In Part 1 of this series, we established that boredom is the precursor to creativity. In Part 2, we try to make sense of why boredom has such a bad reputation, or if it’s just a matter of semantics.
In Part 1 of this series, we established that boredom is the precursor to creativity. It provides important moments of stillness that allow one's mind to wander. Or as Deepak Chopra puts it, to “dream, imagine, and reflect.”
But is that what boredom really is? And why do we associate it with laziness?
In Part 2 of this series, we try to make sense of why boredom has such a bad reputation, or if it’s just a matter of semantics.
In Part 1 of this series, we established that boredom is the precursor to creativity. It provides important moments of stillness that allow one's mind to wander. Or as Deepak Chopra puts it, to “dream, imagine, and reflect.”
But is that what boredom really is? And why do we associate it with laziness?
In Part 2 of this series, we try to make sense of why boredom has such a bad reputation, or if it’s just a matter of semantics.
The week between Christmas and New Year's was some of the hardest days. There's nothing really to do. In fact, you're supposed to just spend that time with your family and watch movies and just be cozy. I was so miserable. I realize that what makes me feel good about myself and in business is to work. I want that boredom. I really don't know how to tap into that and be okay with it and not feel lazy.
For me, the most fertile periods of my life in terms of when I've had the best ideas, the clearest thinking, come from extended periods of nothingness, no deadlines, no client calls, no demands on my time. Super creative then. It's not the only way to be creative, but I think it's important for you to build into your life and your work the largest consolidated amount of discretionary time so that you get to decide what you want to do with it. Okay, Reza, what's up, man?
Super excited on this, about this topic. There's a difference between being bored and taking it easy, taking that moment to pause, breathe, allowing thoughts to come and go naturally and just explore in your mind, I think are great. But I wouldn't consider that boredom, and I don't know if you made that distinction earlier on or even if it's a valid distinction, but I think there is. I think for me personally, boredom is more of a negative, being bored, I don't want to say is for losers, but no, I'm going to say it. I'm going to say it's for losers. Being bored is for losers.
I think it fosters complacency. And complacency is the enemy. There's infinite possibilities of things a person can be doing proactively to move forward and learn and grow in whatever route they're in. And being bored is, I think, just floating around in indecisiveness and too many possibilities of not taking action. I mean, in this time, this day and age, I think it's almost impossible to be bored. That means you're not creating, taking action. There's nothing to do on your to-do list. I don't buy it.
I mean, there's many things you can do. Go to the museum, go pick up the phone, talk to someone, text someone. And another thing is the urgency and immediacy of something is important if you are feeling bored, putting those deadlines self-imposed, or having someone that you need to be accountable to. Client work is the perfect example of something like that. But I mean, even at simply tweeting out a promise or something saying, I'm going to create a short, I'm going to sell this much by the end of the month. Even though it's just out into the Twitter abyss, someone may like it, someone may hold you accountable to it at some little degree that may get you started on it. Those are my 2 cents on boredom.
It's interesting the way you set that up. And at first I was rooting for you, and I'm like, "Wait a minute." I thought you were saying being bored is good, taking it easy is not. And maybe we're going to split hairs here with words, but taking it easy says, "I'm going to shift into a different gear because I'm no longer as passionate about doing what it is I'm doing maybe. And here are my thoughts on this Reza, and, you guys don't know Reza, but he's a very talented person. He draws, he paints, he makes, I mean, he's a talented guy and I can see that he might represent a lot of creative people in the room where it's not okay to have something or nothing on your plate at all. And to me, this is an intentional decision, and by design that I have space to quiet my mind, because in this culture of go-go-go hustle grind, I think we start to lose our way and then we empty our tanks and we have nothing left to give.
