For some of us reading this, we remember a time when we lived a predominantly analog life. Sure, we had TVs and used internet-free computers, but life as we knew it often required our own personal intervention to make things happen and to entertain ourselves. The obvious difference today is that there’s far too much content with which to eradicate any ounce of boredom we might have.
Our failure to embrace boredom, or at the very least understand its critical role in our lives, is like turning over the controls to somebody else. Or wait, have we already done that? Most of us swipe over to social media to eagerly double tap away our spare moments. You see it too often that it’s almost a race to see who reaches in their pocket the moment there’s a bit of dead air at a social event.
But one thing is certain: those moments where you’re actively addressing “boredom” involves you setting the agenda. You’re providing yourself with the sandbox and are hopefully finding ways to engage in it. It’s these situations where you can pull up something you need to solve, or worse yet, think profoundly about some deep-rooted problems that are affecting you.
Working through these problems in your mind have compounding benefits in that they return control to you but also allow you to deep dive and come to terms with what is important and meaningful to you. Boredom has been a pretty powerful tool to help figure out where you are at any given moment in time and to untangle our difficult and complex lives.
It’s part personal therapy, but also an additional way of exploring solutions that may be applied in different situations. More often than not, many problems are the same on a foundational level. It’s a communication problem, it’s a relationship problem or what have you. But core dissection brings you some rather interesting tools that can be applied to future challenges. As the saying goes, “give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.”
In this instance, you’re extracting insights that have long-term ramifications. I’ve had a fair number of people come to me and ask for insight into what they should do, and I often ask them bluntly, “well, what do YOU want to do?” More often than not, there isn’t a ton of clarity around that question. Why is that, I wonder? I truly believe that we’re so consumed in analyzing the agendas of others, often through the lens of social media and entertainment, that we fail to look at our own agendas and write our own narratives. Where boredom would afford us the time to reflect on and entertain these, we’ve instead painted over the goals we might have, convinced they’re comparatively too boring to act on.