The Lost Emotion: Rebranding Boredom

When was the last time you were bored?

Can you remember what it feels like to be bored?

If you are like most people today, boredom is a feeling that is absent from our lives. We have structured our lives in such a way that boredom is no longer an option.

Being bored is a thing of the past. Now, when you feel the onset of boredom coming on, you reach for your phone. Smartphones are boredom killers. The closest thing most people have to boredom is mindless swiping through apps on their phone. They are trying to kill time while waiting on something. They will click in and out of apps trying to find something to amuse them. This is different from how things used to be. If you were bored in 1995, you accepted boredom, thought about something, or created something to replace the feeling of boredom. If you were like me, you counted random things like the number of tiles on the wall, the frequency of lines in the carpet pattern of the doctor's office, or people watched while waiting for your mom to finish shopping. Boredom makes you do things you would never do otherwise. This is what makes it so powerful.

While technology provides us many great things, one of the casualties is the loss of boredom. This is an emotion that we often overlook, but it provides insight into how we think and create. Do you know what happens when you're bored? You get creative. Bored children create games to entertain themselves. How many games of "the floor is lava" happened out of boredom? How many license plate or road sign games did you create while sitting in the backseat of long car rides with your family? When you think back to your fondest memories, chances are some of them happened as a result of bored creativity.

Boredom only exists when it has the space to exist. It is impossible to be bored if we are always doing something else. We overschedule our lives to the last minute. We brag about how busy we are. When was the last time you heard someone say, "I have so much extra time I don't even know what to do with it." You haven't, because this is unacceptable in today's society. It is a status symbol to tell others we are busy, even if this is a lie. We schedule away our lives and as a side effect we remove the possibility for boredom to exist.

When we allow ourselves to be bored, we allow our most creative selves to appear. Creative thoughts come in the cracks and crevices of our minds. It is in these moments that disconnected ideas come together. Do yourself a favor. Experience boredom for all that it has to offer. Don't try to medicate it with Candy Crush or Twitter feeds. Embrace boredom and see where it allows you to create.

Bryan Clifton

Oklahoma City, OK