In Praise of Boredom

It happens this way …

“If my kids ever said, ‘I’m bored,’ I would say, ‘That is great. I’m so glad to hear that. Maybe you’re gonna get creative right now.’”  – Krista Tippett, founder and CEO of The On Being Project

Used to be when someone told me they were bored, I would arrogantly think to myself, What a failure of imagination! Boredom means you’ve lost your ability to dream and create.

Now, after reading Krista Tippett’s take on the subject, I have my tail between my legs. I realize that boredom doesn’t mean we’ve lost anything. It means we’re being offered the space to shut down distractions so our imaginations can breathe and expand.

For those of us who grew up with the belief that we are of little value if we are not producing something – a clean house, piles of reports, crossed off to-do lists – boredom seems a counter-productive waste of time. Yet, what this mental state offers is some moments of calm so we can discover something astonishing about ourselves and/or our world; that is, if we can avoid the temptation to check email or Facebook again, read Google News headlines again, surf the Web for some DYI project we may or may not want to pursue – again.

My name is Carolyn and I’m a recovering work addict. Now in retirement, I’ve embraced a Spanish proverb as my daily mantra: “It is beautiful to do nothing and rest afterwards.” That’s not boredom. It’s the wide-open space to dream and imagine.

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