The Power of Boredom, Breaks and Creativity
“This week’s edition of The Sunday Paper is dedicated to the benefits of boredom. Today, we share insights from Architects of Change who can educate you on the value of taking a break from the norm, and how doing so will allow you to tap into your creativity and find your voice to dream.”
Let’s face it. Boredom has a bad rap.
Or, at least it had a bad rap with me for the longest time. I grew up thinking that there was almost nothing worse than being bored. So, I worked, and I worked, and I busied myself, and I did everything I could to try and stay two steps ahead of the old boredom curse.
“Nothing worse than being bored,” I’d tell myself and my children.
But lately, I’ve found myself challenging my beliefs about boredom. And, I’ve actually found myself craving it. I’ve found myself longing for some silence. Some time away. Some time to turn off and give myself the space to think, create, and daydream.
I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling. Why? Because I see too many of us running through life with no time to think. No time to reflect. No time to be creative. No time to check ourselves. No time to get to know our evolving selves. No time to ask, “Am I doing what I want to do? Am I living aligned with who I am? Or, am I living in fear? Am I just running around because I’m too afraid to slow down and take a break?”
Funny enough, as soon as I started contemplating boredom and my own desire for it, I started seeing books about its benefits everywhere. I started reading articles warning us that we lose boredom at our own peril—as individuals, and as a culture. I started reading essays written by wise people who took the time to be bored, and discovered that they learned a lot about life, love and themselves in the process.
As I was contemplating the concept of boredom this week and reading more about it, my colleagues at The Sunday Paper informed me that July is actually labeled “Anti-Boredom Month.” Really? Isn’t summer the perfect time to catch an opportunity for a break?
So, this week’s edition of The Sunday Paper is dedicated to the benefits of boredom. Today, we share insights from Architects of Change who can educate you on the value of taking a break from the norm, and how doing so will allow you to tap into your creativity and find your voice to dream.
I’m going to go out and try boredom today, and I hope you will be brave enough to join me. Take time away from the screaming and hollering of the nonstop news cycle. Put down your phone and all of those other screens that keep you so connected to other people’s voices that you can’t recognize your own. Spend some time with you.
Yes, you. Spend some time alone in the quiet. Twiddle your thumbs. Look up at the sky. Notice your surroundings. Listen for your voice. It’s there that you will find your mission. I’ve learned that the latter can only truly be accessed by allowing myself to tap into the quiet and the stillness that’s just within my reach.
I’m going to finally start embracing boredom so that I can see if I can tap back into my truest voice: my own. Take a moment to do this yourself, and let me know what you learn.
P.S. Today is my daughter Christina’s 26th birthday. I want to wish her a blessed day. She is smart, kind, loving and a beautiful woman. Fun, too. It’s an honor to be her mother and watch her flourish.
Cover Illustration by Julie Paschkis. For more of her work, go here.
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
NEWS TO MAKE YOU THINK
AN AMERICAN HERO’S NEW FIGHT: I’ve long admired Sen. John McCain as a public servant. He’s always seemed more focused on serving his country than his party. We definitely need more leaders like that. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, the announcement of his brain cancer diagnosis makes this a time to keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers. We are here for you Sen. McCain, as is your country.
NEWS TO IMPROVE YOUR MIND
STRESS AFFECTS OUR COGNITIVE HEALTH EVEN MORE THAN WE REALIZED: A new study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference this week found that even one major stressful event early in life can have a detrimental effect on your brain later on. It’s just another strong reminder that we must make rest and self-care a priority.
NEWS TO IGNITE YOUR DINNER TABLE CONVERSATION
COULD A ‘GAP YEAR’ LATER IN LIFE BE A GOOD IDEA?: You’ve probably heard of the idea of high school students taking an extended break before starting college, but what about taking a break as an adult to do something different? This recent NY Times article profiles several older adults who have found a new lease on life through “gap years” of their own. Have you ever taken an extended break from your daily life to travel or learn something new? Tell us about it.
NEWS TO OPEN YOUR HEART
THIS 80-YEAR-OLD AND UP BASKETBALL TEAM ‘PLAYS TO WIN’: The San Diego Splash hoops squad will inspire you to believe that anything is possible. Watch the video above to hear their incredible story.
PASSIONATE VIEWS & POWERFUL PERSPECTIVES
FROM ARCHITECTS OF CHANGE
ALEX SOOJUNG-KIM PANG: THE SCIENCE BEHIND HOW BOREDOM BENEFITS YOUR BRAIN
Architect of Change Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, a visiting scholar at Stanford and the author of the new book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, reveals how boredom improves our cognitive function over time. READ MORE
EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH: WANT TO FIND PURPOSE? SPEND TIME ALONE.
Architect of Change Emily Esfahani Smith, author of the book The Power of Meaning, shares what she’s learned about alone time and how it allows us to live a more meaningful life. READ MORE
MANOUSH ZOMORODI: HOW SPACING OUT CAN UNLOCK CREATIVITY
Architect of Change Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC’s “Note to Self” and author of the upcoming book Bored and Brilliant, offers her insights into how boredom enables us to be more imaginative and productive in our daily lives. READ MORE
ARCHITECT OF CHANGE OF THE WEEK:
TARA BRACH: “PAUSING, FINDING A QUIET SPACE, AND OPENING UP TO THE PRESENT MOMENT, EXPOSES US TO OUR UNLIVED LIFE.”
Architect of Change of the Week Tara Brach has been helping people find their inner peace for nearly 20 years. As the founder of the D.C.-based Insight Meditation Society, Tara has not only guided many people toward finding acceptance, freedom and love within themselves. She has also encouraged them to set out and share that compassion with the greater world. We honor her today for the way her teachings are helping to Move Humanity Forward.
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
SHOP FOR YOUR MIND
“My First Coloring Book Is On Sale Now!”
I’m so excited that Color Your Mind” is now a national bestseller! If you know someone with Alzheimer’s or another brain-related challenge, or if you know someone who is a caregiver, I hope you’ll consider gifting them with a copy. It’s designed with love.