What to do when bored
When was the last time you were bored?
It is an uncommon phenomenon in today's age of smart TVs, phones, and computers... But when I was a kid I was always bored. Nowadays when we feel the slightest bit of discomfort or boredom we reach for something to pacify it.
Are we terrified to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts?
What will we find inside the recesses of our silent and entertained brain?
Through boredom I nurtured curiosity, thought deeply, questioned reality, created fantasy lands, and sometimes had a multiple hour long staring contest.
Boredom is healthy and beneficial and should be embraced.
Turn off your WiFi, put your phone inside a closed drawer, and unplug your TV.
After twiddling your thumbs, scavenging the refrigerator, counting the number of cracks on your ceiling, and organizing your sock drawer-- you'll finally admit you're actually bored and consider doing some of the things on my list.
1. put together a puzzle 300+ pieces
2. grab a journal and make 10 idea lists
3. play a board game, card game, or dice game-- and if you get really bored invent a new game!
4. fantasize about your future... dream bigger than ever before and get it down on paper.
You must be bored for a long time before this... Otherwise you will think too small and just try to shave off a little boredom. I want you to dig deep and dream of something that would normally scare you to death.
You have to be thinking far enough ahead that you can turn off the analytical part of your brain that start to try and figure our HOW to accomplish what you are thinking about.
So, I like to think 10 or 20 years into the future.
What do you want your life to look like?
Who do you want to be?
Who are your friends? What do your friends like to do?
What does your family look like and what are your values?
What trips have you taken and what did you love about them?
How will you answer the silly question "what do you do for a living?" (I hate this question... there are so many better questions to ask a stranger, and I'll make an idea list for this soon)
What are your hobbies? You had 20 years to improve on them... You could be a master woodworker, cabinet maker, locksmith, thief, painter, singer, dancer, juggler, clown, or whatever else you want!
Or you could spend the next 20 years watching Amazon Prime.
Whatever you want, just think big, scare yourself, and don't worry about how your are going to accomplish it.
You can use 10 idea lists to start to break down these dreams, but start with the big picture.
5. take a long, long walk.
This doesn't have to be a Stephen King level walk... 400+ miles, four miles per hour, no breaks... But just long enough you get a bit uncomfortable. Then when you reach this level of discomfort sit down on a bench and stare at a tree, a bird, a flower, or the clouds moving over head.
Pay attention to how your brain feels. Does it feel different than normal? Is it cataloging ideas, dreaming new ideas, does it feel like it's spinning as fast as one of the old windows operating system discs?
Ask yourself where this feeling is during a normal day... Wonder about what you are missing out on by not harassing this power more frequently.
You may not completely understand it (I don't), but you know it is healthy and natural and good.
You may be tempted to write something down on this bench, but don't. Just sit with your ideas... Allow them to percolate, marinate, and erode grooves into your conscious mind.
What you are feeling may be a connection between your right and left hemispheres or maybe it is as connection between your subconscious and conscious brains... Or maybe something else entirely. Maybe it is a connection with the spirit within you.
Either way. You will find this to be more addictive than your phone, but you'll forget about it quickly because your phone pacifies your brain enough to keep you comfortable and warm and entertained.
6. start working on a hobby you've wanted to work on for a long time
some of the hobbies I want to work on over the next 20 years:
1) furniture making-- my grandfather did this and could walk into a JC Penny and then go home and duplicate whatever he found there. He often did this for family, friends, and church members. When he died I went to his church for the funeral and it was completely full of furniture that he had made. Shelves in the bathrooms, library book shelves, organizers for coffee, tables, chair, benches, etc.
3) piano-- I've got a good foundation here, but I want to be able to improve more!
4) survival skills-- I want to be able to hike one of the word's peaks
5) whittling / carving
7) comedy... there's something about comedians and their transparency, honesty, and the ability for them to see what is really going on in the lives of the people around them. It is a major art.
8) country singing... I've been in choir and have sung my whole life. Once I get my guitar playing down I want to record some country albums... Why not?
...this should probably be an idea list of its own... So I'll stop here, now that you've got the picture!
7. Sit and do nothing
Similar to idea #5, but allow yourself to do absolutely nothing for as long as possible. Don't meditate, unless that is what happens on its own. Don't pray, unless it happens, and try not to fall asleep...
But, don't stop anything from happening either. Just be with yourself and go wherever your mind happens to go. Allow it to wander through the forest of your deep subconscious and just observe what is happening.
Watch the clouds go by, count the sheep in the pasture, and or try to count to a million. Or do absolutely nothing.
The saying, "It's like watching paint dry," will have nothing on you. This will be worse. Because being alone with yourself is terrifying and electrifying.
If you hate yourself that's okay. Doing this will help you love yourself. You'll learn that your thoughts aren't actually yours. They are just there. Always there. Never ceasing.
And just like the clouds, the sheep, the counting to one million you'll be comfortable with these thoughts from nowhere because they are a warm blanket on cold night, they are as reliable a the sunrise and the sunset, and they will never leave you. Everyone else will leave you eventually... But these thoughts never will.
We don't move enough... maybe if you get bored playing follow the leader around your house will become interesting and fun. Or perhaps you'll want to stretch or self massage your sore neck and shoulders.
When was the last time you laid on your back and stuck your legs in the air and played with your feet? When you were a kid you did this all the time. And unless you recently went to a yoga class and did the happy baby pose you probably haven't done this since then.
Maybe go climb a tree... if you can. Don't fall out and don't blame me if you get hurt.
When did it become difficult for you to do what you did when you were a kid? Does this mean you are aging?
Why do I sit so much when getting up and moving feels so good.
Why do I forget how good it feels to move.
I just don't know... Only when I'm bored to I realize how much I love my flexibility, my muscles, my ability to crawl on the ground, climb a tree, or swim in a lake.
9. Write a poem, song, or short story
This entire idea list is the result of extreme boredom. I'm up in the mountains, completely disconnected from reality, and have detoxed almost completely from dopamine. I'm feeling creative, silly, wise, scared, courageous, weak, strong, bored, and entertained.
How is that possible?
Did I discover a secret superpower of boredom induced productivity and creativity?
10. Chew your food 1,000 times per bite
We don't chew our food enough.
Have you ever tried to chew each fork full of food 20 times?
If that's difficult for you to do it means you aren't chewing your food enough.
That's why you have poor digestion, a bloated stomach, poor bowel movements, and it's why you may feel depressed.
Your body is spending way more energy than it should be trying to break down your food.
Chew longer. Chew until it is liquid. Chew until you forget that you are chewing. Chew until all you have in your mouth is air. And then keep chewing.
Your entire plate of food will be cold... But who cares. Why does it matter? Keep on chewing.