The Therapists by Day Book Club, based in Orange County, recently read "Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi.
About the book:
Manoush Zomorodi is the creator of WNYC radio’s podcast and show "Note to Self." In 2015, she led listeners in an experiment to help them unplug from their digital devices, experience boredom, jump-start their creativity, and change their lives.
Grounded in the neuroscience and cognitive psychology of “mind wandering” - what our brains do when we're doing "nothing" - "Bored and Brilliant" offers practical steps to ease nonstop busyness and enhance our ability to dream, wonder, and gain clarity in work and life.
Comments from the book club:
Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega, DSW, LCSW-R:
"Bored and Brilliant" demonstrates how important it is to let your mind wander wherever it wants to go - seeing things in a new way, making new connections with people and things around you, and allowing yourself to be surprised.
I have asked couples I have been treating to build in "unfocus" every day. When we feel less tired, we have more compassion for our partners, and it is suggested that we also become more creative and productive.
We all need to remember to be in the now. And if you are raising a child, the discussions on how over-connected kids are to their technology is worth reading.
Katie Helpley, LMFT:
"Bored and Brilliant" challenges the notion that the conveniences of technology allow us to live a more productive life. Instead, we are overloaded with stimulation and information, which leaves little time for our minds to wander, for silence and for time alone.
Most of the book focuses on the impact of cellphone and digital media use and offers readers a challenge to alter their relationship with technology.
I often challenge clients to learn to tolerate being uncomfortable, and also find that people will stay “busy” in an effort to avoid discomfort. The author also notes that limiting use of technology will spark discomfort, but encourages readers to push past the initial discomfort.
I like that the book does not suggest technology is inherently bad or should not be used at all. Instead, the author notes that a mindful, balanced use of technology is an important aspect of living a full, truly connected life.
Mary LeRouge, LMSW, CASAC:
Reading “Bored and Brilliant” was an interesting experience. I found it a bit challenging to stay focused on the reading and ended up getting the audiobook version in order to finish it.
I chuckled at the irony in this, because the author specifically speaks about how technology has caused us to lose much of our skill of “slow reading,” or deep reading. With websites, hyperlinks, blogs and social media, we’ve become prone to skimming versus deep reading, in a sense rewiring our brain.
I also took time to observe my own relationship with my phone, as the book advises.
This book gave me some great information, especially in regard to my kids’ life and their intolerance of boredom. I used it as a platform to have a discussion with my kids and encourage them to participate in the book's challenges with me.
It helped me look at things differently, observe my behaviors and finally unplug a bit! I definitely recommend this book if you feel you’re experiencing digital overload.
Susan McVey, LCSW-R:
This book is an excellent read and very relevant to our society today. I found myself relating a little too closely to the characteristics of being addicted to phones and electronics and worried that my children may be, as well.
I see many clients in therapy who are unable to process their emotions; negative emotions have become something to avoid instead of working through. I loved that the author discussed the role of emotions and the importance of allowing our brain to process them. She quoted, “Every emotion has a purpose, an evolutionary benefit.”
It is important to teach people, especially young people, how to cope with stress and discomfort. And by constantly distracting ourselves behind a screen, we are putting ourselves in emotional danger.
Elena Morales, LMHC:
For anyone who feels constantly connected to a device, "Bored and Brilliant" is a book for you.
Many of us lose sense of time while on our phones. Another common feeling is the compulsion to remain connected to our notifications or messages.
The author challenges readers to pause and take inventory of our unconscious distractions and habits.
I would recommend this challenge to parents who want to model more intentional use of technology - it will have a positive impact on their children. I would also invite any family to try the book's daily challenges and discuss them with each other.
In therapy, people develop a stronger awareness of themselves and create more purposeful changes. Similarly, the strategies in the book help the reader notice more of the impact of the distractions caused by various types of technology.