Now a lot of people will say this to me, "Chris, where do these ideas come from? How do you know this? How did you meet this person?" I said, "Well, I create the space for that opportunity to happen." And as much as I'm feeling my schedule, it's because I'm trying to design my life so that I can have a Twitter space conversation or a clubhouse conversation so I can learn things from people not motivated by any other deadline or need to make money. There are plenty of people who are working with me who take care of all the different parts and pieces. So I get to choose and that flexibility to choose, it's my form of work meditation. And I don't know about you Reza, and I've done this many times before. My wife will say, "We're going on a three week, four week, two months vacation. You're not allowed to do any work." I'm like, "Cool." And what do I do? I pack some books with me like I'm going to work.
And after a while I'm like, "I'm not going to read this. I'm just going to sit here." And something really wonderful happens for me in that space where nothing is happening. I'm not thinking about projects. Some of the best, biggest ideas that I have, initiatives I want to launch, materialize there, or I'm able to reflect back on the last 1, 3, 5 years and remember something and connect dots.
I think in order for you to be able to connect those dots, you need to have space to think. Now, I know in the creative process, you and I have worked on pitches together. They're usually very fast paced. The deadlines are very tight and we're busy booking team members, supervising teams, just doing a lot of stuff that then somebody walks over who has none of this can look at it like you're missing the big picture because you're one eighth inch away from the grindstone. You don't have perspective. I know when I build in space to cram to study and then do nothing at all, I'm activating, which Nick Lina would call my subconscious dream mind to be able to connect the dots. You can't do that if you don't have that gap. I don't call that taking it easy. I'm working just on a different plane.
Yeah, I think that's semantics. I would call that taking it easy because you just said you're on vacation for three weeks. I think being bored, I guess I'm just thinking of the classic child who is just coming up to you and saying, "Oh, I'm bored." But you're not in that mindset when you're on vacation and taking it easy. You're not saying, "I'm bored," you're saying, "I'm going to take it easy and I'm going to still do these things in my mind." You're still working, but in a more relaxed state. I guess maybe it is just semantics.
I want to jump in here real quick because there are, I think my guilt whenever I'm in a state of qualified as boredom has been because of how I'm defining it. So the way Reza has described boredom is you've almost just given up on being, the way I understood it is being aware or being present to what you're doing. But the way Chris is defining boredom, and I do think it's semantics, almost it's like a meditative state it sounds like. So you're still present, but you're in tune to the silence. You're in tune to your thinking. It's an active state of being present. It's not just this passive, "Let me potato around." That's how I understood it. And I think it's a powerful distinction when we think about it because there is times where you need to 'take it easy' and turn it all off. And then there is those times where, for lack of a better term, in all the semantics discussion, an active state of presence.
I do think that the language that we're using matters, because when we're talking about boredom, it's the opportunity for our minds to wander and for us to not have any particular one thing that we're focused on. We're just being in that time. And what research has found with kids and with adults is that that's actually really, really important. And that filling all of that time and space actually very much thwarts our ability to flow and to access those creative thinking centers of our brain. I do think that it's important that when we're looking at this idea of boredom, there's also a spectrum. So if you're spending all day, every day being bored, sure, I mean anything in extremes is not great. You probably need to look at how am I attaining the goals that I've set out for?
But if you're not able to tolerate any boredom, that's the other end of the spectrum. And in between is an opportunity to find a balance between productivity and the opportunity to just be and not feel guilty about it. And I think that Reza, what you're speaking to, I think is part of a lot of people's struggle too, is we do have this guilt about just being, because we, I think, inherently feel like we're doing something wrong. And that's not just you or anybody else. I think that that's just the way that people in general view it as it has that negative connotation like Mo was saying. But I think that that's part of what the conversation is, how do we look at boredom and what I honestly consider to be a part of self-care as an opportunity to reconnect and as a mandate, not a nicety. We have to, otherwise we're going to get so depleted.
And I think we've talked about this before in these conversations that we burn out. And then what good are we to anybody, to ourselves, to our loved ones, to our businesses, to our creative creativity? We lose all of it because we haven't given ourselves and built in the opportunity to just be. So that's all that I wanted to add in there. I appreciate that perspective. I just think that it really is underscoring some of the narrative that we have around this idea of boredom and why we feel weird or guilty or ashamed when we experience it.
Donna, go ahead.
