How Boredom Has Shaped My Life

In the past few months, I have noticed how frequently I recommend listening to podcasts to the people around me. Every time I am asked what do I do in my free time, (besides chuckling in my head about the fact that I hardly get any free time), I resort to this well-rehearsed answer of diverting the conversation to podcasts and audiobooks.

Mind you, I do enjoy them both and have subscriptions and access to plenty of these on my phone. I have recently come to analyse why have I filled my free moments with these unlike before.

It so happened that on an unusually hot day, following a dust storm there was a power cut that lasted for 7 hours. Coincidentally, my phone and my iPad both were low on battery and I was in no mood to read a book either. It was then I noticed how I’d become habituated of filling all my free time with listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

It initially felt like a pretty harmless observation.

As time ticked past at an unusually slow pace amidst the whirring of the ceiling fan from an exhausted inverter battery, a feeling of uneasiness started filling up my mind.

Though my mind was eager to dismiss it as boredom, my heart was inclined towards a deeper exploration.

I have always taken pride in never being scared of being bored. As whimsical or rather weird it may sound, it is the reality of my life.

As a child, the school summer vacations meant lots of free time for me to be on my own. It was partly because my parents had full on, demanding jobs but majorly because they had chosen to put other things (like their duties towards ageing parents and their work life) ahead of the need to invest more time with me.

As the only child in the house (my brother used to live with my maternal grandparents), I had plenty of time at my hands each day (as I was an early riser) to waste or rather invest in daydreaming. This was the pre-Internet era (or rather, the time when Internet hadn’t reached my part of the world).

In those free hours, I’d scribble my thoughts, which were mainly my questions to life as to why didn’t my parents choose to take me to the movies or for a vacation in the hills than letting me get bored with a pile of comic books and lots of mangoes to savour.

This was the beginning of my habit of channelising the curiosity in me to find the answers I craved for but was too timid to ask openly.

Today, some three decades later, I can safely say, that the seeds to my habit of introspection were sown in those childhood hours of boredom.

As time moved on, I had learnt to be happy to be on my own. Being alone in the house or being left to do my own thing, never scared or bothered me a bit.

As I grew accustomed to daydreaming, my mother’s efforts of enrolling me in the various hobby classes (as they were called in those days) were met with resistance. Though I did end up learning a lot through those classes, I sorely missed the times when I used to be on my own, uninterrupted by the need to prove how creative or artistic I was, which I clearly wasn’t.

This changed when I reached grade 9 at school.

From then on, I hardly had any free time that was not filled with studying in one form or the other. This was when I slowly began to lose connection with my inner self. I was more confused, the number of unanswered questions in my life was soaring at an alarming pace but I had no opportunity to sit back and contemplate what was causing this storm in my life.

This storm stopped many years later, when in the midst of a difficult marriage and crazy work life, due to health reasons, I took a break from work.

It was the time when I was too disturbed to care to fill my free time with TV shows, movies or even social media for that matter.

I was once again, alone with my thoughts.

I’d be honest, initially, I was scared.

I had lost the habit of being alone with myself. I was unprepared to answer the real questions my subconscious mind was repeatedly asking my conscience.

Within minutes, I turned on the TV only to turn it off in the next 10 minutes. I was restless. I was craving for peace but wasn’t prepared to take the path that led me to it. Introspection.

I was sure that the way ahead was difficult, but if I was to survive this phase of my life, I had to re-learn to be alone with myself and muster enough courage to answer the very questions I’d been posing to life.

It was a stressful exercise, but only in the start. Once I overcame the roadblock of dreading to be face to face with the real issues in my life, I hit home.

I finally cut off all the noise and re-learnt to love being with the one person I was born to spend this life with. Myself.

Though this time, I was surrounded by people who were more shocked by the way I was spending time (doing nothing), how disconnected I was from social media and how uninformed I was about all that was happening in the lives of the people I had on my Facebook friend’s list.

Are you scared of being bored? Do you dread your kids saying

However, I was glad to be bored. Because I was bored of living life in the fast lane. I was bored of filling my 24 hours with tasks that overflowed to fill up my days leaving me starved for contemplation.

This was when I reconnected with boredom and embraced it with the knowledge that in introspection lay the emotions recollected in tranquillity – that is, reflection.

