Thoughts on Boredom

Over the weekend, my sister and brother-in-law visited with their 3-month-old baby daughter. She’s an inquisitive, sociable little person who has just learned how to smile back when people grin at her.

My sister was telling me how many toys there are for sale in the months before Christmas — the Argos catalogue is brimming with ideas for children even as young as my niece, who was happy tugging at a fistful of my hair last weekend.

We all want to shower youngsters with gifts because they’ve given us joy and we want to give some back. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I already have my eye on a tea set that I know my niece will enjoy as she gets older.

But when does it all become too much?

I’m not talking about the consumerism issue — although I suppose that’s one problem with allowing children to have so many toys. What strikes me most about the sheer volume of toys is the issue of over stimulation. There are too many options. This is something that goes beyond physical objects and continues as kids are sent to after-school clubs, music lessons etc. throughout childhood. The summer holidays roll around and families are encouraged to book family holidays and days out a-plenty.

I’m not a psychologist, neither am I a parent, so I’m not offering any answers. But what I have observed is the negative connotations surrounding boredom. As if it’s wrong to find yourself with nothing to do.

This way of thinking affects us adults as much as it does our children. We’ve glorified “busyness”, as though being busy is the definition of success. Social media would have us think that everyone is always busy doing something interesting, whether at work or at play. We even feel the need to Instagram our lunch because we want people to know that it wasn’t boring.

Is it wrong to be bored?

When I think of all the delightful things that happened as a result of my own childhood boredom — stories were written, artwork made, music played, clothes torn, energy burned, talents discovered, memories made — I don’t think boredom is such a bad thing.

Boredom is time to think, to get the cogs turning and to discover what you really want to do. It also represents a sense of discontent, which is a healthy emotion to feel if you want to change something. If we’re always content, where does change come from? Instead of coming from ourselves, it’s inevitable that it will be happening somewhere else.

Let’s seize opportunities to be bored, for it inspires creativity and ignites change. Let’s not be afraid when boredom strikes, but embrace it instead.

I’d love to know your thoughts on boredom! Leave a comment here or contact me through my website — I’d love to hear from you.