thoughts by ch3ngl0rd ᕦʕ •ᴥ•ʔᕤ

Staring at a Wall: Embracing Deliberate Boredom

You should spend more time being bored.

I spent twenty minutes staring at a wall. Was it worth my time? Yes. Did I look a little bit crazy doing it? Maybe a little.

My friend Josh Shipton recently talked about the Power of Embracing Boredom, and how boredom is needed for your mind to process your thoughts. One exercise he recommends is to sit down, and stare at a wall. I had my doubts, but after one session of staring at a wall, I found it extremely rewarding.

The exercise is quite simple to do:

  1. Set up a timer for ten to thirty minutes
  2. Stare at a wall

I found the exercise to be most effective with twenty minutes and a white wall.

Unexpected Insights

thoughts by ch3ngl0rd ᕦʕ •ᴥ•ʔᕤ

During my walling session, a scene from The Lego Movie unexpectedly came to mind: the moment when the old wizard and the emo girl discover Emmet's profoundly empty mind. While they initially mock him for this and crush the idea of a double-decker couch, their laughter is cut short upon witnessing the vision of 'The Man Upstairs'.

Master Builders spend years training themselves to clear their minds enough to have even a fleeting glimpse of The Man Upstairs.

- The Old Wizard Guy

This exercise taps into the same power that many meditation practices aim for - an uncluttered mind. When our minds are clear, they become fertile grounds for introspection and fresh ideas. In just twenty minutes, I generated more insights and processed more unfinished thoughts than if I had simply tried to write them down at a desk.

One aspect I appreciate is how simple this exercise is. In the past, I've tried other meditation techniques, only to feel lost as if I was somehow meditating incorrectly. But sitting in front of a wall? There's some unexpected beauty to it. The sheer emptiness seems to prompt the mind better than just closing my eyes and thinking. And the slight discomfort of staring at a wall for twenty minutes provides just enough sensation to anchor you to the present. It's the perfect nudge to keep you grounded in the moment.

Don't get Lost in the Sauce

During my "walling" session, I reflected about the importance of Taking a Step Back - we should schedule times in the future to take a step back to make sure that we're not losing sight of the bigger picture or becoming too obsessed with minor details - essentially, not getting "lost in the sauce".

Lately, I've become interested in entrepreneurship and how startups work - reading books like The Lean Startup, Zero to One and The Mom Test. While they've offered invaluable insights, I find myself at a crossroads. Should I continue grokking knowledge through reading, or is it time to take the leap and start building a startup?

Take "The Lean Startup" for instance. It emphasises that startups operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty. The key to succeeding is to write down the riskiest assumptions and validate or invalidate them with MVPs (Minimal Viable Products). This insight alone has probably saved me a huge mistake in the future. Yet I'm left wondering: Would diving into more books be as beneficial as actually building and bringing my startup idea to life? Are there insights in the next chapter that could supercharge my performance? It's hard to say.

While staring at the wall, I realised that just as it's easy to get lost in thought, it's also easy to get lost in endless reading and preparation. Sometimes, we need to step back, reflect on what we've learned, and take action. Reading about startups is helpful, but at some point, we need to start building one.

Final Thoughts

I think you should stare at a wall at least once. If that doesn't suit you, go on a walk and deliberately plan to be bored. Leave your phone at home. Don't bring your headphones. Simply immerse yourself in your surroundings, free from distractions. Lose track of time and appreciate the world around you.

You should spend more time being bored.

ch3ngl0rd out.

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