Over the past year or so I have enthused about healthy physical exercise, the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, brain aerobics and countless other ideas that relate to “Brain Wellness”. This blog is about boredom!
Before anyone concludes that Volunteer Mike has completely lost the plot or is in need of urgent medical attention, let me explain that our enterprising Executive Director – Sheila Strand – encouraged me to read an article from Maria Shriver last Sunday. I did read the article all the way through and thought I would share with you the theme and my own conclusions.
Maria starts by saying “Let’s face it. Boredom has a bad rap”.
Like all of us, she grew up not wanting to be bored and tried always to be two steps ahead of the curve, by studying, reading, communicating with the human race and working hard. In fact if you read her Sunday Paper you can conclude that she is an energetic and “driven person”.
“Nothing worse than being bored,” I’d tell myself and my children.
Then she challenged her beliefs about boredom and started longing for moments of silence when she could take stock of what she was doing and where she was going. Maria decided to seek time or space for daydreaming and creativity.
She goes on to say : “I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling. Why? Because I see too many of us running through life with no time to think. No time to reflect. No time to be creative. No time to check ourselves. No time to get to know our evolving selves. No time to ask, “Am I doing what I want to do? Am I living aligned with who I am? Or, am I living in fear? Am I just running around because I’m too afraid to slow down and take a break?”
As she started contemplating boredom and her own desire for it, Maria started seeing books about its benefits everywhere. “I started reading articles warning us that we lose boredom at our own peril—as individuals, and as a culture. I started reading essays written by wise people who took the time to be bored, and discovered that they learned a lot about life, love and themselves in the process”.
Hmm! It makes you think. Would you not agree?
As avid readers of trivia know there is a day designated to most things. E.g, hamburger day, national nudity day, hug a tree day and so on. In July we have “anti-boredom day”!
So, rather than take boredom at face value, turn it around and use peace, silence, tranquility in a purposeful way. Use it to create positive thoughts and quell the automatic negative thoughts (ANTS) that virtually every human being suffers from to the detriment of their brain health. It is far better to emphasize the positive and let go the negatives. Trash them!
Every time you have a negative, angry or stressful thought you release a powerful chemical called cortisol that can actually shrink the brain and make your body feel bad. Conversely every time you have a positive, creative or kind thought your brain releases chemicals to make your body feel good and cools the deep limbic system. When we use boredom purposefully we talk to ourselves and straighten out the ANTS.
I should add here as a reminder that Memory Matters runs a great program called Brain Boosters where you learn much more about the brain, its health and ways to prolong its normal life. If you haven’t signed up yet……..believe me it is worth doing so, particularly if you believe you have a normal healthy brain! We have a class starting on September 18th at Memory Matters facility on Hilton Head Island, and another commencing on September 21st at Hampton Lake in Bluffton. Both run for 8 sessions for two hours on the same day each week. The cost is only $199 for all 8 sessions. More details can be found on our website or at the end of this blog.
The conclusion to the Maria Shriver story is that we need to spend time with ourselves. Yes, you!
Look at the scenery surrounding our beautiful Lowcountry, paddle in the ocean, relax in a kayak and study the native birds, study the stars at night and imagine a place far far away where time stands still, but where it is possible to create something new that will positively impact you, your family and those in your community. Start anew perhaps. Listen to music, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and The Ode To Joy comes to mind as I write, and books that stretch the mind. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan perhaps with its dream sequence? Relax and listen to a TED talk and be prepared to take action of your own. I gave a couple of examples in a recent blog. Paint, or just look at art, it too can be very calming.
Some might refer to this use of ” boredom” as meditation. There is no doubt that meditation is extremely calming and at Memory Matters we experience and enjoy meditation every week in our Connections program and at other times with guest speakers.
I read a simple and useful article in the New York Times on meditation which covers the basics. Please read here NYT How To Meditate. For more in depth information on meditation try reading Deepak Chopra’s work.
In summary, it’s good to be bored in a positive way. It gives you time to be kind to yourself and to recognize that there are so many good things that you do and perhaps can do in the future. Last week I wrote about our Connections Club Members who thoughtfully gave advice to self when they were aged ten years old. There were some profound and wise words. I then challenged my readers to do the same and consider what advice they as adults would give to themselves as ten year olds. Among the answers was one from a lady who is on our Board of Directors. Clearly she found time and space to be bored (!) and concluded: “Be able to be alone with yourself…you get to know YOU better!”
I encourage my readers to write back and tell me how they use “boredom” to good effect. I will share the results with our Memory Care Specialists.
For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test, 1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.
Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness.
Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community.