Thoughts Along the Path . . .
Do you sometimes feel bored? And if so, what do you do about it?
I read an article a few days ago that got me thinking about this. According to the authors, we might feel bored when we do not have anything specific to do; and the opposite is also true - we might report feeling bored when we have too much to do.
The first situation is obvious. Our brains like to be busy, to learn, to create, and to communicate. When insufficiently stimulated, we feel restless, off-centre, without focus. To relieve the discomfort of boredom, we find something to do.
At the other extreme, if we have too much to do we feel stressed and tired. Powerless to complete all of our tasks, we feel similar to being bored. Years ago when I worked in sales I was taught that “the confused mind says no.” Unable to make a decision, we tune out.
I remember as a child sometimes complaining “there’s nothing to do.” Looking back on it, I think I had lots to do. I just couldn’t focus on one thing or didn’t know how to manage my time.
I think the lesson here is to try to find the middle ground as expressed in the word “moderation.” In Ancient Rome, Seneca offered this warning: “Everything that exceeds the bounds of moderation has an unstable foundation.”
We all need the occasional “time out.” An annual vacation, fun as it may be, isn’t enough. Even a weekly outing isn’t enough. Our brains, our sometimes-withered selves, need time every day to regenerate.
Some people satisfy their need for time out with yoga, breathing exercises, or meditation. They may sit silently, listen to music, even hum or chant. Their bodies may be in a relaxed state or perhaps dancing. I enjoy moving through nature – hiking, biking, running, just to offer some examples.
What about you? Do you find that quiet time nourishes you? Do you sometimes find ideas, solutions to problems, even inspiration in your quiet moments? Being in constant motion and surrounded with noise will block thought and distract us.
Earlier this week, with too much to do and bored with my task list, I clicked on a link to an interview with the man who programmed “solitaire” in the early days of PCs. He said he did it because he was bored and his employer (Microsoft) encouraged staff to initiate projects. He thought of the game as a way for users to practice using a mouse, though of course that game is still around and only one of countless games available through our electronic devices every day. I admire that he channeled his boredom into something innovative.
I looked into the Baha’i writings to find a link between boredom, moderation, and creativity and found several relevant passages. Here is my favorite by Abdul-Baha (son of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith) connecting moderation in individual behaviour with something much larger: “Moderation, without which the truly balanced life is impossible, is a vital feature of the civilization now dawning upon humanity.”
So next time you are bored, celebrate it as an opportunity to expand your mind and your impact on the world. Find something worthy to do and do it!
Submitted to Ayr News by Jaellayna Palmer, November 2022
© Jaellayna Palmer 2022