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Since the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, resolutions for the coming year have been rattling around in my head. Maybe this year I’ll actually clean out the attic. I really am going to make an effort to eat less meat. And the old favorite: perhaps this year I’ll finally start drinking the 8 glasses of water a day that 9 out of 10 Poland Spring delivery guys recommend. But then there’s the idea of balance, a concept that seems more myth than anything to me these days, so it was hard to build any kind of “resolutionary” idea around it. How could I stop my brain from feeling like a cluttered mess all the time? Too lofty a goal, I thought – in this day and age it just comes with the territory. So I let it go.

Enter New Tech City, one of my favorite segments on WNYC. This February, New Tech City is launching its “Bored & Brilliant” project which explores our relationship with technology. In a nut shell, researchers have found that the human brain benefits hugely from boredom. From the ashes or boredom arises creativity at its finest, but the advent of the smart phone has all but removed boredom from our lives (and, more disturbingly, those of our children). Have 10 minutes in the waiting room at the doctor’s office? Candy Crush awaits. Just put the kids to bed? Perfect time to delve into Facebook. Meanwhile, our creative minds are atrophying because they’re given no downtime to just be. 

Now, make no mistake, I am far from addicted to my phone. I’ve been known to go a whole day without looking at it, but I do find myself reaching for it the second I feel like I have nothing else to do, as if it’s a safety blanket that ensures my thoughts don’t drift too far. And then there are all of the other screens in my life that beg for attention, from 8+ hours a day on the computer to 2 hours of mindless TV at night before bed. So I’ve decided to join New Tech City’s project and reclaim boredom, and hopefully with it some brilliance. As a creative professional, my livelihood depends on it. As a person, my happiness does.

I want to reteach my brain that it’s OK to leave the state of overdrive and get comfortable with downtime again. It’s perhaps the greatest gift I could give to myself in the new year. Listen to the audio here to learn about the project, and join me in this experiment by signing up at newtechcity.org/bored. Here’s to a more balanced 2015…my attic may not get cleared out, but with any luck my brain will.

~ Trish Salge, Sr. Art Director, The S3 Agency

Link to audio: https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#/ondemand/424783


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