I go to the Flint Farmers Market several times a week to visit family. This week I had a great conversation with my cousin.
About a week ago we had a tornado and while she was trying to rush her boys all to the basement she noticed one of them was dragging their feet, with their eyes glued to their phone.
At that moment she realized that he felt the phone was more important than this life or death situation they were in. She then started restricting their time with technology.
It has been rough, but she has noticed good things coming from it. For instance family time has been happening more.
This conversation lead to the topic of this article.
I had been pondering this article for a while, and offered her some of its core ideas, namely that there is a lot of value in boredom because it gives you space to give life a good think, and start asking questions that maybe needed to be asked.
Her response, and contribution to this article, I felt was very well thought out and wise.
Free Time vs Play Time
My cousin started talking about free time and the value that it brings, during the conversation however it became clear that we had differing definitions of what free time really was.
My definition was time to do whatever you wanted, and it was an old definition that I carried with me since childhood. During that time all of my free time was spent playing video games. This made free time and video games practically synonymous.
Her definition, however, was much healthier.
“Free time is time that I have that is free from all other things.”
Well, can’t argue with that.
I asked her about time spent with her phone or watching TV.
“That’s play time, because I’m spending time enjoying myself.”
The Value of Boredom
In my early days of experimenting with living without internet in my home I got bored really fast. In hindsight, this boredom is really what brought the most value to me.
While sitting there bored, I discovered…
- I had plenty of time in the world, I was just wasting it
- I did not spend enough time thinking about myself
- A lot of my anxiety rooted simply in not taking the time to address and process my own feelings
These amazing realizations would have never come to pass if I continued staying hooked to the internet while home.
It’s of course not that these realizations are particularly deep, they are actually quite obvious. It’s just taking the time to sit down with nothing demanding your attention and let your brain naturally focus on processing what is troubling it.
This is the value of free time, of which boredom is a risk.
Every day I force myself to get a little bored for a while, and during these times my journal has become my most trusted companion.
With a journal in front of you and a bored mind, you can’t help but process your life and figure out what’s important to you.
Being bored can be a very rough thing to deal with, and make us very uncomfortable. With today’s technology however it’s easier and easier to occupy a bored mind. This is not good.
Give yourself the space you deserve, take some free time. Maybe try out a new prompt. Afterwards reward yourself with some play time.
Thanks for reading! Take care!