Character is what you are in the dark.

– Dwight L. Moody and Lord Whorfin (Dr. Emilio Lizardo)

I agree with the above quote, but also think there is another version of this:

Character is what you are when you’re bored.

– Mark Bradford

Hard to be in the dark

When are you in the dark though? The ‘dark’ is when no one is looking, not necessarily when there’s no light. And the dark is when nothing is happening—no stimulus. That last one is hard with social media and our phone always being there. Even if you are doing nothing, or relaxing, you are still doing something. You check your insta, FB, Twitter, etc. You putz around.

What is boredom?

So what is it? In Congrats you’re bored I explored what that means to be bored at your job. But I’m talking about experiencing a bout of actual boredom in your free time. It’s not putzing, it’s not watching trash TV or doing a mindless chore. Your mind may wander and you may get no fulfillment. But what I am talking about is just stopping everything you are doing and just experiencing this. Actual boredom.

Isn’t that meditation?

It might sound familiar to meditation—clearing your mind, doing ‘nothing’ and embracing said ‘nothing’—but it’s not. While meditation is accepting no thoughts and the pursuit of that place of nothing, boredom is the pursuit of something to fill the boredom.

People with not enough to do?

This might sound like something that only people with way too much free time would ever do. It’s not. My experience with myself and many others (though conversations, meaningful Q&A and coaching) is that it is an ever-present thing. We have many opportunities—even on a daily basis—to decide what we will do next. Even those that think their entire day is spoken for have that free will, and there are many that make this statement when the preset day was set in stone by them—the very people complaining about the constraints placed upon them.

Even those who have a basic job, then come home and eat their heavily-salted snacks don’t experience this. They fill their time—with something, with anything. And anything ain’t nothing.

This concept applies to everyone.

Try it

Your takeaway is two-fold:

  • Recognize what actual boredom is. Boredom—IMHO—is a reset. It is a way for you to ‘come down’ from work, pleasure, friends, family, tasks, chores, etc. It’s the in-between time. And it is not meditation. Just thinking about that concept can actually freak people out. Being bored? Is that allowed? I’m too busy for that. I have too much going on. Did it have that effect on you?
  • Disconnect and experience some actual boredom. Then tell me what happens. And don’t do this just once. Like meditation you will find that this something that is helpful on a regular basis. If you don’t think this is an important reset for you why not? Why don’t you think it applies to you?