Hey, Chris, and Nidhi and Mo, such a good conversation. I have the hardest time with nothing to do, the hardest time with it. In fact, when I have nothing actually happening, I create something. So even on my days where I have nothing to do, I reorganize a closet, I decide to completely create a sales page, I create an offer. I record 17 podcasts. Something is wrong with me in that sense because I literally am not good with nothing. And what I realized I was going through a period of time over this holiday break where I force myself to take the majority of at least the second half of December off. And the reason why I did that is because A, I have my own business and we can, and B, no one is in the mood to be coaching and growing their business in those last couple weeks of December.
Everyone wants to take it off. I was excited for the idea of it. And we went to Mexico, my family and I for a week, we were there eight days. By day seven, I was pulling my hair out. I was like, "I can't be on vacation anymore. I cannot do nothing all day I need to do..." So I'm going on 14 mile runs every day, and then I come back to Los Angeles and I still had a week off. And if I can be honest, the week between Christmas and New Year's was some of the hardest days for me because it was so dead. There's nothing really to do.
In fact, you're supposed to do nothing. You're supposed to just spend that time and do puzzles and be with your family and watch movies and just be cozy. I was so miserable. I realized that my self-care and what makes me feel good about myself and in business or whatever, is to work, is to be productive. I struggle with this. I want that boredom. I want to work on that... I need that. And I get everything you're saying, Chris, and such great points. I really don't know how to tap into that and be okay with it and not feel like lazy. I guess lazy is the word. I feel lazy.
Oh my gosh, this is why I want to talk about this, Donna. Now you are like a high achiever. Your heart rate probably goes faster than mine. All these kinds of things, you need to do stuff or you just feel like something is wrong. I often think of you, you might be the Flash character from the DC Comics where everybody else must move Barry slowly compared to Barry. It's like, how do you-
I want to talk to you about the benefits of this and the reason why I want to make this distinction between boredom and taking it easy, taking it easy sounds like rest to me, and boredom is a deliberate state of work that doesn't look like work when you don't know what's going on. And my wife sometimes, we do this all the time, she's like, "Oh honey, so you're just doing this." I'm like, "No, no, no. I'm working right now. It doesn't look like it, but I'm putting complex thoughts together. I just don't want anything pulling me right now."
And when we're talking earlier about the effective executive by Peter Drucker, he says, "Your job as the executive or the leader in your company is to gather the largest chunk of discretionary time." He's talking about creating periods of boredom during the workday so you can just think. It's not taking it easy. Taking it easy to me carries a certain amount of judgment, especially if you're in a high work ethic culture. I'm going to give Reza just a quick rebuttal here if he wants to, or he can just submit and say he was wrong, that's okay too.
I'm definitely not wrong. I'm going all in. I'm doubling down on what I said. Boredom is negative. Boredom in the way you're doing something. If you're bored of doing... let's say, if you're a painter and you are suddenly bored of painting a certain way, you are always painting portraits of people, not taking action on that boredom and not taking a new way of approaching painting and consistently staying in your lane and being bored is totally negative. But you can turn that boredom into something positive, which is searching for a new way of painting. You're no longer painting portraits of people, you're painting still arts or whatever, something new, something novel. And I think boredom can be good if you spin it into something new that erases your boredom. When you're saying you're creating a space for boredom, I still think that you're just creating a space to take it easy and let your mind have a space to stretch his legs and roam free. I don't think that's boredom to me.
Very good. Thank you, Reza. Lisa, we'll move the mic along.
Oh, Reza, I've got so many things, but it's been great to listen to everyone. One of the things I wanted to say was one of my, I would say mentors a while back said to me, "The less I work, the more I earn." And I was like, "What are you talking about?" I've been brought up in a family where they've worked really hard, my dad worked all the time to give us what he did. And my belief was you had to work. When I was examining it, I had to work my butt off to get what I wanted. And my task that week I was given was just, she was like, "How often do you lay on the grass and look at the clouds?" And I'm looking at her like, "Well, obviously never. Since I was a child, I haven't spent that sort of time just laying on the grass as you did when you were young."
