Positivity Quest: In Praise of Boredom

“All man’s troubles come from not knowing how to sit still in one room.” –Blaise Pascal

It is summer at last, the season of long lazy afternoons and empty idle hours of wonder. I remember well the endless afternoons of ice pops and sprinklers, taking long walks to see if anything interesting could be found in the neighborhood. This was well before the digital revolution and if you wanted to see a movie, you actually had to go to a theatre. These were the days when you knew the time and day of your favorite show, because that was the only time you could see it and summer was mostly reruns, anyway.

There are two kinds of boredom, the kind that is mind numbing, a close cousin of procrastination and disinterest in everything around you. This boredom is more like mental laziness. Summertime boredom was an open parachute for my curiosity. It was, I fondly remember, when I learned to day dream. Back then, I dreamt about far away places, what my first kiss would be like, what I would look like when I finally passed through the gates of adolescence. It sounds more romantic in retrospect than it was at the time. It felt like life was somehow passing me by. Even as a child I was not practiced at idle time. By the time August rolled around, my fingernails permanently black from popping tar bubbles in the street, I was looking forward to school just for something to do.

Not so for the kids of today. Movies on command, favorite episodes of TV programs stored on their iPods and the incessant buzz of their cell phones, heralding yet another text message. In our family, just keeping technological devices off the dinner table feels like a minor victory. Their brains are continuously distracted, even their group interactions are continuously invaded by the barrage of texts from friends who are somewhere else. Yet my children with all their devices and digital connecting will still claim boredom. They have forgotten how to look inside, they don’t know that they have just to open the parachute of wondering.

They would and do roll their eyes at me when I encourage them to sit in the empty place of not knowing. Actually I usually only have their attention for moments at a time, so quickly will one of their devices interrupt the silence. My goal for this summer is to provide enforced boredom for both them and me. Giving myself the chance to revisit the experience of long lazy afternoons unplugged. I wonder if I will still remember how to day dream.


Lynn D.
Lynn D5 years ago

GREAT!!! Thanks!

gary c.
Gary C6 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jewels S.
Jewels S7 years ago

My Mom cured the boredom question very fast. If we said we were bored she would say "then go clean the bathroom" I still can't stand the smell of the cleanser she used. There have been very few times in my life I have been bored and it is usually because I am trapped like when flying across country.

Kamal R.
Kamal R7 years ago

thanks for the article

Carole K.
Carole K7 years ago

Just like no one can make you angry w/o your permission, no one can make you bored w/o your permission either. Is your locus of control inside or outside yourself? Yes, I'm of the older generation & I don't believe in boredom (never been bored that I can recall). Be thankful for all the opportunities, time & resources to explore when you are young;bc there's an entire world of possibilities just waiting to be discovered; but, alas, it might take a little imagination &/or effort! Unplug & get to it!

Julie Warren
Julie Warren7 years ago

This is a great article. I miss those days too. When kids were outside playing more.

Rachel Robbins
Rachel R7 years ago

I think kids will always complain of boredom. Whenever we did (and we had plenty to do) my mother would say "what dismal poverty of imagination" and suggest we go outside or read a book or something. For years I didn't really understand that phrase, except I knew it meant something like "the world is full of wonder, go find it".

John Van Hise
John Van Hise7 years ago

wish i could find a way to text this to my daughters, but it's too long for their fast-paced minds & they would say they are bored. maybe i can pay them $5 to read it. ah, if i only had the time to be bored...

Monica Tervoort
Monica Tervoort7 years ago

I enjoyed the article, and enjoy my idle time. I have the luxury of 'puttering' around the house, watering plants, and hanging out with the dogs. When I was a kid, gadgets were rare, and we entertained ourselves in the nieghborhood. Life was simpler. Books are a great way to escape. Staying out of the heat of the day and even indulging in a nap, if I feel like it.