Surviving Not Thriving:
We want our children – Resilient, Decisive and Compassionate. But, how many minutes a day do we spend nurturing these qualities in them?
All day, every day, we as parents act in full blown survival mode. And we feel like our ultimate goal is to ensure our children are not bored at any cost.
Our Current State of Busyness:
But, let’s face it, real life is not naturally stimulating. In fact, it’s nothing but long stretches of boring loneliness with bursts of temporary excitement in groups of 2 people or more. The sooner we teach our children this the better.
Also, in juxtaposition, our day-to-day, monotonous lives pale in comparison to our online lives which are very unpredictable and exciting with plenty of likes and comments. That’s why so many of us are struggling “to find meaning in our boring lives” especially since 2011 with the massive intrusion of social media and its excitement in our lives.
Such is our modern life where taking some downtime is mistaken for laziness and lack of motivation. In our crazy busyness, we’re forgetting to remind ourselves that our bodies and minds need downtime. And that we don’t always have to be on the go to be productive.
Daydreaming For Problem Solving:
We all know, busyness is not productivity. And here’s the thing. Downtime provides huge benefits to brain health.
Boredom allows our brains to connect the dots between our thoughts and our experiences, and helps problem solving.
Allowing our brains to get off the “always on the go” mode means allowing it to wander once in a while. When we are day dreaming, we start using our subconscious thinking, which means we are making all sort of connections between things from our past and the things we’ve learnt. That’s when we start making inroads into issues that are bothering us because we start making discoveries, finding patterns and finding out new ways to old nagging problems.
The Brain on Default Mode:
What’s more, pausing literally changes the brain’s structure. Silent moments of mindfulness actually enables the formation of more folds in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The process is called gyrification. This is really important because the PFC is the executive branch of the brain – it aids in processing feelings, regulating emotions, cognitive flexibility and decision making.
Our brain is said to be in the “Default Mode Network” during the process of self-reflection – the psychological task of reflecting on one’s traits and characteristics. This self-reflection aids in what is called “Autobiographical Planning” which takes a note of how we tell ourselves stories of our past and our future – in a way to connect different experiences to translate them into ideas for our most persistent problems.
Frequent and consistent brain breaks give our brain a chance to shift its focus away to something low-stakes and fun for a few minutes. They are also shown to boost productivity and creativity once we return to our learning tasks. What’s more, seeking refuge in silence allows us to give grace to ourselves and to others around us.
Boost Creativity Through Boredom:
The funny thing about humans is that so many of us want to live 100 years when we don’t know what to do with a boring Sunday afternoon.
So, try something new in life. Pick up a new skill, try a new recipe or learn to dance. Mental agility that’s aided with novelty and calculated risks set us on a path of growth and learning for a lifetime.
And, let’s teach our children to pause once in a while. Let’s encourage our children to day dream. Let their boredom not be rescued by YouTube all the time. Let them find their own stimulation. Create opportunities where they can have brain breaks like taking a walk, or meditation. It will also allow us to have that terrifying thing called a “deep conversation” with our loved ones.
Whether they grab a book and fall into the couch, or grab their headphones and go for a run – what children do with their time is up to them. But it’s our duty to tell them that a little downtime once in a while will reset the brain to think, create and connect more efficiently.
Slowing Down In The Present For a Better Future:
The upside to Covid has been our physical lives have been more or less slowed down to the natural pace it was meant to be. Now, its upto us to start living our mental spaces at the same pace. Adopt digital minimalism to declutter that space in your head and start anew.
It’s going to be difficult in the beginning, but existential boredom is good. It’s good for the soul, because you actually can sort through your thoughts and create priorities. Research shows us that when the brain in under stimulated, it starts looking for self stimulation boosting creativity.
In the end, slowing down to the pace of nature helps us to check if the route we’re on in life is the one that we actually want to be on. After all, whatever we might be navigating – boroughs or board rooms, we’ll need tools like wonder, boredom, resilience, gratitude, creativity. And it starts with us capturing those moments of stillness around our daily grind.