And being able to make that space in my life is what saved me from burnout, which is what heals me. Just having those moments where I take time in the day, paying attention to what's working for me. I think we are all diverse species and there's so many different types of brains. And as long as it's about paying attention to what's your belief? Why do I believe I have to work my butt off to get this? Can I change that belief? And it's pretty cool when you change the belief, you think, "No, that's my parents' belief, I've bought her with me." But you have to pay attention to solve those problems.
Creativity only happens in the subconscious mind. So whatever your perspective of boredom is, I think Reza is on a different place. I know with my kids when he said, "I'm bored, I'm bored." I used to ban devices quite often in our house and that first week they'd be laying on the couch rolling around, "I'm bored, mom, please let me on the PlayStation." But you would watch and after a week they'd start creating. They'd go in the garden and make camps. They'd start using Lego again. They'd draw pictures, they'd make little books, and it was just so much better for their mentality. So I think it's what you do. You do need to be bored. You bell, it's actually, as we are saying, a meditative state really. But just taking the time to stop your brain and paying attention to what's working in life for you. I think great tips that have come from this conversation.
Hey Donna, good to see you. I wanted to respond to what Donna had said, and then Reza pulled it through too. And there was this equating of boredom with lazy, and I just really want to put a pin in this because those are two very different and disparate concepts. When we're talking about lazy, we're talking about an unwillingness to work. And when I'm hearing you say Donna, is it's in those moments it's not that you're unwilling to work. If you wanted to work, you could absolutely work. It's not that you're lazy, it's that you're trying to build in an opportunity for you to get used to some downtime and a little bit of quiet and not feeling as though you have to go a million miles a minute. So I think that lazy is the judgment that we make when we think of the word boredom, but they aren't equal. They don't go together. That's not inherently linked. They're two very different concepts.
And I think it's important. I would ask you the same questions, Donna, around, because I know you and I know that there's a high achievement element of this too, and that I know that your identity is also tied in a lot of ways to your work ethic and what you put out there and how you help people, et cetera. And so once again, just like I said with Mo, then if our identity is completely rooted in doing, then just being feels like a threat to ourselves and our worth and who we are as a person. That's the separation and that's the work too. And those are probably early messages that I know probably both of y'all received. I know for me, I only received love and affection at home when I achieved.
So it became really difficult for me to love myself if I wasn't achieving because my entire life, everybody only praised me or only gave me good feedback when I had gotten the straight A's or when I got a full scholarship or whatever the case may be. But those things didn't fill an emotional hole that was within me, which is a need for self nurturing and self-worth, not external worth. And that's the continued journey. I know I'm not at the end of that myself either, but that was just some food for thought perhaps, to really separate the concept of laziness and instead view it as a value judgment on the idea of having time and space to think and that they don't have to go together. And it's programming that's really linked them together. So I'll pause there.
Thank you very much. We're going to move the mic over to Cooper.
Hi guys. Thank you. Thank you so much. This is fantastic. Just want to say that while Lisa was saying that we're so diverse, I also feel like we're so same and listening to everybody, I feel like I've been dealing with the same concerns. I really liked what Chris said about discretionary time, and I think he quoted Peter Drucker and the intentionality of it. But I really appreciate what Reza also brought up about boredom and the semantics around it. Because just anecdotally speaking, last time I was bored was when I was out of job. And I think a lot of us have this association, this negative association of boredom from a time when we weren't in control. Whereas I think the positive spin to it is boredom, which is intentional. I think I've been able to separate the two through this conversation. So thank you for this guys.
Yeah, thanks for making that distinction between boredom as you suffer as a child with nothing to do and Nidhi for saying the judgment that we might feel about that and these being two separate concepts. And the fact that we're talking about now is an adult one where you have agency to intentionally be bored. And I find that in the modern society with all the distractions, there's so many different forms of streaming media and social media and every other kind of media that you can have, it seems like there's no opportunity for us just to be still, to quiet our mind and to allow nothing to exist and to have a state of mindfulness that, "I'm going to be okay with this. And this is not me judging myself and to put myself in this position." I think about things like that expression, nature up, whores a vacuum.
