Attention! Attention! Let’s Get Bored!
Who has control of your attention? Seriously, who controls what you focus on? Is it YouTube, Facebook, Google? Is it the news or an app? How often do you start something and then switch to something else? You may call that multi-tasking. Neuroscientists call it distraction.
We, as a society, are losing our ability to focus. Goldfish can now focus longer than a human. A dog can focus waaaay longer than a human. Crazy, right?
What is happening? We have lost the ability to be bored.
Bored? Yes, bored!
When was the last time you were bored?
I remember getting out of school for summer vacation and about 4 days into it, I was bored. I remember sitting on a curb playing with a stick in the dirt. I remember catching a ladybug in a baby food jar and just watching it try to get out. I remember taking the resistors out of a portable radio and trying to figure out how to put them back in. (OK, now my family knows who broke the radio in 1977.)
But boredom doesn’t happen often in today’s world, does it?
Every moment is filled with never-ending stimulation. We can’t even stand in a line or ride in an elevator… we have to pull out our phone, check our to-do list, browse Instagram, or find countless other things to do to fill the 30 seconds of boredom that we face.
Hey! Are you bored by all of this talk about boredom? Stick with me! Focus your attention. Don’t let some technology geek from Silicon Valley or some marketing hack from Google steal it away from you.
There are 3 reasons you need to practice being bored.
- When you get bored, wonderful things happen in your brain.
You allow your brain to go into its default mode and just be, well, a brain. You allow it to perform the tasks and create the neural connections that allow your brilliance to shine.
Recently, one of my executive clients asked me, “How can I set goals for myself?” I was kind of surprised. Here was a lady who was running a multi-million dollar company and who spends her days and sometimes her weekends setting corporate goals and yet, didn’t know how to set them personally. More precisely, she didn’t know what she wanted any more. It’s time for her to be bored and set her brain free again.
Your brain starts doing autobiographical planning where it looks back on the memories that you have and starts to write and plan for the future. This is what allows you to dream big dreams and set goals for your future.
- When you allow yourself to be bored you sleep better.
You train your brain to relax and slow down. Have you ever gone to bed and just laid there with an unending stream of thoughts flowing through your mind? It is like someone turned on the Niagara Falls of thoughts in your head and you can’t shut it off (or even slow down.)
You need to be bored more often. You need to take back control of your mind and allow it to do its thing. You’ve got to stop letting it run wild like that unruly child in the restaurant. You’ve got to stop telling your brain, “If you do that one more time, we’re gonna leave this restaurant!” And then it happens again, but you still finish your cocktail or order dessert. It’s time for a little discipline.
[Oh no, did I say discipline? Who on earth likes discipline? Certainly, that child in the restaurant doesn’t like it. But, people often mistake discipline for punishment. I’m not talking about punishment. Discipline comes from the root of disciple and it actually means to study. It’s time to study what your brain is doing.]
- Boredom is necessary for mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us to deal with stress.
I used to believe that practicing mindfulness was a waste of time. I mean, I’m sitting there doing NOTHING. What a waste of time! Right? Wrong! I was so wrong.
Mindfulness is about slowing your mind down and taking back control of your thoughts. It’s about being in the present moment and not allowing your mind to take you over Niagara Falls (out of control). Research has shown that mindfulness benefits include reduction of stress and anxiety, boosts in working memory, less emotional reactivity, more cognitive agility, greater focus and more satisfaction in your relationships. Seriously! That’s not “nothing.” That’s a better quality of life. Who doesn’t want or need that?
The Wander of Being Bored
You need to let your mind wander and daydream. Your mind needs to engage in regenerative thought because this is when creativity and positive mood increases. The key is to allow this spontaneous thought to arise without trying to overstimulate your brain with constant activity. Be still. Sit quietly and just watch what your brain is doing WITHOUT trying to control it or WITHOUT judging.
Boredom isn’t about some kind of spa-like, mind-numbing experience. It’s quite the opposite. Mindfulness and boredom are practices that actually wake you up. Boredom lifts you out of your trance and brings you into the moment of what is actually happening in your life. It allows you to reclaim the incredible power of choice that you have let slip through your fingers (more precisely the thumbs) and into the tech and marketing jungle.
- Do you ever feel unfocused and overwhelmed like your life is out of control?
- Do you ever sit at your desk staring at all of the work you have to do and not know where to start?
- Do you ever wish that you could feel more joy and fulfillment in your life?
Being bored and being mindful of what is going on within us and paying less attention to what is going on with out us can make a world of difference. Give it a try today!
Want to learn more AND receive a FREE resource to help you put this into practice?
Register and attend next week’s FREE 60-minute training class followed by Q&A
called “Re-energize Your Life & Leadership: 7 Keys to Getting Unstuck”