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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 30, 2013

The Benefits of Boredom

By Mark Sisson
88 Comments

Set Your Imagination FreeNo matter how old – and busy – I get in life, when summer rolls around, I still think of the leisure of the season as a kid. As much as I looked forward to the open-ended days of running wild, however, at some point I’d inevitably find myself bored. My best friend would be away on vacation. The weather would be too consistent. Whatever the case, I’d find myself feeling like I’d seen and done all there was to do a million times over. I’d mope and grumble (gaining no sympathy in the process). In those days, there was no gadgetry to surrender attention to. It was mostly the power of invention and imagination – the two best aspects of childhood if you ask me. Eventually, I’d conjure something good enough to get out of my funk. In fact, my greatest schemes and misadventures seem to have came out of those lulls. The thought makes me wonder: in this age of easy preoccupation, do we undervalue boredom?

There’s an ecard floating around on Facebook of a woman sitting noting “that awkward moment” of not knowing if she really has time to sit or if she’s just forgetting everything she’s supposed to be doing. There’s adult truth in that – the endless succession of chores, work, bills, errands, calls, emails, and other obligations that overspill every hour of the day. Boredom can seem like such a remote luxury. Why, then, in the free moments we undeniably have do we so mindlessly reach for the gadgetry, newspaper, or whatever else is handy? What do we fear or loathe so deeply about being unoccupied?

Just as I think it’s a good idea for mental health to unplug from the 24/7 media stream, I’d say we do ourselves a service by leaving these gaps unfilled. Boredom certainly stands in opposition to the prevailing culture – a provocative enough feature to get my interest. We shouldn’t have time for it, we’re told, which to me usually suggests something deserves more attention than it’s getting.

Sure, we’re a species that benefited from it’s own selected-for neophilia. We got where we’re at not by drumming our fingers and yawning the day away. Get out there and migrate – darn it! Kill something. Make some better clothes, for Pete’s sake. As the research shows, we all – some of us perhaps more than others, however – are products of a gene that lit a fire under our ancestors. Today, that same “novelty-seeking” characteristic can keep us vibrant throughout our lives as we both enlarge and challenge ourselves with rich experiences. Yet, our ancestors’ ample leisure time was inevitably the resource that inspired critical inventions, imagined novel skills, and elicited pivotal strategies in facets of life as diverse as social relations and navigation for those grand adventures. Our ancestors couldn’t really have had one without the other (although it’s hard to believe they thought of it as boredom). Why do we think we can?

It’s hard to talk about experiencing boredom without also thinking about the worry of being boring as well as bored. I read something the other day that suggested we tend to not care as much about getting “boring” as we get older. As social psychologist and director of Columbia University’s Motivation Science Center, Heidi Grant Halvorson, explains, over the years we tend to be less motivated by accumulating and accessing the “new” in life (e.g. things, opportunities) and more interested in “preserving” what we already have. Likewise, she notes, research suggests we tend to view happiness less in terms of euphoria and more in terms of contentment. Although I think these age-associated patterns make sense, they likely unfold differently for different people. Speaking for myself, I would say I do more “adventurous” activities now than when I was younger, but I didn’t have the time and resources in my younger years. That said, I imagine I probably approach them differently than my 20- or even 30-something self would have. I take my time mountain climbing – not because I need the rest but because I look at the views more. I plan my trips with more time spent on fewer activities. The detail and nuance of experiences matter more to me.

Maybe boredom teaches us something similar. Can life – should life – be a string of stimulation? What do we get out of good old-fashion bouts of boredom? Beyond living in environments of genuine deprivation, it’s more a matter of engagement. Researchers have attempted to define boredom from a neurological standpoint, situating it in the context of attention and labeling it as the momentary inability to “engage in satisfying activity.” Yet, other research and conceptualizations gesture toward what lies beyond the initial agitation. Studies suggest we’re more creative in our work, for example, when we’re bored because we tend to daydream and make novel connections as a result.