And so when you're always being motivated to put a fire out, one after the other, "I got to get this email out. I got to submit this proposal, I got to give my team feedback." I mean, ask yourself if you keep doing that, are you feeling more creative or less creative? Are you more likely to have a breakthrough idea? And some of you might say yes, some of you'll say no, but just answer that question for yourself. If you're consistently putting out fires running a hundred miles an hour, are you going to be able to vision plan? Can you see the iceberg coming before it hits the ship? And to me, it's actually very hard to sit and actually be intentional and clear your mind and have nothing to do. Because what happens there is it's not that nothing happens. You start to daydream and ideas start to percolate and bubble up and new connections are made in your mind. And that's what I'm a champion for. Not talking about trapped in a room against your will you have no agency over.
Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.
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Welcome back to our conversation.
I'm going to pass it over to Sophia.
Thanks Chris. And I feel like this conversation is making me feel like I need permission to take that time to explore other creative avenues and explore my own sense of boredom and what that means to me. And I think that for a lot of us, we weren't exposed to that type of environment, both growing up and in our working environments. I've had jobs where if you were bored or if you were doing other creative things, even if it enhanced your skills and made you a better worker, it was frowned upon. I grew up in an environment where my mother raised us as a single mom, three girls, and there was no time to be bored. There's always something to do, something to take care of, something to help with, something to be done. So there's no time to even allow yourself to go and explore things.
And so now that I'm a business owner, it's very difficult for me to not do. I feel like in order for me to have time to spend exercising other creative avenues out of sheer pleasure and joy, I have to have a really good reason. And a lot of that's depended upon what I believe is successful. So landing a large client or making a certain amount of money or doing something that says, "Okay, now you've earned the right to relax." And the truth is that this journey is really long. It's difficult. And if you don't give yourselves breaks along the way and allow yourself to adjust and explore, you'll just burn out.
Thank you very much, Sophia. You know what? Matthew has raised his hand. He doesn't raise his hand often.
Hey Chris, I've been working on accepting boredom as a big part of my life, and it's been huge in terms of being able to just have downtime to think about the work, to think about the things that I'm ruminating on instead of actually doing the work. And I think those are two very different things. And one thing that I learned from the book, Limitless from Jim Kwik, is that when you go into these stages of boredom, just the downtime to think it's important to have a curiosity in your mind. I'll give you an example. Recently I've been working on a documentary and I've been trying to piece together certain stories for the characters that I've filmed, and I've been struggling with it. What I do is I'll work on crafting the story a little outline until the point where it's like nothing good is coming out.
I pause there and the curiosity in my mind is, "How can I connect act one, act two, act three, and develop this character over the story?" Then what I do is I might go watch a documentary, I might do something that is what 'might' be boredom, but I had this curiosity floating around in the back of my mind and I exposed myself to things like other content, other documentaries, and just downtime to just walk around and having that downtime where I'm not actually doing the work, but there is the curiosity floating. My brain is actively connecting all of these dots and almost to the point where it's like that lightning bolt that sometimes we all experience.
I feel like I've been able to recreate that many times in this boredom because I could see the dots more clearly because I'm creating them, but only because I have that intention in mind. There is a curiosity there that my brain... it's like a task I've given to my brain to do while I'm checked out, while I'm in my boredom state. So I just wanted to add that because I felt like that wasn't covered to have that curiosity or question in your mind as you think about stuff and you have time to think about your projects.
Hey Matthew, just quick question before we move on is, you and I have worked together for a really long time. You're a really high achiever. You are a very conscientious, thoughtful, intentional person. And you mentioned this feeling about giving yours yourself space to just think the negative feelings that you might have around that. Can you talk a little bit more about that feeling of what you did to overcome this?
