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The Upside of Boredom


“I’m bored.” 

Paul, age 8, says this roughly every 30 seconds. It’s not that he’s spoiled or overly entertained or more addicted to the internet than his parents. It’s that he’s 8 and 8 year olds bug their parents by saying they are bored even when they aren’t. (Paul said he was bored during the previews for The Avengers. I thought about the $40 I just spent to take him and rolled my eyes.)

I’ve turned the I’m bored syndrome into a bit of a game between us. When Paul says, “I’m bored” I look at him and say “Good. And do you know why it’s good?

Here’s what I’m teaching Paul. It’s the upside of boredom. 

Boredom leads you to creativity. And creativity leads to figuring out things that no one else can figure out. And when you figure out stuff that no one else can figure out that will lead you to world domination. Therefore your boredom will lead you to the world domination you desire. Therefore boredom is a very good thing, right?

It’s a not-so-subtle thing I’m trying to plant in my son’s head. I’m combatting my nature to roll my eyes or scold him by teaching values:

  • Creativity happens when we create space for it.
  • There’s a difference between staying occupied and doing something amazing.
  • I actually think he can create something which might dominate the world.

What are other upsides to boredom?

Photo credit: I Can Has Cheezeburger.com

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2 Responses to The Upside of Boredom

  1. Douglas Koch June 12, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    That is an interesting response to consider. My response to the boredom comment goes something like this. I used to be a lifegaurd and watch people swim back and forth repeatedly … over and over and over. And I grew to an affect of great boredom. Then one day I asked myself the question, What is the worst thing that could happen right now? I began to answer the question to myself in these ways: A kid could poop in the pool or vomit on the deck; someone could swallow some water and begin choking in the deep end of the pool; a non-swimmer could mistakenly jump into the deep end of the pool and be on the bottom looking up at me; someone could dive off the board and hit their head requiring a well informed emergency response coordinated between all the lifeguards and emerbency response teams of the Mayo Clinic and Rochester Fire Department; etc. After thinking of these terrible things that COULD be happening I began to be THANKFUL that they were not happening and feel the PEACE that was surrounding me. Thankfulness and peace and much more pleasant feelings than boredom and discontent. : )

  2. Bill Dahl June 12, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Boredom happens to be the unequivocal # 1 reason American students drop out of high school today…I’d watch your “wishful thinking spin” on this and start considering plan B…Like maybe…going and doing new things together as dad and son…

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