Sure, it’s at first a state of frustration and longing (with a little resentment thrown in). When we finally get bored with our own irritation and give up bellyaching about the sensation, however, we end up quieting ourselves, maybe even emptying ourselves, which begins to sound (and feel) rather Zen. We might start to notice details we never have – pictures in the grain of a wooden window sill, the growth of plantings in the yard. We begin to reflect in ways we often miss – examining the arc of our lives, the growth of our kids. We’re open to what’s in front of us – or perhaps what lies deep within us. Either way, we can lose ourselves in that state and access something rich. Boredom – followed to its logical conclusion – becomes its own unique state of flow.

Like the woman in the ecard, I think we easily forget how much we get out of boredom.

I have to admit, as a Type A, it’s a challenge for me to unwind and disconnect enough to leave ample room for boredom, but I recognize it as a subtle but significant element of the Primal Blueprint in practice. I have to push myself toward inactivity and quiet, but when I do I’m always grateful. I’m not only proud of myself for resisting the temptations of all the “at-hand” distractions; I’m treated to a mental re-booting and even a new way of seeing at times. I come away feeling like I’ve followed something knowing and instinctual. Boredom isn’t so much an experience itself but our resistance to an innate level of being. Open the door more often, and you’ll get a better understanding of what’s behind it.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. When was the last time you were bored? How do you make the most of it?

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78 Comments on "The Benefits of Boredom"

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Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
3 years 6 months ago
As kids, we used boredom as the impetus for creativity, thus we found ourselves busy with our “new idea” and were no longer bored. Nowadays, kids aren’t even allowed to color outside the lines (so to speak)–there’s pre-designed Lego kits, and pre-fab doo-dad kits for just about anything a kid would ever dream up. Whatever happened to jumping into a huge pile of random Lego pieces, then spending the entire winter making a Barbie condo out of them..or doing the same with Lincoln Logs (a Barbie cabin)…or doing something equally massive with Tinker Toys? Thanks to the pre-fab kit world,… Read more »
Luke
3 years 6 months ago

Funny you mentioned Legos I just visited my 4 year old nephew who had just discovered Legos and it brought back a ton of memory’s. I’ve sense returned back home I went on eBay and bought a batch. You can buy them buy the pound! Yep that’s right a 28 year old getting into Legos again!

Deanna
Deanna
3 years 6 months ago

I bought my husband the smaller Lego Star Wars Millenium Falcon set for Christmas two years ago. His sister said she never saw anyone get so excited over a gift before. Legos rock!

Brianne
Brianne
3 years 6 months ago

Haha that’s awesome!

Paleo-curious
3 years 6 months ago

I made a point to provide my kids with open-ended toys: basic Legos rather than kits, a variety of art supplies & blank paper rather than coloring books, multi-purpose electronics & chemistry sets when they got older, that sort of idea. I also made sure their days weren’t packed to the gills with organized activities, though they did have music lessons, martial arts & such. And we didn’t own a television until they were much older. They complained a bit at the time, but by the time they were in college, they both actually thanked me!

b2curious
b2curious
3 years 6 months ago
Well, some of us get “stuck” when confronted with a huge, random pile of legos. I tried and tried building things and always wound up with square buildings. *sigh* I was always jealous of my brother’s ability to build all sorts of crazy things. Though, during my psych classes (I have a BA in psychology) I discovered that my spatial relation skills are sadly lacking. You know those lovely tests where you look at a picture of a random 3-D shape made up of cubes and then pick which one of the multiple choice pictures is that same shape from… Read more »
mamab
mamab
3 years 6 months ago

Oh yeah!! My Little Pony barns made out of lego – so awesome! I still love lego (sometimes guilty of co-ercing a kid to spend his/her Christmas money on more lego hehehheheeh) and crayons, the big box. sigh….. I love new crayons

anyway – no problems with boredom here, however, I think sometimes when my kids have friends over, the friends are bored because we don’t let them play endless playstation or computer games or stare at the TV together. Dudes … you have friends over GO PLAY!

Groktimus Primal
3 years 6 months ago

ZZZZZzzzzzzz…..