Yeah, I think the biggest part with anything is realizing that it's there first. So awareness is always the first step, to acknowledge and accept that this is a part of who you are and what you feel, and that you can look at that a little bit more objectively because until you can see it, until you can acknowledge it doesn't exist. It's vapor and it's really hard to grasp onto. So once I realized that the guilt was optional, my feelings towards the events that were happening were optional. I could more objectively look at that. Do I want to feel that way? What are the things that I can change in order to change the situation? And part of that was relinquishing control and realizing that without me being in the picture, things would work out fine. I think there was a period when I was working there for you, Chris and I took a month off, I believe, to do the altMBA program.
And I wasn't really directing the team. It was almost a month, or I might have taken some vacation time off because I had accrued so much, I never took vacation. And it was two or three weeks off and everything still got done. And then I realized in that period, that was just long enough for me to see that, "Okay, three weeks of me not touching the work, it still got done because the systems were in place and maybe I'm trying to have my hand on everybody's wheels when everyone can drive perfectly themselves. I've taught them how to drive, they're smart enough to do it." And once I started to relinquish that control, I started to realize, "Okay, well now that I don't have to manage them, what am I going to do with my free time? What do I want to do with my free time? And then who do I want to be actually? Is a manager of other people's time? Is that what I want to be? I don't think so."
So starting to have some of this space where I'm distancing myself from my expectations and responsibilities to others helped me gain clarity and stop the noise from everything that's being pressured onto me to be able to hear myself. And this was even more helpful after I quit working at the Futur in February, I told myself, "You know what? For the first two or three months, I'm going to say no to every single opportunity, every single thing. I'm going to say no to everything." And I did. So for two or three months, all I did was just work on myself. I realized that's an extreme privilege and luxury to have, but I worked very hard to get to that point, to have space to just not do anything.
And probably for the first two weeks I just played Call of Duty nonstop. And then after that, I got burnt out on that. I was like, "Hey, well, let me sit around and do nothing." And then slowly but surely, all of the obligations and expectations were off of my plate. I started to feel the pull of certain things that I was curious about, and I started creating and I started making. And then I felt like more genuinely expressing the voice that was inside and starting to pedal the wheels and get some momentum there. Now, a whole year later, I feel like I'm moving really fast, moving very far, but I'm not tired. I don't feel like I'm sprinting and sprinting and sprinting. I feel like I'm going at a really steady pace and I'm enjoying the ride. I'm enjoying the scenery. And yeah, I'm feeling good about all of that.
Thank you, Matt. So I think we're going to move to Donna.
Yes. Really, really fast. I was thinking about the idea of the difference between doing nothing because the distinguishing idea between laziness/boredom. And I think it's really important to distinguish, but also I don't know about you. I get my best ideas when I'm busy. I get my best ideas when I'm on a run. I get my best ideas when I'm listening to a podcast, when I'm in the middle of coaching or I'm in a Twitter space or whatever, I don't get my best ideas in silence. I don't get my best ideas when I'm meditating. I can't even meditate. In fact, it's very, very challenging for my brain to turn off it. I don't know how to meditate. Yoga makes me insane. But when I'm doing cardio, I feel like I get my best ideas. So what's up with that? Why does boredom or the idea of intentionally doing nothing, not give me a feeling of ideas or whatever, you know what I mean? It's an interesting kind of thinking or thought around it.
Oh my god. Okay, Donna, now you're pulling me into this one right now. This is very fascinating how you describe, you get your best ideas when you're really busy. And then you say on a run, do you know what's happening when you're running? What's happening is you're concentrating, you're breathing, you take a step. That's really all you're doing. And so you're entering into a meditative state even though you said you don't meditate. And when you're listening to a podcast, what's happening there? You're bored, your mind is wandering, you're daydreaming about other things.
And so sometimes when we're driving, I don't know if you guys know this or not, but you're entering into a state of self hypnosis. You're operating the car in the vehicle going down a road that you've been down a thousand times before. You're entering into an autonomic state and you're switching off a part of your active brain. And then some weird things start to happen. Some of the best ideas start to come up. Same thing happens when you're washing the dishes or when you're taking a shower or doing something really mundane, enter into state of boredom. The ideas get to bubble up. But imagine you trying to come up with an idea when you're actively talking to a client. Pretty difficult theoretically, if you're actively listening.