These emotions when I started collecting in my journal in writing, filled the empty hours of my life while, I slowly, trained myself how to sit and just be in the present.

This time around, I promised myself to not unlearn the art of being busy with myself and being unproductive if that is what the world chooses to label me.

With time, the busy me forgets this resolve.

With time, I get swayed by the constantly bombarded, oft-advertised need to multi-task and be my productive best.

But, am grateful for nature programmed me to be a procrastinator.

Every time, the going gets tough, I’m persuaded by my conscience to return to the authentic self, the part of me who feels at home, daydreaming, contemplating and seeking answers by reflecting on my life and actions.

Today, as a parent, I am again at the crossroads of choosing the path of pushing my child to invest her summer vacations with endless extra-curricular activities like her peers or to let her be guided by her instinct and take on life at her pace, leaving room for boredom and watching the clouds change shape at their leisurely pace.

The more I talk to other parents, the more I get worried by how much boredom is dreaded by the parents.

I have seen it first hand in my home, that my parents never panic or offer a dozen solutions to cure boredom everytime a child says they are bored.

Boredom isn’t a problem that needs to be solved.

What to do when you or your child feels bored?

Let the person feeling bored, take time to find out what’s boring or bothering them and address it in their own way. It might sound like a boring exercise, but that’s how boredom works.

In the competitive world, we now live in, letting our kids while away time, feeling bored seems counter-intuitive. But from my personal experiences, I am confident, if I let Pari spend her school holidays her way, she’ll grow up to be okay. Even if it means she ends up becoming a person like me.

With Pari, I have been at work to help her understand that being bored isn’t a bad thing.

It is not necessary to have our days filled with distractions or activities.

Following our heart, even if it craves to create a mess with watercolours and dough is better than spending hours with the iPad on the pretext of sharpening our reasoning.

That’s just my way of looking at life. I do not say, it is anyway better than what other parents choose to let their kids do.

For me, what the world calls boredom, is, in fact, a means of slowing down the pace of time. Giving time the space to stretch and be filled with me-time.

Its beauty needn’t be diluted by fun activities.

It needn’t be influenced by the world who constantly chimes in how much they accomplish with enhanced productivity skills in the same hours I spend contemplating.

And most certainly, it shouldn’t need me to be losing this life, endlessly scrolling through social media feeds and letting algorithms decide for me what I watch next or shop next.

It’s tough to be bored in the times we live in.

Yet, I’d like you to honestly answer the following questions:

Are you bored with your work?

Are you bored with your life?

Are you bored with your routine?

If you said yes to one or more of the above questions, its time you embraced boredom, took the time to find out what exactly you’re bored of and work on it.

Our attention is being battled for by the many apps we’ve installed on our mobile devices who’re constantly updating to keep us entertained at the cost of driving us further from our own selves.

If you think self-care is a mere buzzword, mindfulness is just for the monks or a practice that’s being milked by media to sell us boredom packed in a fancy packaging, you, my friend, should try to experience boredom my way.

Shut down all gadgets, TV, mobile, smartwatches, all of them and choose to be alone, all by yourself.

This boredom quote captures the true essence of boredom. Are you scared of being bored? Do you dread your kids saying

You needn’t be anywhere fancy because you’re getting ready to delve and explore the beauty of the universe that lies within you, with answers, the happiness, the peace and contentment you’ve been seeking all over the world.

What are you to gain by doing this?

You might not accomplish much in the start, but for once you’d be amazed by how the time that always seems to fly, offers to slow down for you, once you begin to think about all the things that bore you and why.

Besides, this could be the very step that’ll connect you to your conscience allowing you room to make peace with your flawed, imperfect self.

As for filling my time with podcasts, these school holidays, am cutting them down to make more room for the one activity that has brought me closer to myself ~ boredom.

And if you’re wondering that boredom can perhaps only help you connect with your inner self, you MUST watch this TED talk.

Learn to love being bored as Manoush Zomorodi explains the connection between spacing out and creativity.

“So the next time you go to check your phone, remember that if you don’t decide how you’re going to use the technology, the platforms will decide for you.

And ask yourself: What am I really looking for?

If it’s to distract yourself from doing the hard work that comes with deeper thinking, take a break, stare out the window and know that by doing nothing you are actually being your most productive and creative self. It might feel weird and uncomfortable at first, but boredom truly can lead to brilliance.”