Josh Haymore
Josh Haymore
3 years 6 months ago

Embracing boredom… such a tough concept…. thank you for the post. It makes sense! I will try to disconnect more often and connect with Life’s primal benefits

Fritzy
Fritzy
3 years 6 months ago
Mark– Thanks for this post! I work as an occupational therapist. As coincidence would have it, just last night, as I was falling asleep, I started thinking about human occupation, particularly as it relates to Primal living. A great deal of our stress and anxiety (much like our physical ailments) I suspect, can likely be attributed to our current occupations being out of discord in some way with the occupations that formed our evolution. Most popular models of occupation lump our occupations into work, self care and leisure. I think these model leaves out the important element of willful lack… Read more »
Leah
Leah
3 years 6 months ago

Reminds me of something a wise teacher once told me: Boredom is simply the lack of homework.

Alison Golden
3 years 6 months ago

I have a son who gets very, very anxious about the prospect of boredom. He can’t leave the house without a raft of books or his Kindle. He will even read U-Haul brochures while he’s waiting for a meal to arrive in a restaurant! I’ve tried and tried to get him to relax, look out the window, daydream, but he just can’t do it. Must be my husband’s genes because I have no trouble. 🙂

Pure Hapa
Pure Hapa
3 years 6 months ago

That was me – getting nauseous on car rides because I was always reading a book. Reading IS relaxing to some people.

2Rae
2Rae
3 years 6 months ago
I also have a son who has trouble relaxing and “going with the flow”. We noticed when he was about 17 months old that this was part of who he is. We went on a drive to see the sun set on Hood Canal, however, he was very uncomfortable the whole time. Why? We had no destination. “Where are we going?” “For a drive, to look out the window at the pretty trees, water, sunset” …… He still struggles with it 9 years later but if we give him a pen to go with his napkin waiting in a restaurant… Read more »
Reid
Reid
3 years 6 months ago

Brilliantly insightful post, Mark. Boredom could be a gateway to meditation, which could be a gateway to self insight. Effective boredom should be defined as really doing nothing with no thought-influencing technology… not sitting, staring blankly at a television or computer.

zikzak
zikzak
3 years 6 months ago

+1

Bryan
3 years 6 months ago

Embrace boredom… very interesting, thought provoking post!

I just hope my teenager isn’t reading this. lol

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 6 months ago

I get all my chores done as soon as possible so I can sit in the sun and be bored. I love that bored time all by myself. But I do I really miss making little boats out of walnut shells and floating them down the gutters…and building model airplanes and then shooting ’em up with a BB gun!

Diane
Diane
3 years 6 months ago

I have a friend who is the master of doing nothing. He says that most people these days are just not able to do nothing. I’m fairly good at doing nothing but nowhere as good as he is. His idea of a good time is to take a lawn chair down to a creek and just sit there all day long. No book, no fishing pole, no gadgets, nothing at all. It’s really a lost ability I think.

Alyssa
3 years 6 months ago

Definitely a lost ability! That would be a real challenge for me. Even if I’m not being productive, I still feel a need to be ‘actively’ doing nothing, like reading or watching a movie. Even if I’m laying in the sun or taking a walk, I’m always listening to a podcast. One of these days I’m going to force myself to REALLY do nothing, and see what happens!

Nocona
Nocona
3 years 6 months ago

I think most people are scared shitless when they quiet down and listen and be, just doing nothing. Try living in a cave up in the Himalayas. It would drive most people mad. The ego wants you to be someone and do something. Anything. But,
When you’re nobody…you can be anybody!

Tom
3 years 6 months ago

You’ll never find “one of those days.” You have to make it. I came across a Zen concept of Active Inactivity and Inactive Activity.

Inactive Activity – plan for it. Cross off your calendar for an hour or two, and you’ll forgive yourself for not doing anything, so you can enjoy it. You will also have made “one of those days” exist.

compared to

Active Inactivity – run around like crazy, accomplish nothing.