Everything you're saying is really interesting. I've never thought of the act of doing as being intentionally on the act of doing nothing.
Thank you, Donna. Okay, we're going to move this over to Lisa.
Thank you. I was going to actually say the same thing to Donna. You are bored when you are doing all these actions things. I think that people think, "Oh, meditating is, oh hours I've got to lay on the grass and do nothing," but I learned a tea meditation. And when I'm making tea, I force my body to stop, listen to the bubbles of the tea. Just have that moment where my conscious brain is not living in the future, is not thinking of all the things. And by doing that regularly every day, that has almost become a habit. And it's just time during the day, which our subconscious brain needs that to make the creativity. It can only happen I think...
I loved everything Matt said. We have that idea in our conscious brain. If we really get clear on what problem we want to solve, you then let it go. The subconscious brain does the work, but feed good quality ingredients into that brain and let it just swirl around in the pot and it will break and find that answer for you. And then we all experience, "Oh, I'm driving," the idea pops up. "I'm showering," the idea pops up, because it's only when you stop that they're allowed to break through that barrier.
Thank you, Lisa.
I was just going to add that I know that one of my own struggles, and I wonder if others have struggled with this too, is that we get wired to really enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with doing things all the time. And especially, I know for me, procrastination earlier in my life was something that was a big driver for my productivity. It was like my best creative moments were happening at the last second. But what I found is that I was actually addicted to the adrenaline of doing things, and I had to rewire the relationship that I had and instead see that, no, I actually feel better when I give myself some time and space to conceptualize what I want to put out there or allow my mind to wander, to think about the different things I want to include in a particular project that I'm working on as opposed to being addicted to the adrenaline of, "Oh my God, it's the 11th hour and I need to get this thing done."
So I just wanted to draw the connection there as well of what's the association that we're making here? Are we in a go-go-go mentality? And that's what releases the happy juices in our brain Sso now it becomes difficult to slow it down and it feels like we're getting a depletion in the happy juices, endorphins, if you will. Or is it the opposite where now all of a sudden we're able to be still, we have a positive association with building in time and space and opportunity to be and now that association gets strengthened. So it's something that somebody had asked for some actionable tips. I think that it's something that you can be diligent about and it's a skill that you can learn. And like I alluded to earlier, a tangible exercise that has worked for a lot of the clients I work with is to build this into 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, and build up from there.
And what you do is you just get really curious. You don't pass judgment on anything that comes up, which is usually the first thing that we do. We label a thought or a feeling, good or bad, we're quick to categorize things. Instead, just ask yourself, "Okay, I'm just noticing whatever it was that was coming up in that moment." And you just take mental note of it and keep it moving and just allow those thoughts and feelings to flow through you. And what you find is that you develop much more of a comfort with being able to sit with that, and that's how you build up the tolerance.
I really loved what Lisa had said about having the tea meditation. I do a coffee meditation, and anytime that you're eating lunch, it can be a meditative practice as well where you pay attention to the textures of the food that you're eating, the smells, what it looks like, all of that stuff, the how warm it is. Those are all part of orienting yourself, using your senses and just allowing yourself to be present in those activities is meditative in and of itself, and it does allow your mind to wander to where you can be creative.
Thank you for doing that Nidhi. Amina, the mic is yours.
Hi, Chris. Thank you. Big fan of your work. I've practically grown up with your content, quite literally. So for me, it's quite interesting hearing this concept of boredom. Boredom for me is not something that I enjoy. I don't actually consider boredom a thing in the sense that for me, and the way my brain is wire as someone of ADHD, it's either I'm stimulated or I'm not. It's quite clear-cut. Boredom is a concept for me. It's something that I've realized has been put on me, and it's actually been used to confine me into thinking I'm either productive or not. So the way my brain is wired, I'm literally interest driven. So if I think this is interesting enough, I'll do it. If not, then I won't. I don't want to attach any shame or any feeling of, "Oh my gosh, why am I not doing this? Why am I not doing that?" Which is easier said than done.
