The Need for Boredom

Photo by Arun Sharma on Unsplash

It is almost impossible to be bored today, yet I sense we need it more than ever.

It was only 12 years ago when the iPhone was launched, I was reminded recently, and the killer app was … making a phone call. But we all know what happened after the app store opened a year later. The forces of innovation and capitalism were unleashed and small companies given a way around the bigger companies like Apple, Verizon, & Google got out of the way — we have had a flood of apps that vie for our attention.

That innovation was mostly a good thing. But we now have, like no other time in history, the ability to fill our time with diversions 24×7.

I find a need to enforce boredom through pomodoro breaks and with media fasts. When I do, my days are better.

Most important, I credit my structured boredom for helping revive my sense of wonder and imagination. Often I set a timer for five minutes and look out at the trees, the clouds, and birds. I find myself wondering about nature, thinking about my place in the world, and how lucky I am to be alive and well in this bright and amazing world. I wonder about the humming bird and it’s aerial display. I am amazed by clouds. It results in deep thoughts about technology and my potential futures.

Of course, It is not always beautiful and deep like that. Sometimes, I drift off on a mini nap, or find myself fretting about some small thing. It also results in small thoughts like, “will that bird eat some of the mosquitos please?” But most of the time it is an unexpected delight of my day.

We all need more positive, structured boredom in our lives to push back against the relentlessness of productivity and anxiety of get-it-done-ism.