Bring Back Boredom on Break the Twitch

Hello to readers of Everthrive! 

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to write and record guest content for Anthony Ongaro of Break the Twitch, a website that focuses on minimalism, habits, and creativity. My article "Why We Should Bring Back Boredom" discusses what boredom is, why we think boredom is something to avoid, and what we can learn from boredom. It concludes with ways we can use boredom to our advantage. The goal of my post is to show that boredom is actually a good thing, and not a thing to escape from. 

This was my very first guest post, and my very first recorded Skype call!

You can read "Why We Should Bring Back Boredom" by visiting Break the Twitch. Below, you'll find the video of Anthony and I chatting about Everthrive, why I created my site, and what we can do about boredom. 

A bit about the process of creating guest content...

At first, I was daunted by the task of creating content for a site other than Everthrive. However, understanding boredom - taking time to really reflect, disengage, and grow from those stagnant times in life - is a subject I am very passionate about. I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to share my ideas with Break the Twitch's community! The video element was a challenge for me, as I'm not quite used to being video recorded, especially at close-range. Despite Anthony's very helpful and reassuring coaching, I was rather nervous about the whole filming aspect of the post. But, I guess I did OK? 

Looking back, I know that the experience of being filmed was invaluable. Watching the footage helps me to develop a fuller awareness of how others may see me, gives me a chance to reflect on how I express myself physically and verbally, thereby helping me to be a better communicator. 

Thank you, Anthony, for the opportunity to grow and share with you! 



When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge

Last weekend, I enjoyed a long lunch in the city with my fiancé and our friend Jon. Afterwards, we needed to get to Lincoln Park, and had been planning on taking the CTA. But, when it came time to depart, we made the impromptu decision to walk. It was a gorgeous late spring day in Chicago - perfect for a four mile stroll.

This may not be the best example, but it is an example nonetheless. We chose to walk, breaking our pattern. We changed our plan. We simply traveled north, barely consulting our GPS. We decided to meander through the zoo - it's free! why not? - and, to my elation, we happened upon an amazing art piece near Lincoln Park Zoo's South Pond. I had seen photos of this arch in my Instagram feed, and often wondered where it was, reaching its curvaceous wooden beams towards the sky.

As the arch meets the sky, a pattern is broken, and an appreciation for art and nature takes over. Instead of thinking about the negative impact that civilization has on the world, we think of the positive. Our impulsive decision to forgo public transportation was validated. This arch offered us a zen retreat in the midst of car horns and bustling commuters. Surrounded by a natural prairie landscape, this place provided an entrance to a new world of calm and peace.

“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” - Tuli Kupferberg


"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." - Soren Kierkegaard*

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I took this photo in 2009 while on a family vacation in British Columbia. We had been out all day, searching for humpback and fin whales: both had been seen migrating south for the winter. On our cruise back to the hotel, I caught my brother gazing back at the wake of the boat, losing himself in the ripples of the ocean. Maybe he was thinking about his career, what he would choose for dinner, or where the whales actually were - since we didn't see any that day. I didn't disturb him to find out. I could tell he was in a state of reflection.

Reflection is something that is overlooked in daily life. Unless we are relatively alone, on the ocean, staring into the blameless blue ripples of our seafaring vessel, we find it difficult and perhaps pointless to contemplate our actions. Why waste valuable time to essentially daydream when we have so many tasks that already occupy our time, and they only seem to increase as we get older?

Caught up in the daily "everything," we usually forget to listen to ourselves. Of utmost importance is slowing down and being with ourselves. It's good to pick the same time each day - I do this before I go to bed - to drift off into thought, and rethink actions and choices. Instead of merely thinking, you can choose to write in a journal, go outside, be in nature, or visit an art gallery. Art and nature are both very effective triggers for reflection, just so long as you are in quiet, contemplative solitude.

Questions to consider while reflecting: How am I feeling right now? What contributes to my happiness today? What am I excited about? What am I grateful for?

The benefits of reflection are boundless, since daydreaming and solitude have been meaningfully linked to increased mindfulness and creativity. Nicola Tesla - engineer, physicist and futurist - attested to this, saying "The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind." Faisal Hoque, author of Survive to Thrive, supports Tesla's claims about solitary reflection when he writes about the success of leaders and entrepreneurs, and how they are more able to "experience critical awakenings during self-imposed solitude."

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a physicist, or a blogger, your personal growth is born from reflection. If you make time to be alone and think about yourself, even 10 minutes each day, reflection can give you the courage to see the world differently, to see your life differently, and to commit to making the changes that you need to be happy. As the wise philosopher Kierkegaard* once said, even though life must be lived forward, it "can only be understood backwards." 


If you allow yourself to pause, you might feel love from an unexpected place. 

Most days begin in a rush, and end in a sigh of relief. What follows is a listing of an average day: At dawn, wake up, take out the dog, eat breakfast, get dressed, pack work stuff and self into vehicle. Then, weave in and out of the early morning rush to arrive at a destination where many hectic hours are logged, some things are accomplished but more “to dos” are discovered and logged for future days that aren’t hectic. Again, pack self back into vehicle, do the reverse commute, and end up home where the dog needs to go out, dinner needs to be created, eaten, and digested, lunch for the next day needs packing, laundry needs folding, and then there might be some time to connect with loved ones and read a few pages of that lonely book on the nightstand.

In a day's monotony, it is easy to lose yourself. Your actions - robotic, urgent, and repetitive - can limit your ability to feel present, human, and connected. One simple way to access your sense of self, and unique point of view, would be to press pause. 

In the middle of any task, try taking yourself out of it. Pause and focus on one aspect of that moment, and think closely. Consider it. This could be the whir of air circulating from your desk fan, or it could be the intricate lacing of ice on the windowpane. This tiny act of observation can allow for creativity to creep in, stimulating your imagination, and bringing your unique perception back to the surface. This helps you reconnect with your surroundings, and may kindle a sort of partnership with your environment. If you allow yourself, you might be inspired by some poetic aspect of your surroundings. On a particularly challenging day, you might just be reassured by the subtle affection of a common red standpipe valve.


Click here for related content: Maria Shriver's USC address "The Power of the Pause"