Is there no interesting nature nearby to journal? Or do you feel you've lost enthusiasm for nature journaling? Let's dive into how some people can find interest in what most other people consider mundane, how to find it yourself and most importantly, how to never get bored nature journaling.
Here are 9 tips for when you either:
- Get bored nature journaling, or
- Find there's nothing interesting nearby to nature journal
If you prefer to watch the video version of this you can find it here:
Getting bored while nature journaling
What is boredom and why do we get bored in the first place? Boredom has to do with feeling disinterested in a subject or our surroundings, or find an activity dull or tedious. One very important thing to note is that boredom is a perception - two people in the same environment can experience completely opposite emotions: one boredom, the other excitement.
Boredom is a perception
that we can change through willpower alone.
Being bored is a mental state most people find unpleasant - they crave some kind of stimulation. BUT - it's possible to change your mind so that something that you used to consider boring is now rather interesting. So how can we make this happen?
I've mentioned this previously - the key to changing your perception is.. to change your perspective! By changing perspective we allow for new experiences and opportunities to explore. We change from the person being bored in the same environment to the person excited. You can do this by physically moving around to a new viewpoint or finding a different focus through a new exercise to look at a boring "old" subject with fresh eyes. This is crucial to practice beginner's mind, a Zen Buddhism technique used by nature journalers to have an attitude of openness and curiosity like a beginner would. This mental shift can be even more powerful than a physical change.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." - Suzuki, Shunryu (1970). Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
An inherent part of nature journaling is to tap into our curiosity. Curiosity is the antithesis and cure to boredom. To practice and build your sense of curiosity ask questions. Children are the perfect example of this. They have to learn so much about the world around them and how it all works. They learn by observing others with curiosity, mimicking them, trial and error and asking many, many questions. Sometimes they can even ask a question and before waiting for an answer are already asking the next one.
Journaling with others can help stimulate further interest in an object because there are literally more eyes - your friend might spot something you hadn't noticed, or you might ask an interesting question that could prompt them to keep exploring.
Apart from the obvious issues with boredom, one that can cause a negative effect is that it can lead to difficulty concentrating. It's not ideal for learning about our environment or for completing an activity. One reason why we feel bored could be due to the task being too easy i.e. we have more than enough skill to complete the moderate challenge:
It can also be "a response to a moderate challenge for which the subject has more than enough skill." - Csikszentmihalyi, M., Finding Flow, 1997
Realising this about ourselves can let us adjust the difficulty of the task to provide more stimulation and make it more challenging. Always draw birds? Can recognise them just from their call and know all the ones in your area? Go for a hike to a new place with unfamiliar birds or focus on something different like what they're eating or drawing the trees and landscapes they're in instead. Extend beyond what you know and aim to learn something new about them each time you add an entry in your journal.
Nothing interesting nearby
What if its not you getting bored - there's just nothing interesting to nature journal? Then I say: read the first part again, because finding something boring or interesting is all in the mind and there is interesting nature everywhere.
Many people search for something that will let them experience awe or wonder that day. I would argue that it is easier to find awe when we're traveling or experiencing something new. Our mind is open to accepting all the information around us and is already alert to spotting differences. So going away for a trip or even just a day hike to a new place is ideal to experience that awe again.
Keep in mind though, we don't have to experience something new - its possible to feel awe and wonder in the "old" too. Watching the sun rise is a great example of something we've probably seen before but can still feel a joyful experience each time we see it. This is what beginner's mind is all about.
As a child everything is new and therefore interesting to learn about. As adults who have experienced it many times we lose interest because it doesn't apply to our safety or daily concerns. But by slowing down and pausing, and looking closely at something we have dismissed we can learn to appreciate the wonder and experience awe in nature again. Look again at something you're familiar with and ask "What's new this time" or "What haven't I seen yet"?
You certainly don't need to travel far to find nature nearby. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that only the interesting nature is in parks or remote places. Search and you might be surprised at just how interesting nature can be right at your doorstep, if you look closely enough. Explore your local green space or playground.
Interesting doesn't have to be exotic but if you want to focus on something that's not nearby or you can't access then there are a few ways of approaching this. Firstly the internet allows us to watch online virtual tours, use Google Earth to visit the other side of the world and spy on animals using zoo webcams. There are documentaries to watch like David Attenborough's but equally useful could be browsing footage from your last holiday or photos. Or keep a folder, either digital or physical, full of inspiring images and ideas.
How do you get around feeling bored or finding interesting nature?