Is there still room for creativity in a world where we are constantly bombarded with other people’s ideas?
Do we give ourselves the chance to trust our gut if we don’t pause long enough for intuition to be heard?
Maybe we ask for help before we actually need it. Maybe we ask Google for the answers without attempting to respond first.
Maybe…we just need to be bored more.
Lately, I’m seeing so many Instagram posts asking us to choose a favorite—to help them make a personal choice. I can’t help but wonder when someone else’s preference became our own?
I know I’m being harsh; I seek guidance when I’m perplexed, and I love asking for advice from people whose opinions matter to me. I’m also a big advocate for seeking help when it’s needed. But this surge in opinion polls has inspired me to try the opposite and to look inward before taking my dilemmas to the public.
What do I think first and foremost? And more importantly, have I even been giving myself a chance to develop my own thoughts?
When we go straight to the alleged experts in a given area, there tends to be a finality that comes with hearing their viewpoint. Since we asked the most knowledgeable source we could feasibly access—in most cases, Google—the search ends there. We’ve done all we can do.
Or have we?
What happened to trials and tribulations, experiments, learning from mistakes, and discovery through exploration? Some of the most profound lessons I’ve learned have come from getting it wrong the first time because that’s what tends to stick more. In an era where so much information is at our fingertips, it’s easy to look up the “easiest way to make bread,” “the fastest dinner recipes,” and the “life hacks.”
But personal experiences leave deeper imprints, and we’re limiting ourselves when we take the experimental part out of the experience. Again, I don’t mean to take away from how helpful information is. The curated lists of “proven best methods” for doing things have saved my butt more than a few times. I don’t think we should abolish research, shortcuts, or tips from savvy individuals. All I’m saying is that maybe we should leave some space for creativity.
These days, when we debate amongst friends, we’re more likely to ask the Internet to settle the score for us before the conversation has time to get interesting. I won’t even get into the disturbing issue of how often we trust the top search results we see, because who can blame us for not taking the time to triple check sources for every little debate? But can we address the fact that we’ve taken the thinking, the pondering, the analyzing, the wondering, the brainstorming, and the fun out of it?
Often, we’re just not thinking for ourselves anymore. We go straight to the “experts” and trust that the Internet will send us to the right one every time. Then we close the book, settle the score, and leave our brains hanging. In the process, we’ve left out so many potential thoughts and theories. And in my opinion, that’s eliminating the best part.
If Google had been around hundreds of years ago, some revolutionary scientists may have abandoned their research had they known what other, more experienced, more reputable scientists were already working on.
How many of us are stunting our own growth by consulting someone else before ever consulting ourselves? By limiting our actions to what has already been done or proven before?
I know there are still lively debates in many households. I know there are still many who value experimentation. I know there are revolutionaries and inventors and creative geniuses all over the world. But if we look at the average household, are we becoming less imaginative? Are we igniting our creative juices or are we extinguishing them?
Sometimes, I worry that I don’t let myself get bored enough. It’s not something I gave serious thought to until recently when I started reading parenting articles. I’ve come across a few interesting pieces about the importance of children being bored. We tend to overstimulate them with an abundance of toys, all of which are either lighting up or singing songs. We give them screen time. We give them all of our attention every second we’re with them.
Where is the room for make-believe in all of this? Where is the opportunity to learn patience and how to be at peace with no one but ourselves? Where is the room to explore the infinite possibility of imagination?
It’s easy to fall into the rut of over-distracting ourselves. I like listening to podcasts in the shower. I often rely on one to fall asleep. I play music in the car. I check my emails while I eat. I have some form of entertainment in the background of every freaking corner of my life. And I wonder why I have a hard time starting a meditation practice. I wonder why it’s daunting to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and no stimuli to help me get started.
But I can tell you this: I do my best work when I sit through the uncomfortable moments and just put the pen to the paper. I have my “ah-ha” moments when my showers are quiet and contemplative. I have the most stimulating, analytical debates with my husband when we put our phones down, shut off the T.V. and look at each other.
Google is brilliant. Podcasts are informative and wildly entertaining. So are Netflix, memes, and all the books piled up on my night table. But I believe that making time for boredom is making time to recharge.
And when we recharge, our thoughts and experiences have the chance to propagate. From the pause can spring new ideas and vivid realizations. From the stillness, we can come alive.