Summer is upon us and already we are behind. Why is it we fill up our schedules in the summer? The plethora of camps and sports activities available to our children is overwhelming. Every summer grill night or picnic or party is a temptation, yet also can be overwhelming. What happened to relaxation?!
I recently read a thought-provoking article in the February 2015 issue of "Real Simple" magazine about the importance of boredom, which really does tie into relaxation and I will get to that connection in a minute. Boredom, for both adults and kids, fosters creativity, improves problem-solving abilities, and allows us to simply be present to our thoughts and inner life.
Here is the fascinating proposition made in this article: We no longer provide space for boredom!
What?! We should provide space for boredom? YES! If boredom provides the benefits listed above, then, yes, we should provide space for boredom. Think about it, boredom can lead to innovation, self-reflection, and even relaxation. In a world where we have a SmartPhone to entertain us while waiting, a bazillion different channels to choose from on cable (not to mention all the streaming services available), shopping at our fingertips, Facebook, etc., there is no longer space for boredom. When there is no space for boredom, we actually shut down our imaginations and our creative centers in our brains. That should not be so!
Perhaps the most powerful benefit of boredom is self-reflection. I propose we would all benefit from a little more self-reflection. Those moments of boredom open up the questions, "What do I need? think? feel?" in ways a hurried life will never invite. Boredom gives us opportunity to get in touch with ourselves and our needs, our dreams, our frustrations. Boredom also can point the way to our need to take a break and relax. When was the last time you sat quietly without distraction? When was the last time you lay on a blanket on the grass or swung lazily in a hammock?
We have become a culture who believes those kind of activities are frivolous luxuries, and yet, our brains and bodies are tired. Our brains and bodies are screaming, pleading, begging us, "Will you relax?!" So, will you relax? Will you intentionally provide space for boredom and relaxation this summer? Don't let your summer whiz by! Build a sand castle. Sip iced tea on the porch. Chat with your neighbor. Find shapes in the puffy clouds. Be bored and for your sake, relax!