Just realized I’m doing the latter now. I’ll go stare at the grass for 5 minutes. 🙂

raydawg
raydawg
3 years 5 months ago
We were recently on a cruise, and even there, on vacation, still felt some stress. We discovered a deck that had nearly no people on it, because most of them were inside. Unlike the top deck, you couldn’t hear any of the noise from the various announcements and partying atmosphere. No sounds from others, no sounds from airplanes or engines, or anything but pure ocean and wind. I sat in a deck chair and stared at the ocean, listening to the wind and the waves, I instantly felt the calmest calm I have ever felt, even deeper than through any… Read more »
Brian Kozmo
3 years 6 months ago
Finally I hear about someone similar to me. I sometimes even bring books on vacations and find that it mostly interferes with my ability to just relax and I don’t even start reading them. Same thing goes for watching TV, or listening to music, or using a phone – all of which I hardly do. I would say I hardly do anything others consider productive, and I’m proud of it. But it’s not boredom, and I think this is the one time Mark may be wrong. Being bored is having a lack of interest. But if one is interested in… Read more »
Graham
Graham
3 years 6 months ago

There was a story on NPR a while back, actually, discussing the fact that with all the media, devices, and electronic toys kids have access to these days to alleviate “boredom,” their creativity and intelligence is plummeting. Too bad.

I also believe if you’re bored, you’re boring. There is always something to do, create, or build.

Stace
3 years 6 months ago

Agreed! I don’t understand boredom anymore, because I always find something to enjoy even when I’m not technically doing anything. My boyfriend complains that road trips are boring, but to me they’re relaxing and fun, and I like the fact that I can space out and drive (well, not completely space out), and just take in the scenery and enjoy things for what they are. I think it’s a huge loss that most people feel like they need to be constantly entertained. Then again, I’m the type of person that isn’t bother by silence.

Kevin
Kevin
3 years 6 months ago

I have to remind myself every now and again when i have this strange compulsion to pull out my smart phone for no particular reason that it is okay to simply “be”.

Most people, are x1000 worse at this than I am however.

Mark P
3 years 6 months ago

I agree with what Graham said.

I was super imaginative and creative as a young kid, but when I hit high school and was hooked on the computer and video games, all of that seemed to disappear.

ian
ian
3 years 6 months ago
On a recent flight from Hong Kong to Chicago, i had 15 hours to embrace boredom. I’ve recently adopted Stoicism as well, so found the “down” time quite pleasant. Rather than complain about being stuck on a plane for 15 hours, I I instead used the time to think about how lucky I was to even be in my situation and how i couldn’t wait to see my family. I used negative visualization to think about how much worse it could be: i could be stuck in the back of the plane in a middle seat, my flight could have… Read more »
Graham
Graham
3 years 6 months ago

Everything you mentioned: awesome.

Paleo-curious
3 years 6 months ago

When I was a kid I filled my many bored moments with constant doodling. Now I’m a professional artist/illustrator. Cautionary tale! 😉

These days I deliberately cultivate a pattern of periodic “boredom”– although I never think of it as such. I like to load my head with a barrage of ideas & images, then set aside times of emptiness to allow my brain to make connections in peace. If I don’t have those contemplative times, my creative flow really suffers.

nadavegan
nadavegan
3 years 6 months ago

Two of my favorite quotes:

“There are no boring places, only boring people.” – Anonymous

“I can never seem to get enough of Nothing To Do.” GK Chesteron

Rhonda the Red
Rhonda the Red
3 years 6 months ago

I have thought so often how much I would love to be bored. There’s always too much to do!

Janice James
Janice James
3 years 6 months ago

When I retired, I vowed to spend more time in my flower garden. I put in automatic sprinklers and other easy-care features. Then I had nothing to do out there. So I turned off the sprinklers and now I sit in my garden every afternoon with the water hose, and do the job by hand. My mind runs as free and far as it does in the shower.

