Why You Need to Be Bored

This week, I had a medical thing. Although it wasn’t terribly interesting, at the end of the day it did mean that I spent the better part of a week laid up in bed. “Bed” meant a few different things, including: lying in my own bed clacking away at the computer/taking conference calls, lying in the guest bed watching reality TV, lying on the couch in the living room reading about colonial East Africa, and lying on my daughter’s mini-bed/crib as she played with her rats.

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Suffice it to say, it was an exciting week, and aside from the moment where the perpetually troubled Survivor contestants kicked off the one player I didn’t want them to and forced me to scream at the television, my heart rate pretty much stayed at negligible levels. And that wasn’t a bad thing.

Being bored, more generally, is often a good thing — a really good thing — and this week was just one more reminder of the fact that having less to do, and being under-stimulated, can sometimes be one of the smartest things we do. At least for a season.

This week alone my low pressure state of affairs meant that I managed to do some key things (most of which thankfully had nothing to do with the aforementioned reality television programming). I did some good work. I got some good rest and leisure in. And I had ideas.

It’s this last point that I most credit boredom with ushering in. I find that it’s hardest to have real, genuine, life-changing ideas when I’m stuffed to the brim with activity. For me, one of the only ways to truly dig deep and think hard about what I want and how I plan to get there is by getting away from the fray. Whether that’s at a cabin in the woods (best), or in the comfort of your own bed with some of the regular life stuff still happening around you (still pretty good), the importance of boredom should never be underestimated.

And although I no longer have the leisure I did in my singleton twenties to spend an entire year bored in Mexico (one of the best years of my life, and a story for another time), I can still find pockets of time for boredom and reap the benefits along the way.

So go ahead, get bored.

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2 thoughts on “Why You Need to Be Bored

  1. I try to use those moments in long lines (especially at this time of year) for moments of boredom–or letting my mind wander to the bigger picture.