“Boredom is the beginning of creativity,” I would tell my children when they lamented, “Mama, I’m BORED!” I would then look at them and say, “What are you going to do about it?” I would watch as they’d shift from one leg to another, roll their eyes from side to side, and finally smile—a signal that their unique natures had helped them find an interesting way to spend their time. Off they would scoot to some creative project, a good book, physical activity or simply play.
Sometimes I think that boredom in our country is treated like a weakness. We keep our children active, involved, consumed by their activities. Much stress is put on Moms (and Dads) to carpool them to lessons in everything from piano and dancing to cooking for kids and t-ball. Parents become completely responsible for and involved in their entertainment.
Busyness keeps kids out of trouble. But keeping them too busy robs them of the opportunity that enables the mind to know what to do now—what to do next. Of course, there is nothing wrong with organized activities. But too much of a good thing can stifle a child’s ability to entertain himself or herself. They need boredom occasionally to allow their brains to recharge and prep for the next creative challenge.
One wonders if all of this rushing about and filling every moment with activity might not be the cause of the massive amount of stress and situational depression we suffer as a community. We don’t allow ourselves time to process our experiences on an emotional level—and learn the spiritual lessons of life. (This, of course, is different than clinical depression.) Though technology has brought wonderful things into our lives, it has also enabled us to keep constantly “in touch,” never spending quiet time alone or having a moment of boredom.
I sometimes struggle with boredom myself. I shouldn’t. I have enough work to kill a plow horse, and I have family and friends who are always both a source of companionship and responsibility. But being bored is good for the soul. It precedes the “aha” moments in life. If that sounds impossible, think of it this way: without the empty mental space that boredom allows, nothing new and exciting can fill it. Boredom forces me to look outward, inward, resolve problems and make changes in my life–to discover that sweet spot of doing nothing.
This approach works in my writing. The time spent “cooking” my work—in other words the time when I allow my ideas to tumble around in the back of my mind while I do nothing at all about them—is well spent.
So, the next time your children (or your inner child) says, “Mommy, I’m BORED,” respond with “Boredom is the beginning of creativity. What are you going to do about that?” You will be pleasantly surprised at how much, if given time, your spirit can access and guide its creative nature—if it has the opportunity and permission to be occasionally bored.