Tasha
3 years 6 months ago

Boredom can be really detrimental for people with mental illness. When I’m feeling depressed, boredom just leaves time for negative thoughts to infiltrate. Keeping busy is the only way to keep that at bay. I like the idea of feeling “at peace” with nothing to do or think about, but it’s difficult for me to practice. I have too much fear associated with boredom.

Julia
Julia
3 years 6 months ago

I agree. Boredom can fuel depression. But I think sometimes depression can fuel boredom. Something I noticed was that when I felt depressed, activities that I used to enjoy were extremely unsatisfying.

Nick
Nick
3 years 6 months ago

Charles Eisenstein has an interesting view on boredom
http://www.ascentofhumanity.com/chapter1-4.php

2Rae
2Rae
3 years 6 months ago
I agree that boredom can help be a catalyst to creativity. My son has produced some amazing things from being bored. I would suggest a paper and pencil and he’d be off and creating in no time. We were waiting in line one day, a beautiful warm sunny day after months of cold dreary rain, not bored with the wait. However, the couple who were waiting in line after us were worried that they should go someplace else to get faster service. Being the not shy person that I am, I suggested that they enjoy the boredom of waiting in… Read more »
KD
KD
3 years 6 months ago

I was never bored as a kid. But we could go anywhere, goof off all day, and not have to worry about things like trespassing, fishing laws, etc. Now if you step off your own front porch, you’d better have permission! It also seems like you can’t go anywhere and be alone. There’s too many people nowadays. (at least below the arctic circle, lol)

Nannsi
Nannsi
3 years 6 months ago
“Nothing to do” is not synonymous with boredom, in my book. I would not be at all inclined to “embrace boredom,” or to assign it any benefits. It’s a pretty negative state, and I have lots of stories of all the trouble I got into as a child that resulted from it. 😉 Boredom defined as the momentary inability to “engage in SATISFYING activity” says it all. There’s a physical and spiritual restlessness inherent in boredom. It signals a dissatisfaction not with what we aren’t doing, but with what we are doing: unproductive, uninspiring, purposeless, empty. (Blah! I hate this.… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 6 months ago

Nassi – I agree. It’s not boredem that’s helpful. It’s the downtime. The empty space that offers rest and inspiration.

I don’t have the free time to waste being bored by staring off into space anymore. But I do have several boring or really mindless routines that keep the house clean, etc. I find I have most of my ideas during those times when I’m physically engaged but not mentally so.

When I do have recreation time, I use boredom as a signal to move or do something else.

Amy
Amy
3 years 6 months ago

First sorry, I should have typed Nannsi. Also, this:

“It’s a pretty negative state, and I have lots of stories of all the trouble I got into as a child that resulted from it.”

reminds me of the saying “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.”

Yes, boredom can inspire creativity but creativity isn’t always positive. 😉

Ara
Ara
3 years 6 months ago

I agree, Nannsi. I hate being “busy”. Always have. So I make it a point to keep a pretty empty schedule except for work because I love the down time, but I’m never bored. I just like having the freedom to do what I want including just being…

Julia
Julia
3 years 6 months ago

This article made me think of that show Phineas and Ferb – two bored kids looking for things to do over summer. It’s a cartoon, so the possibilities are endless. It’s worth watching at least once, especially if you’re interested in the subject of boredom.

Jacob
Jacob
3 years 6 months ago

Love me some Perry the Platapus 🙂

Paul
3 years 6 months ago

A LITTLE boredom is a good thing – 10-15 minutes here and there to daydream.

But constant boredom is absolutely dreadful – I’ve experienced it the past year while living in Turkey, due to an inability to find a truly expansive social circle, and it’s really harmed other aspects of my life (namely productivity while working on my own side projects).

Tim Ferriss has a quote I really like about boredom: “The opposite of happiness isn’t sadness – it’s boredom”

Tony Federico
3 years 6 months ago
I love this! I recently spoke with Kevin Geary on the Rebooted Body podcast and during our discussion of my upcoming AHS 2013 presentation on social media use and addiction, we came upon the topic of boredom. What came out is that “bored” simply means “before becoming creative”! How many times were we all “bored” as kids? Didn’t we “escape” by creating detailed imaginative games and daydreams? What is the consequence of always being “entertained”? I’m glad Mark is talking on this “bigger picture” pieces of the Primal puzzle and look forward to more! You can also check out my… Read more »
Meesha
Meesha
3 years 6 months ago

daughter: “Mom, I’m bored.”
me: “I know! Isn’t it great?”

