In January, it can be easy to add more things to our mental load, but Annie challenges us to have less and spend more time being bored and reflective.
A new year often signifies a new start, a fresh approach to the year ahead, and a new calendar that may adore your desk or kitchen wall. The month of January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. Janus was believed to have two faces, one for looking at the past and one which looked to the future, very much like our self-reflections of the past year and the new one ahead. And as all New Year’s begin so do our thoughts towards our New Year’s resolutions.
For years I have entered each new year with creating resolutions that quite frankly were possibly set to ‘fit in’ or to ‘conform’ with society or the culture of a workplace. Personal resolutions have included something like losing 4 stones in a week which no amount of exercise, salad or medical wonder would either advise or say is possible. In addition to personal resolutions, there was always a work resolution too. One such resolution I have previously set myself has been to complete all my marking as soon as it hit my desk or now my inbox, but of course, this is also impossible! This resolution does not consider how I might be feeling on submission day or the fact that not all my students will submit their work on time, and no consideration is given to what else is going on in my life at the time. So again, IMPOSSSIBLE, and I set myself up to FAIL!
What next then?
I am aware that my brain is very busy and in my current position as a writer, researcher, and educationalist I often jump from one task to another, but I am sure all of us do no matter what job we do or don’t do. This can also be said of the tasks that I perform around the house, for example I may be folding washing but whilst I am doing this, I am already playing out in my brain the next one or even two jobs I wish or need to do before I reward myself with a coffee.
If I were to draw my brain during these episodes I would draw a plate of jelly strawberry laces, entangled and busy weaving and producing thoughts and plans for the next activity. Alongside the strawberry laces, I would draw maybe those other famous jelly sweets (you know which ones I mean), the ones that have lots of sugar on the outside and make your face twitch and your body shudder a little at their sourness. These sweets are the part of my brain that are sparking, fizzing and snapping and whilst I certainly do not claim to be a neuroscientist, I do appreciate parts of my brain are wiring and firing.
My interest in the brain, education, well-being, and reflection has led me to engage with several texts, the work of Zomorodi (2017) being just one of them. Zomorodi talks about how being bored can lead to brilliance and this has made me reflect upon just how many times in our day or working week do we give ourselves time to be bored, give our brains the chance to switch off. Zomorodi, (2017, p.19) states, ‘boredom is the gateway to mind-wandering, which can help our brains create those new connections’. So, upon reflection and with much more reading and research to do I do believe I need to consider giving myself the opportunity to be more bored, to truly switch off and create a space where I can be at ease and free from distractions so my mind can wonder. So, this is my one and only New Year’s resolution for 2022…to be more bored!
Ask yourself how often are you bored; how often do you flick the imaginary off button to stop in your brain? How often do you create time for yourself? How often do days and weeks disappear and you remark where did that month go?
I invite you to take the opportunity to pause for a while, contemplate and reflect upon your needs as we travel through this month and the rest of the year, and you may have already set your New Year’s resolutions but how about adding one more? How about adding taking time to BE BORED?
Zomorodi, M. (2017) Bored and Brilliant. How Time Spent Doing Nothing Changes Everything. London: Macmillan.