Confessions of a Professional Mom

Confessions of a Professional Mom

Professional mom seeking clarity, balance and a well deserved glass of wine.

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The Queen of Boredom Finds Joy in One Breath

March 24, 2017 , , , , , , , ,

I’m bored! Said no mom ever.

Isn’t it ironic, when you’re a kid you effortlessly and frequently fall into a state of boredom? Any of these sounds familiar?

There’s nothing to watch on TV, I’m bored!
None of my friends can hang out, I’m bored!
This homework is boring!
Why do we have to wait in this line, I’m bored!
Why hasn’t the plane taken off yet? I’m bored!
What’s for dinner? That’s boring!
Why do you have to order another cocktail? Can’t we just go? I’m bored!
There’s nothing to do, I’m bored!

I was the queen of boredom. If I wasn’t being entertained or playing with a friend or had some big plans, I felt bored. Most of us have lived through all of these moments of horrendous boredom and, fortunately, are now reliving it with our kids. I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say at this point in my life, I am never bored! Ever!

This might sound crazy, but I’m actually grateful for driving in traffic (most of the time) and waiting in line or sitting at home with absolutely nothing to do (oh, wait that last one never happens). In these moments of waiting, I can choose to enjoy the quiet, the time to think or create in my head or ponder a new client project. I can use the time to “not think” and just be quiet. I could choose boredom, instead, but why?

Recently, a retired Google engineer, of all people, (Chade-Meng Tan) has had a profound effect on me and reinforces the way I feel about boredom. In his wonderfully funny and insightful book, Joy on Demand, he suggests that boredom is actually a state of mind. I’d like to add to that…it’s also an excuse.

As a kid, this idea would have been hard to wrap my head around. As an adult, it makes so much sense. However, all adults are not created equal or think alike, so you may completely disagree with me. What does boredom get you?

Effectively, it removes you from any action at all. It freezes you in a holding pattern of numbness, inaction, and unhappiness. Are your kids smiling and laughing and joyful when they’re “bored?” No! They’re sulking, moping about and whipping themselves into a state of “whoa is me!” I get it, though. Their brains are still developing. Their neural pathways are still grooving. They equate not being entertained with boredom. What about adults?

We have so much to do. To think about. To be grateful for. How on earth could we ever feel bored? Are we making an excuse when we feel bored? Are we holding ourselves back from trying something new or appreciating the moment in time that’s right in front of us? Are we avoiding being present? Do we not have enough going on and maybe that’s the problem? Are we whining simply because WE’RE not being entertained?

Meng’s suggestion is this: in those moments of “boredom” (aka—nothing immediate to do because you’re waiting or in between tasks or appointments or plans changed) consider one deep breath of gratitude. He actually suggests a mini meditation, but I don’t want to scare you off completely.

One long deep breath of gratitude can shift your whole state of mind. From boredom and frustration to joy and freedom.

Ironically, no one controls our headspace (a fantastic meditation app BTW) except us. We are in charge of what we think and how we use our mind powers and our thoughts. We can either blow people up with them or wish them happiness and good fortune. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget this. I let social media or the radio or “jumping into the way-back machine” to replay that stupid loop take over my headspace and it does nothing but clutter it all up. I feel overwhelmed and unproductive and stuck.

I’m curious — do you find that you’re bored sometimes? All the time? How do you fill that space instead? With activities and productivity or quiet and joy? Or, both?!

Love to hear your thought in the comments below. Is boredom really just a state of mind?

Always in pursuit of sanity, balance and a well-deserved glass of wine.

Stay sane, my friends.

Allison DeFord

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