I miss being bored. Really bored, not, I’m-staring-at-a-report-that-I-don’t-want-to-write bored.

Heather
Heather
3 years 6 months ago
I really dislike the new trend of tv/CD player in vehicles. It drives me crazy that no one allows their kids to be bored anymore. We go on frequent 3 hour car trips (and several longer trips/year), and our kids (4 and 7) have NEVER watched a video. Our last trip they occupied themselves for almost 2 hours with their *computers* – large pieces of cardboard that they drew computer screens and keyboards on. My 7 year old even designed a game for hers and was *playing* it. I love to watch the things they come up with on these… Read more »
Meredith
Meredith
3 years 6 months ago

This is a great topic as I LOVE to be bored – at home. Boredom at work is a killer but at home it’s great. I relax and listen to what is going on around me – I do not put the TV on or pick up the phone. Instead, it’s a great time to get to know your environment. It can be really peaceful. Then you ultimately stumble upon something to do and it passes…..or you take a nice nap!

Alain B.
Alain B.
3 years 6 months ago
one really good book about on the topic is the very simple Tao of Pooh. It sums up the bisy Bacson – run till you die vs the simple state of being. How hard is it today for people not to be connected is scary. I always smile when my wife has to tell/explain to someone that she does not own a cell /smart/ padthingy phone – the expression on their faces (reboot….) I often tell my kids when they complain about being bored that I’m not a clown etc… and that spying on a rock is fun !
KariVery
KariVery
3 years 6 months ago
This is interesting – I think it also goes along with how many people can stand to be alone – maybe the same kinds of reasons people crave constant entertainment is that fear of being “left” alone. I know for myself, now that I am in my late 40s, I am very much at peace being alone and I am rarely ever bored anymore because I have become comfortable with myself, and I try to be present in the moment. I actually prefer to be on my own if a situation becomes dull these days, but when I was younger,… Read more »
KariVery
KariVery
3 years 6 months ago

Meant to say how people CAN’T stand to be alone (makes a little more sense, I hope!)

docrio
3 years 6 months ago

Perfect timing! I keep talking to my 8 and 12 year old kids that it’s good for them to be bored, and no, they can’t have electronics to assuage their boredom. Thanks for the timely read! I’ll pass it on to my son.

mel
mel
3 years 6 months ago
great post! personaly, i find i challenge myself too often. school, career, physical feats (marathon, triathlon etc). but now that i’m about to turn 40, i am finding it so important to stop DOING all the time and embrace the BEING a lot more. i have always related the doing to feelings of acceptance, love, admiration. but now i realize that it is often those “feats” that distracted people from who i am. so while i definitely do less goal-oriented things, if i’m putzing around at home i do definitely feel uncomfortable and feel like i should be doing something… Read more »
Jo
Jo
3 years 6 months ago
Y’see, I must have intuitively known I was onto something all these years… My mum never sits still – she’s a pensioner, but is ALWAYS on the go, “doing” something. Sometimes just looking at her makes ME feel exhausted! And she’s always tried to instill this in me – I’ve regularly been told from childhood that I’m lazy, “like my dad”. True, my dad is the exact opposite to her in this – he takes his time over things, and is often in a world of his own. But he’s also designed and built (and still building more of) his… Read more »
Patrick
3 years 6 months ago
Daydreaming is vital to me, it’s a stress buffer for everyday life and a place where, because the limits are off, I come up with my best ideas – by no means all of them intended to get me back DOING busy-busy-busy work, either! Just thoughts, insights, stuff like that… Anyone who’s dubious about how it’s the people creaming off our taxes who are the most ardent evangelisers of the work ethic should read the link I’ve (hopefully) managed to add on my name to this post, of educated and insightful quotes against work, especially the futile sort that kills… Read more »
Megan
Megan
3 years 6 months ago
Fear of boredom, I believe, is less a reflection of our inability to sit still and enjoy the moment than it is a result of society’s disdain for doing nothing. We are encouraged to go-go-go all the time, no matter what it is we’re doing: work, chores, errands, even play, with structured rules and regulations. We have been convinced that those who do nothing ARE nothing, and as a result we are programmed to do everything, all the time. In Europe, vacation is a right, not a privilege. Long lunches are indulged by both mailroom kids and CEOs alike. Many,… Read more »
Bob Crason
Bob Crason
3 years 6 months ago

