Tag Archives: thankfulness

The benefits of being bored

Benefits of Being Bored.png

In our culture of FOMO and YOLO (Fear Of Missing Out and You Only Live Once), of celebrating being busy, and of always looking for the newest and best, sometimes I feel pressured to keep moving and never slow down.

As a bucket lister I’m often looking for the next new adventure but I also like taking some time to let myself do nothing, without goals or agendas, and to see what happens. It’s an exercise in flexibility and patience (which I need to practice) as well as a way to let my brain relax and to experience creativity with fewer boundaries.

Better ideas

I get some of my best ideas when I’m bored or not trying to think of good ideas. I also pay closer attention to what’s going on around me when I’m bored (trying to find something interesting – and there’s always something if you look), which makes me think in a different way and usually generates additional ideas. I also learn things I wouldn’t normally learn because I feel like I have the time and nothing more interesting to do. I’ve read detailed posters and pamphlets, watched documentaries and other videos, and skimmed books I probably wouldn’t have otherwise read, all because I was bored.

Appreciation for the small things

Because I’m taking time to look around and not be so busy, I notice some of the smaller, easier-to-overlook things in my life. The sound of the crunchy leaves on my walk, the slightly silly happiness of being able to perfectly color a picture (yes, I love coloring books!), the way that perfect stranger just smiled when we made eye contact. Those kinds of things are so hard to notice if I never take the time to stop and pay attention.

Leads to bigger things

My “crunchy leaf walk” tradition really got established after being bored at university one day. I went out for a walk just to do something random that I remember doing with my mom and brother during childhood and now it’s a yearly personal event. I’ve also had moments when I realized I haven’t connected with someone in a while and decide to send them a nice note, which then leads to bigger opportunities. It doesn’t always happen that a single moment of boredom leads to a life-changing habit or opportunity, but it happens often enough to list it.

Provides a restful space

Sometimes everything just gets to be too much and I really appreciate taking some time to be bored. I’ll do nothing but daydream or sit with a blank look on my face and to have no expectations of myself. It took me a while to be okay with this, but now I really enjoy it because it helps me acknowledge that I don’t have to be doing something in every moment.

On the other hand…

I think it’s good to let boredom refresh you and give you opportunity for creativity and appreciation. However, I know that sometimes I go the opposite way with this and begin to feel like I have nothing new or exciting in my life. I’ll be bored because I’m doing the same thing every day: wake up, work, go to bed, repeat. It’s not fun or interesting and it slowly drains all the energy and motivation from my life.

That’s when I like to do something small to change things up, to shake myself out of the rut and notice the things in life that are enjoyable, instead of focusing on the negative. My bucket list comes in handy for this a lot, and so does going on random adventures or talking to new people.

This feeling of being stuck in a rut is something I know we all experience from time to time. That’s why I thought it would be fun if we did something to get out of that, to challenge the boundaries we’re putting on our own lives, and to notice something or someone new.

I’m hosting the 31 Days of Everyday Adventure challenge and I’m inviting you all to join me. I’ll provide suggested daily activities to help you bring a little adventure into each day. You can decide if you want to do them all or only some, and can share your experiences in the blog comments and on social media (especially Instagram or Facebook).

If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for the Insiders list to stay updated or leave a comment here (The Insiders list is different than just signing up for blog updates). Also please let me know: what’s your favorite part of being bored?

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“Good To Be Alive” – Music Video by Jason Gray

Heard this song on the radio and wanted to share! It’s all about being grateful and making the most of the time you have, in a super catchy tune. I’m including the music video even if I think it’s weird – let me know what you think of it. Also, I found a second video where he talks about his inspiration for the song and his thoughts on gratitude and enjoying life.

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Goal Accomplished! Write 100 Thank You Notes in 100 Days (2014)

thank you pink flower tree card

Photo Credit: AForestFrolic (stampinmom) on Flickr
Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.
–Henry Ward Beecher

First, thank you to everyone who supported me in achieving this goal. Your encouragement and kind words were much appreciated.