And for me, I've constantly got overlapping thoughts, whether I'm sitting down, staring at the ceiling or something, or whether I'm doing something, I don't actually have a stop button. So for me, I've kind of, I guess divested from the concept of boredom because who am I to say a state of being to be something that you can be bored of. It's just you are just there. It sounds really simplistic, but for me, I just don't like the connotations that are attached to boredom because it's often against a measure of productivity in the society we live in where it's just constantly churn out this, do this, do that, do this. And I think for me, enjoyment, relaxation, creative boredom is more of a communal thing for me. I feel like it's hard to let my mind run free with creativity when I'm not around people that I can bounce that creativity with, even if it is in silence, which is quite strange.
But I think the older I'm getting and the more I'm trying to understand how I actually work and function and engage with things around me, the more I realize that boredom as a concept actually confines me. And I just don't have the brain for it. So I'd rather just look at what stimulates me and work with that rather than push against it for the sake of self-care. I think I'd rather just be. The concept of work for me is very much tied into what drives me as a person. So when I find that sweet spot, that'll be great, but as for now, it's just working with my chaotic brain and see what happens.
Thank you very much. I'm going to throw this over to Reza first. Reza, do you have any summary thoughts as we are landing this plane and getting us out of here?
I think being bored can be good. I think being bored can be bad, is just ultimately what action are you taking during that state?
Matthew, any summary thoughts from you?
Yeah, just to piggyback off of Reza, I think one question that has been very helpful for me to understand if my downtime activities are 'good or bad,' is when you're done with an activity, whether that be watching Netflix, playing the guitar, watching YouTube, whatever that is, just simply ask yourself, "Do I feel energized right now? Or do I feel drained and depleted?" Because that was very helpful for me to assess a lot of my pastime activities as to whether or not it's helping to supercharge my creativity versus just draining me and I'm just occupying my time because I'm bored. I just wanted to share that because that was very helpful for me to make those assessments.
Thank you, Matthew. Mo, any summary thoughts from you?
I had a realization as everybody was speaking, that I think the reason why personally I pack a lot of my time with other things is a little bit remnants of my avoidant behavior towards that activity itself. And also similar to the discussions we said earlier, jumping because the reason for not creating boredom is maybe there's a little bit of reluctance to having to hold myself accountable to the work that's required that comes from the boredom and that treads into the avoidance. So there was a moment of realization for me that was super powerful while listening to everybody that just connects with everything we've been talking about over the past few weeks. I just appreciate all of the insight and vulnerability that everyone has shared today.
Nidhi, over to you.
I just appreciated this conversation and I'm really grateful that we're breaking down some of the barriers for people to truly just take care of themselves and not feel bad about disconnecting and allowing yourself the opportunity to just be curious about your inner experiences. It's hard at first, so give yourself some grace, but just know that there's so much to gain as a result of just being curious and leaning into what you're thinking and feeling and allowing that to flow.
And something that I do along the way is after a period of time where I've built in this opportunity for my mind to wander, I write down all of the new insights, and that actually becomes a ton of my Instagram content. It's like my mind just wanders to things that I think that people would want to hear, or solutions for challenges that I might be encountering. And I write them down and it just feels like I've done all the work without doing any of the work. So it's a very rewarding experience, but just know it's a skill that you can develop. Thanks Chris for being here and thanks Mo and everybody who contributed. Really appreciate y'all.
Thank you Nidhi. And here are my final thoughts on this. In a super demanding, hyperactive, always on social chirping society is actually very difficult to enter to a state of stillness and to be able to quiet your mind. There's this quote from Deepak Chopra, "Daydream, imagine and reflect. It's the source of infinite creativity." In my opinion, daydreaming and boredom are cousins. And the biggest, most underutilized creativity hack is to put yourself into a state of intentional boredom. That's it for me. Thank you very much, everybody.
Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur Podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode. And thank you to Adam Sandborn for our intro music. If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me, head over to the futur.com/heychris and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit the futur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.