“Boredom is part of the discipline of meditation practice. This type of boredom is cool boredom, refreshing boredom. Boredom is necessary and you have to work with it. It is constantly very sane and solid, and very boring at the same time. But it’s refreshing boredom. The discipline then becomes part of one’s daily expression of life. Such boredom seems to be absolutely necessary. Cool boredom.”

– Chögyam Trungpa

Dave M
Dave M
3 years 6 months ago

Mark’s post reminds me of some recent reading I was doing about peoples’ initial reactions to being submerged in sensory deprivation tanks. At first the mind jumps around like a game of pong on steroids trying to attach itself to something. Then finally, like a tired puppy after a romp, it settles down into a blissful quietude and just . . is.

Katie C.
Katie C.
3 years 6 months ago

Unplug from the 24/7 media stream says the online blog post.

Shary
Shary
3 years 6 months ago

I spent way too many years running myself ragged with a job and single parenting to ever object to having too much leisure time. I love being bored. I put those empty moments to good use, either meditating or taking a cat nap. Then, rejuvenated, I get up and go do something else.

Sarah
3 years 6 months ago

Love this, very true. I sometimes just sit on my balcony and look out at my lake to feel the wind and enjoy the ducks, fish, turtles and birds as they swoop down for a meal or drink of water. It’s very centering.

Petra
3 years 6 months ago

Indeed Like Sarah wrote, it is centering. Just sit and enjoy, observe and be still.

Thanks for the reminder.

George
George
3 years 6 months ago

“You’re bored because you’re a boring person”

— Vanessa to Rudy, The Cosby Show

BigDogMomma
BigDogMomma
3 years 6 months ago
OMG. Hubby is 11 years older than me and retired 2 years ago. Moved to Florida to a gated community with golf, tennis, mahjong… Sounds great, but at 55 I’m not a golfer, don’t play tennis, and the only mahjong I know is the online solitaire type. I’m fine in a social situation, but not a social person. Yep, I’m BORED STIFF. I thought I’d get back into the workplace, but coming from Silicon Valley the available jobs here are not only few and far between, but extremely low level. Then I found a posting I thought might work for… Read more »
Patrick
Patrick
3 years 6 months ago
Right, healthcare is advancing on the “wack-a-mole” theory that people develop diseases, be they degenerative, infectious, all sorts, and then wise doctors step in and fix them, yes? But the fixes are wayyy too high-tech now for everyone even in developed nations to be able to afford them from their own pocket, so we group funds together, be it via socialist-style state taxes that provide free-at-the-point-of-use system like the UK or Canada etc., or through an insurance company like the US system. The majority healthy pay for the minority unhealthy right now, and in exchange they know they’re covered in… Read more »
Patrick
Patrick
3 years 6 months ago
“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to… Read more »
Patrick
3 years 6 months ago
And I have more: “The anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, surveying the data on contemporary hunter-gatherers, exploded the Hobbesian myth (*that life in the past was nasty, brutish and short*) in an article entitled “The Original Affluent Society.” They work a lot less than we do, and their work is hard to distinguish from what we regard as play. Sahlins concluded that “hunters and gatherers work less than we do; and rather than a continuous travail, the food quest is intermittent, leisure abundant, and there is a greater amount of sleep in the daytime per capita per year than in any other… Read more »
Brian Kozmo
3 years 6 months ago
Patrick! I think I am one of the few who agrees with you, and I am also familiar with the primitivism site you linked. I am also interested in seeking a solution (I’ve only been inactively seeking so far) to having to live a contemporary life. I would LOVE to find a way of not having to earn a living, but it is infeasible on one’s own. Even Christopher McCandless died trying. All the paleo people here may advocate a paleolithic lifestyle and try and incorporate it into their modern lives, like refraining from driving and biking instead, go barefoot… Read more »
Patrick
Patrick
3 years 6 months ago
I’m not too concerned (with respect 🙂 ) whether many people agree with me – any idea that sets conventional wisdom on its head always seems crank-y, unnatural, even irresponsible and damaging at first (I bet a few avid readers here once thought this about a high-fat diet) so I was just putting the ideas out there because someone might benefit from a different way of looking at this issue. My main thing is to do the least amount of work possible, saving my perfectionist/obsessive side only for projects that really inspire me, and to keep in mind that the… Read more »
Andrea
Andrea
3 years 6 months ago

