out boredom, if you don’t cultivate it, it’s almost impossible to encounter. It used to be that life was filled with waiting (the perfect boredom instigator). As Doctor Seuss put it, “Waiting for a train to go, or a bus to come, or a plane to go, or the mail to come, or the rain to go, or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.” Not anymore. You might stand in a line somewhere, but nothing to worry about, there’s your smart phone scanning Facebook or the headlines. Before Tivo and a world of 200+ channels, it used to be that there might actually not be anything good on TV!
“Neuroscientists have found that the brain is highly active when disengaged, consuming only about five percent less energy in its resting ‘default’ state than when involved in routine tasks.” This according to Dr. Mark Mintun, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, as quoted in an article in the New York Times.
I believe it’s essential, especially for those in creative professions and for children, to carve away time for yourself to be bored. Not only does that mean no TV, no Internet, not even a book, but it also means not being productive. You’ve got to just sit, friend! Get a little uncomfortable with yourself.
When you’re bored, you’ll get the chance to find out where your thoughts linger. They may surprise you. Your subconscious is at work here. Trying to tease out some intellectual idea. This is where the good stuff comes from.