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How keeping a gratitude journal is changing my life for the better

Sixty-six days already into 2017, I thought it is best to look back on how am doing with my plans for the year. With this year being as unpredictable as the clearing shower of yesterday afternoon, I can only hope to continue being positive (while practicing deliberate gratitude) about whatever comes my way.

Blogging has come to a standstill, owing to the crisis that kept me off writing, reading to the bare minimum and squirming in anguish through February with a sprained wrist and a very sick child at home.

As things are slowly beginning to look up, I wanted to get back to writing, in my quest to gain some clarity on my life. What better than blogging about it all at first opportunity.

Writing straight after a workout, I am loving the sense of urgency in my typing. The depleted glucose levels might be the prime cause, but the effervescence of the thoughts in my mind, competing like the bubbles in the coffee foam, to find permanence in words is the real reason why I’m here at this hour.

Sticking to the routine of writing the gratitude journal is one of the many things that have been put off in the past month. Some days I have been too tired to scribble more than the date of the day. On others, I had the journal in hand, a blank page staring at me, many thoughts singing of how grateful I was for my life, but I just couldn’t put them in the journal for the sheer lack of will. On any other occasion in life, I would have ruthlessly called it laziness, but today is different.

On more than two occasions, postponing writing in the journal has gifted me with a reason to reflect better and end up with unexpected answers during the walk, the following morning.

The odd benefit of regular journal writing has been, I am back to writing beautifully like I did in my earlier years. This made me realize, that when I had thought that with age and time, I had lost my ability to write beautifully formed letters it was all just a lack of my effort to write regularly.

Another joy I recently discovered from journal writing is the newfound realization of the abundant life (with its due inadequacies) I lead. Gratitude has helped me see problems as possibilities, obstacles as opportunities waiting to be tapped upon. I am now more eager to check out, what more I can do to change the course of events. There is a sudden surge in my curiosity. I have started questioning everything. Something I always wanted to do but had strangely not been able to practice.

writing-in-a-journal-each-day-with-a-structured-strategic-process-allows-you-to-direct-your-focus-to-what-you-did-accomplish-what-youre-grateful-for-and-what-youre-commi

The more I read, the more I want to write. The more I experiment with life, the more grateful I feel. The more I recall positive moments of life that I had missed noting earlier.This is the first time in my life, I have felt that way.

In hindsight, around a decade back, something inside me had suddenly turned on the strong need to read more than I was reading at that time (which was around 3 to 4 books a year). Until recently, I had never thought of that change as anything significant. But today is different.

Today, I see it as my life’s preparation for the future that is now my reality. Come to think of it, maybe, I am heading in the right direction, perhaps I succeeded in deciphering the clues, life kept giving me. The daily reflection in my gratitude journal has given me hope, that maybe, I am not as lost as I sometimes feel about myself. Maybe, one day, I will be at a place in life where I can look back and feel proud of myself of having achieved something worthwhile.

There have been mornings when I felt so quiet inside that I was left wondering, what do I think about in my hour-long walk. That is something outright absurd for an overthinker like me. I am usually never short of things to worry about, but recurrence of such episodes are perhaps a healthy marker of the fact, that my attempts at blocking out unwanted worries, contemplating them all before hitting the sack are beginning to bear fruit. I am beginning to wake up with a clear mind and to look at each day like a clean slate.

A beautiful thought struck my mind this morning;

“As life always makes better sense in hindsight, to gain clarity, we must strive to move on.” ~ My Era

Among the books that I read in February, is Party Time in Mussoorie by Ruskin Bond. The book is a collection of short stories loaded with Bond’s simple yet supple writing that helped me swim through the rather rough patch of life with its wry humor and a generous dose of wit.Party time in Mussoorie

Having read many titles by Ruskin Bond in the past year, I have come to feel as if I know the author personally. This feeling is fuelled by the fact that every book by him has a repetition of a story or anecdote from his earlier works, that warms up my heart with the knowledge of reconnecting where I left before.

Though there are many favorites in this anthology that inspires the reader to see the funny, sunny side of life, I was enchanted by ‘Simple Living’ the most because it comprises of the excerpts from the author’s personal diary. I read this part of the book at a time when I had started doubting the relevance of writing a journal when I already have a personal blog to do so.