One of my 3 children has Autism and I have often thought that a secret gift she gives is slowing down! We end up spending more time at home than other families and my other 2 cannot be over scheduled due to her inability to handle change. Being “stuck” at home forces us to connect more and we end up playing more games or blasting music! Another plus side for me is it has strengthened my love for cooking! I am also a teacher so off with my children this summer. Bring on the boredom!

Brian Kozmo
3 years 6 months ago

I’d say this may be a false use of the word boredom. Being leisurely and sitting around relaxing, thinking, daydreaming, does not necessarily quantify boredom. Boredom, to me, is a condition resulting from a sudden loss of titillation and euphoria. Tribal people that can seemingly sit around for hours doing nothing are not experiencing boredom, but tranquility. Boredom is a modern problem resulting from excess.

Henrik
3 years 6 months ago

What can I say, as a fellow type A I can relate. Although I’ve been heavily influenced by Zen, Buddhism and everything related in the last decade. I find it fascinating, so I do enjoy my quiet time.

But I still feel the pull to constantly check my email and do stuff. I’ve found that when I least want to take a break, that’s when I need it most.

Oh life, how fascinating are thee 😉

liza
liza
3 years 6 months ago

To me:

Boredom is a symptom of a lack of focus. Or the inability or refusal to let your mind wander.
Boredom indicates a surplus of time, so the time was the critical resource. Not the boredom. I doubt our ancestors were ever bored. The ones with focus were the ones using their spare time to create and invent.

Julia
Julia
3 years 5 months ago
As children when we complained about being bored my mother would tell us to make a ‘boredom jar’. We had to write down all the things we could do next time we were bored. Inevitably we would come up with some great idea we could go do there and then like build a hut or go for a bike ride. As an adult that still sticks with me. For 9 months of the year (winter to summer) I have an awesome job working outdoors where I never get bored. The payoff is 3 months of having to work inside over… Read more »
Animanarchy
Animanarchy
3 years 5 months ago
This post’s picture is kind of like the view from my shelter. It’s a wooden box. I too notice pictures in wood grains when I’m bored. When I was staying in a large metal shed, mostly unused – that’s why I could stay there – and the weather was still cold and I was tired I’d listen to my cd player and often stare at the sky, the forest, or the beams. I found a lot of interesting faces and sometimes the moods they seemed to convey happened to correlate with what I was thinking. I don’t know if that… Read more »
Evan Brand
2 years 6 months ago
This is pretty timely. I just wrote 5 things you could be doing instead of sitting on technology. http://notjustpaleo.com/5-things-instead-of-technology/ I think you and I talked about it on the podcast too.. People think that always being busy is some sort of symbol of “being cool” and having no time to sit and just watch a fire spark in front of you is how you should be or you’re not successful. Our constant attitude to continually seek and seek for things out there is preventing us from happiness! It’s when we sit down, stop the rat race and take a breath… Read more »
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