The misunderstanding of boredom is a tragedy.
When we’re bored we whip out the phone faster than Jumping Jack Flash. And we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
We can’t bear to be bored anymore. But boredom is an untapped opportunity most of us are pissing away.
Too many people let boredom destroy them
Boredom doesn’t just relate to our time. Boredom is tied to our goals too.
Let me give you an example. Chris Hadfield wrote in the book about his life that he was an astronaut for 22 years.
In all that time he only spent 6 months in space.
The rest of the time he sat around being bored and hoping to jump in a rocket ship. So he got a thrill many of us can only dream of but had to be bored for 22 years to get it. This doesn’t only apply to space dreams.
Many goals are painfully boring
I began writing online 8 years ago.
At the start it felt amazing to bust out a blog post and hit publish on a WordPress blog. That excitement has worn off. Some weeks writing is a blast. Other weeks it’s painfully boring.
The Olympics is no different. You spend years of your life training for a 2-minute freestyle swimming race that happens once every 4 years.
90% of the effort is in the warm-up.
Most days in the pool have zero crowds. No one knows who you are. You just show up and do your laps to shave one second off your race time.
The majority of us will never compete in the olympics because we don’t have that level of focus and can’t deal with the boring training involved.
We prefer to chase shiny objects and jump from one thing to the next. All it does is force us to look for shortcuts and hacks.
It makes us leap from side hustle to side hustle looking for the holy grail we can “fall in love with” and “fulfill our life’s purpose.”
One reason so few young people don’t read books is that they’re boring and slow to finish. It takes patience. You don’t get an instant hit of dopamine like you do with TikTok.
But boring and slow is how you learn life-changing lessons you can get from books. It’s how you get anything worth achieving in life.
Here’s how to become a master of boredom and get an unfair advantage
1. Use boredom to come up with new ideas
My brain used to always run low on ideas.
I couldn’t work out why. Then I figured it out. If all you do is load up your brain with new information it never has time to process it.
When you make time for boredom it allows the processing of information to occur and then starts to connect the dots between ideas. This is how you come up with NEW ideas.
So you have to schedule the following activities to allow the magic to occur:
- Walks with no phones
- Time in the sun with no distractions
- Long, warm showers to stand and think
- Time to do boring tasks like housework (some of my best ideas have come while washing the dishes or cleaning the toilet — no joke!)
Idle time compounds creative time.
When famous author Neil Gaiman got asked where he gets writing ideas from, he said “From daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored.”
No wonder he’s written so many bestsellers.
2. Practice non-woo-woo mindfulness
Hipsters made mindfulness cool.
As such, many normies are afraid of all these Headspace-type apps that have turned it into a productivity assignment.
The best way is to just spend 10 minutes once or twice a day with your eyes closed while you pay attention to your breath. It’s free and will teach you to be bored and better at non-reactivity.
If you can’t sit and do nothing for 10 minutes you’ll never master boredom.
What stops us are our thoughts. The mind chatter wants to keep going but we need a break from it to experience the elevated state of boredom that mindfulness gives us.
Level 1: Positive boredom habits with mind chatter
Level 2: Mindful boredom with no mind chatter
3. Write one of these cheeky lists
We refuse to get bored because we always think we could be doing or getting more. At its heart this is because we’re trained to be ungrateful.
The way to redo this bad programming is with a simple gratitude list.
Write down three things you’re grateful for each day. Once you’re done you won’t feel like you’re lacking anything or are behind in life. That’ll then give you permission to be bored and slow down the game of life.
Boring things make you ridiculously wealthy
Doing the same thing over and over is boring.
Without boredom we can’t be consistent. Without consistency we can never get in enough practice to become successful at one thing. Now you know why boredom is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can have.