Why so many useful ideas occur in the shower?

When a kid says I’m bored, his/her parents feel guilty.  If someone around here is bored, someone else must have failed to enlighten or enrich or divert. But boredom is something to experience rather than hastily swipe away. Why? Because life isn’t a parade of amusements.

Children should learn boredom at an early age so that he/she can learn to cope with the million kinds of boredom he/she will face in the future. The school… boring lessons … Nobody will keep him/her entertained.

“Because there is nothing better to spur creativity than a blank page or an empty bedroom,” Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Let them go to their room without anything. You can tell them the truth when they say they’re bored:

“You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

Every spare moment is to be optimized, maximized, driven toward a goal. Parents preparing for a long car ride or airplane trip are like Army officers plotting a complicated land maneuver. Which movies to load onto the iPad? Is this an O.K. time to let the kids play Fortnite until their brains melt into the back seat? What did parents in the ’70s do when kids were bored in the way-back? Nothing! They let them breathe in gas fumes. Torture their siblings.

Things happen when you’re bored.  Imagine a moment when you’re bored and how much you think at that moment. Maybe that’s why so many useful ideas occur in the shower when you’re held captive to a mundane activity.

It’s not really the boredom itself that’s important; it’s what we do with it. When you reach your breaking point, boredom teaches you to respond constructively, to make something happen for yourself. But unless we are faced with a steady diet of stultifying boredom, we never learn how.

It’s especially important that kids get bored — and be allowed to stay bored — when they’re young. That it not be considered “a problem” to be avoided or eradicated by the higher-ups, but instead something kids grapple with on their own. One day, even in a job they otherwise love, our kids may have to spend an entire day answering Friday’s leftover email.

 

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