This post is a general reflection of the goal and how it went, as well as an attempt to answer some of the questions that came up during the 100 days, for those of you who are considering doing this project on your own.

There were many expectations that I had for myself and for this goal when I started out, most of which didn’t turn out like I thought they would.

I thought I’d write 1 thank you note each day. What I actually did was write an average of 1 per day (1 at first, then none for a few days, then 5 the next day, etc).

Number of notes written during the 100 days

I thought it would “give me motivation and structure to be more intentional about expressing gratitude” – This one happened, just by the nature of the goal. I am slightly surprised that I finished this goal, and even went 2 notes over goal in less than 100 days. Sometimes I get really excited about starting projects but don’t always finish them unless I have a deadline, which I did in this case, but 100 days seemed like a really long time/really far away (I know, it’s all perspective, 100 days isn’t really that long, but it felt that way at first, until I realized I only had 16 days left, and then it felt really fast!).

I thought I would suddenly become a more grateful person – It seems funny to think about now, but there really was a part of me that thought that by the end of 100 days, I would have this gratitude thing completely figured out. Silly me. There is no magical shortcut or special project that can hasten the process, but I still think the practice was good for me.

I thought this would be a one-way project, where I wrote cards to people, and then… that was it. Instead, I ended up getting many notes in return, which cheered me up and allowed me to be the recipient of other people’s gratitude. This made me realize graciously accepting gratitude takes more humility than sharing my gratitude with someone else.

I worried people wouldn’t think I was sincere if they found out about the goal, or that I wouldn’t feel sincere writing the notes because of the goal. This was a concern brought up by a few people when I told them about the goal, and that came to mind several times during these 100 days. I decided not to tell the people I was writing to, unless they asked about it, because I wanted to make sure that as much as possible this issue didn’t come up. Whenever it did come up, whether in my mind or in conversation, the important thing for me to remember was that I needed to write what I would have written regardless of whether I was doing it for this goal list item or as an individual thank you note. The 100 thank you notes wasn’t just a goal to meet, it was a prompt to be more grateful. It’s not insincere to write a card even if a gratitude project inspired it, unless you don’t mean it and you’re just writing it to meet a quota.

Another issue that came up was how to thank people in a way that they would be sure to get the note. I decided that as much as possible, I would send real mail to people (cards, letters, postcards, etc) because it’s fun to get mail. For the people I see on a regular basis, I tried to hand-deliver. For people I was unable to reach by any other written form of communication, I wrote in a journal (for example, I wrote a thank you to God, but this would also work for those who have passed away). Many people I sent notes to I communicate mostly through email, LinkedIn, or Facebook, so those are the methods I used to write their thank you notes. Website contact forms were used for organizations that didn’t list an email or have a mailing address.

Types of thank you notes written

When I started this goal, I thought it would be easy to think of 100 people/organizations to write to, but the day I started planning who to write to, I only could think of about 40 (I quickly filled in the rest, and then realized there were still more people to thank after the 100). I also wanted to make sure that I sent groups of people their thank you notes at the same time, so that no one in the group felt left out, so I saved them after I wrote them until I had one for everyone in the group. For example, everyone at work got their card on the same day, or as close to it as I could.

I’m glad that I did this goal when I did. It helped me get in touch with friends I hadn’t talked with in a while, reminded me to notice things I was grateful for, and helped me express and receive gratitude. I would recommend a project like this to everyone.

If you want more info, you can:

Resource:
How to Be Thankful and Improve Your Life, an article by David Hochman from a 2009 Reader’s Digest issue. David shares his experience with his Month of Gratitude project, as well as tips about expressing gratitude from experts he interviewed, including this tip relevant to projects like the one I did: “‘If you overdo gratitude, it loses its meaning or, worse, becomes a chore,’ Martin E. P. Seligman, the author of Authentic Happiness, told me when I mentioned my slump. Be selective, he advised, and focus on thanking the unsung heroes in your life.”

Other Info:
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