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017: Promoting the Lost Art of Boredom For Flow, Creativity, and Intuition

podcast Jan 16, 2021

On this episode of the High Flow Lifestyle Podcast we are looking at some recent flow in the news and will discuss the benefits of the lost art of boredom.  

With all of the stimulation we have in our lives, whether it’s digital or just in the form of advertising, we’ve lost an important ingredient for creativity, intuition and flow, and that’s boredom.  

I was recently reading an article on CNBC and they were talking about how Ellen, the mother of Sara Blakely, founder and CEO of the Spanx shapewear brand, had raised 2 successful entrepreneurs. The secret, she said was to let your kids be bored and let them figure things out.  

Her daughter Sara, who’s now 49, turned just $5,000 into a billion-dollar business and her brother Ford Blakely, who’s 45, created the messaging platform Zingle, which was acquired for $42 million in 2019 

So how did mom do it? Ellen said, 

“It was important for me to give them freedom to explore what they wanted to do with their lives. They had a lot of free time, which I don’t think kids today do. I think creative free time is so important.” 

“Things are so programmed now, with sports and activities that their parents drive them to constantly. We didn’t do that.” 

“Sara would say, ‘Mom, I haven’t got nothing to do.’ She would be bored. And I would say, ‘You’ve got a lot of toys. Figure it out.’ I didn’t really entertain her,” Ellen said. “It’s about creativity and free time and learning to entertain themselves.” 

Ellen said that she let her kids be bored and encourages other parents to do the same thing.  

I don’t think parents always need to be stimulating kids either, that’s not your job. Now I encourage a stimulating environment, where kids can explore, but let them do it on their own. I love the feeling of being able to tell my kids Miana and Hawk to go outside and play, yes it makes me feel like my parents because I was told that a lot growing up, but I know there is a positive benefit to it in the end.  

Sara was always doing little creative businesses like lemonade stands, selling her drawings in the neighborhood out of her little red wagon, and charging kids to come to her house for mini-golf.  

Ellen said her relaxed parenting style gave her children the freedom to “explore and try things,” which is what led to the growth of their entrepreneurial spirit. 

(It’s the same sentiment Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has expressed about parenting to raise successful kids: “Let them explore,” he said in 2018. “Be a little loose, let them explore and try their own things....”) 

Ellen had some final advice for parents,  

“Let kids find their passion,” “Pay careful attention to the things that they really like and encourage that. Go with your gut, your instincts. Do the best you can. It’s very difficult being a parent.” 

I’ve seen my son get deep into flow for long periods of time from just sitting on the floor in his room and building and playing with his legos. Together they have come up with numerous crazy role-playing games all from their imagination. Big sister tends to dominate the game but little brother is also contributing and building on the story in his own creative way. I know that using boredom has definitely helped us in fostering their own independent creativity and flow activities.  

I don’t think this needs to stop as adults though. We need to give ourselves permission to take a few minutes in the day and just daydream. Stair off into space or at the sky or the trees blowing, and let your mind just wander. This is a part of the incubation process needed for creativity and the subconscious to do its thing.  

Next time you are at the supermarket and standing in line, resist grabbing your phone and scrolling through aimlessly. Instead, either allow yourself some zone out time or think about what you’re going to write in your gratitude journal later on. There’s always something to be grateful for if you train your mind to focus its attention there.  

So I encourage you, allow yourself to embrace the lost art of boredom and promote it to others around you. I promise you, you aren’t missing out on anything, and this could lead to some amazing ideas that change your world forever. 

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