And today, am confident that writing a gratitude journal in ink is one of the best decisions I have made in favor of my wellbeing. The other being, stepping out of the confined life I had been leading until December 2016.

I do not claim to be all sorted. I am far from have found answers to all the questions but the practice of constant reflection during morning walks with the firm foundation laid by the immense feeling of abundance and gratitude the gratitude journal has been providing me, I feel calmer, alive and healthier than I have felt in a long time.

The song on my mind: Tum agar saath dene ka wada karo ~ Hamraaz (1967)

How I’m Melting Away My Stress With Every Step

I started going for morning walks in December.

With the advent of 2017, my resolve has been firm and there has been no cooling of the steam to keep me walking. However, I have come to believe that relying totally on will-power to achieve long-term goals (fitness, career or any other) can often be pretty daunting and can often lead to a feeling of burnout.

This is why I have been working on revamping my morning schedule overall.

The chilly mornings with temperatures dropping to as low as 2 degrees centigrade, don’t allow much room for experiment or adventure. But, the dreams that haunt you in the night and keeps you moving in the day, know how to push you out of the covers no matter how cold it might be.

The simple yet effective stress relief tips that are helping me emerge stronger than ever before. Read the full story to know how I

I am a morning person who always chose to wake up at 5 am instead of staying awake past 10:30 pm. Reviving this old habit, making room for a productive routine has been easier than I had imagined.

However, the real challenge was fitting in the motivation to keep doing so, day after day and still waking up just as excited about it like day one.

From personal experience, I know how easily and without wasting any time I’d get ambivalent. I’d then spend hours re-thinking my choices before gradually returning back to the old, procrastinating self that’s tormented by depressive thoughts most days.

When motivation visits you, it’s best to offer it a chair and befriend it. Don’t just hope that it stays, but adopt ways to lure her to stick around like a best friend forever.

This was when I summoned my positivity and eternal optimism to help me make this happen.

A productive day begins by having a clear plan in place the night before. Read the detailed post on my blog that talks about how I'm melting away my stress with each step

The morning hours have a way of slipping past our grip like sand.

No matter how many mornings I have walked on the face of this earth, I can never stop being amazed at how quickly I can lose the precious quiet minutes, I hoped to put to use changing my life around.

I took these baby steps that have proved to become the best ways to relieve stress for me:

  1. I started with training myself to sleep on time to allow myself at least 7 hours if not 8 of peaceful sleep (without fail) every night. It was rather tough after having had an erratic sleeping pattern for the past many years when I often slept as little as 4 to 5 hours.
  2. Another important step in this plan has been spending ten minutes before bed-time having a definite plan in place about all I want to achieve in the first 4 hours of the morning. This way, before I hit the sack, I have a clear mind space, a plan in place and I sleep to wake up ready for action.
  3. Waking up with an affirmation. I often have an affirmative (positive) idea scribbled on a piece of paper and left on the side table to read, smile and jump out of bed with the enthusiasm to achieve it. A recent one was, “I am going to make the most of this beautiful morning.” and today’s thought was “I am ready to have my morning recorded in a blog-post” and that’s exactly what am doing. I choose to keep them simple, achievable and in present tense (with the intention of making it happen that day).
  4. Before I get to the grind I choose to stretch myself well, smile and decide the task of the day. The task of the day is a little fun thing I choose to do during the hour of my morning walk. For example, spotting at least 5 new flowers or 2 new birds (as I walk past gardens), or paying more attention to sunlight at play at the horizon. It’s fun, keeps my mind occupied, keep me soaking the natural beauty around and be happy at the same time.
  5. Reminiscing the moments from the last day that I’m grateful for. This is a new addition to the train of thoughts I allow room for in my morning walk. It has been quite a mindful addition that keeps me motivated and feeling positive throughout.

These little steps have been helping me going about melting my stress every morning. Seven weeks into brisk morning walk, I can safely report am feeling fitter and more (emotionally) aware of my well-being than what I have felt recently.

Though there have been dull days when I have been ill or too tired to step out.

The affirmations and the awareness that dawned on stress relief has kept me ready to face whatever comes my way.

The song on my mind: Aati rahengi baharein, jaati rahengi baharein ~ Kasme Vaade