Paleo Mag Feature
Simplifying Life and Nutrition with Radical Boredom
By Kylee Seifert
The Paleo diet has gotten a bad rap for being a boring, bland diet that is much too simple for our complex taste buds. When in reality, it's simply stripping down the crap that has made it's way into our diet over the years. Going Paleo allows our bodies to get back to the basics of functioning off of real, nutritious food. Interestingly enough, we see this concept in our daily lives as well. Everyone is afraid to simplify their lives, in fear that they will become bored or be perceived as a boring person. The question is, when did boredom become a negative thing? Why is everyone so fearful of boredom in their diet and life?
Siegfried Kracauer wrote about an idea he dubbed, “radical boredom” in his published essay Boredom, is the idea of completely disconnecting from everyday stimulants.2 Kracauer suggests that it would be best for one to “stay at home, draw the curtains, and surrender oneself to one’s boredom on the sofa.” It was in doing this that one could dream up unapologetic, enthralling and intriguing fantasies that allow one to reconnect with the true essence of the human spirit. While being bored tends to make us feel useless and lazy, it just might be one of the most enticing, beneficial moments we can find ourselves in – aside from meditation.
He was most definitely correct in suggesting that taking the time to sit on your sofa, or perhaps just sit on a bench, phone silenced and put away, no music, no book or newspaper and just let your mind wander, should be an essential part of your day. Aside from delving into radical boredom on a daily basis, meditation can also help simplify and improve areas of your life. A study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, revealed that those who meditate are generally calmer, able to regulate stress better and have improved memory. In this study, they found that it took as little as eight weeks to reap the benefits of meditation.
Take a moment to walk outside, look around you – isn't it amazing all the things we miss that can spark a new idea or a magical dream? You start to wonder how you could truly ever be bored again – cue radical boredom.
Kracauer observed that the world’s stimulants take away from blossoming creativity - that by taking a moment to disconnect and allow the basics of the world to surround you, you can make more space for creativity and connectivity. “People today who still have time for boredom and yet are not bored are certainly just as boring as those who never get around to being bored,” stated Kracauer in his gutsy essay. He observed that people “are pushed deeper and deeper into the hustle and bustle until eventually they no longer know where their head is.” It's easy to see this when you look around. Everyone has their computer, phone, an iPad or Kindle, headphones and a television all within arms reach most of the time. If that's not over-stimulating the senses, what is?
This is similarly related to the stimulants found in our Standard American Diet and how it affects and interrupts the basics—what is naturally meant to be. Just like our society getting lost in the “hustle and bustle” and “no longer knowing where their head is,” our bodies get lost in the roller coaster of hormone stimulating foods, no longer knowing how they are truly suppose to feel and function. Try removing any additives, processed, packaged foods and sugars from your diet. Allow your body to revel in foods that benefit your hormones and see how your body reacts.
So, how do we use this idea of radical boredom to simplify our lives both mentally and nutritionally? For starters, skip the grocery store aisles laden with sugary, artificial, processed foods and start feeding your body a paleo diet. Focus on filling your cupboards with Paleo approved foods—foods that are healing, soothing and nutritious to your body. Take note of how switching over makes you feel. This is such a good way of connecting and creating a newfound bond with your body.
Next, apply that Paleo model to the rest of your life. Just as you stripped down the foods in your diet getting them back to the basics, remove all the noise and distraction from your usual routine. This means eliminating, as best as you can, constant connection with your computer, phone, iPad or whatever else you find is eating up endless hours throughout your day.
This isn't an excuse to skip out on work you need to get done just to accomplish this—it's highly unlikely your boss will go for that idea. We are, however, suggesting that you use the bare minimum electronic stimulants possible. When you are about to reach for your phone out of boredom and wanting something to pass the time, instead allow yourself to embrace that boredom, let your mind wander and see what it comes up with.
Find somewhere in nature, away from visual pollution, to plop down and take in the elements surrounding you. What does it smell like? How does it look, sound and taste? This boredom is your portal to another fascinating, radical world created by you.
Taking this idea of “radical boredom” across all planes of your life will be sure to clarify, simplify and reconnect you with not only your body, but also your mind. When you begin by detoxing one area of your life, say your diet, it will be an easy transition into detoxifying other areas as well. After converting to a healthy Paleo diet, you'll find that you are able to think more clearly and have unlimited amounts of energy throughout the day. By combining a Paleo approach with radical boredom, you'll find that your mind has never been more clear.
Starting today, allow yourself to find the beauty in boredom by simply disconnecting.
In 2007, the city of São Paulo banned all outdoor advertising due to concerns of “visual pollution.”
Just as drugs do, processed foods and electronics release dopamine in the brain, a feel-good neurotransmitter.
Since 1990, studies show that creativity in America has steadily declined.3
Simply disconnecting and getting quiet, a.k.a meditation, can help you stay more focused and improve your ability to multitask. Researchers comparing a group of meditators to non-meditators found that “those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative feedback after task performance.”4
Warner M. Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal. Scribner, 2013.
- Kracauer, S. The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Original work published 1963.
- Bronson P. and Merryman A. “The Creativity Crisis.” Newsweek. July 2010. http://www.newsweek.com/creativity-crisis-74665
- Levy, D., Wobbrock, J., Kaszniak, A. & Ostergren, M. “The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment.”
Proceedings for Graphics Interface. (2012): 45-52.