I hear boredom exists. Google's handy definition tool calls it a "state of feeling disinterested in one's surroundings, having nothing to do, or feeling that life is dull." Psychology Today explains that boredom occurs" when our energy isn't channeled into an outlet that provides meaning or fulfillment."
And there you have it! Boredom is entirely self-inflicted!
I wear earplugs while I write. I like to hear my thoughts. Some sound like favorite fictional characters, TV personalities, podcasters, family, friends, and authors I've not heard speaking, but I am sure I know what they sound like. Before you call me crazy, and I am not entirely sure you won't be right, consider how many of your thoughts are actually original.
"They" used to say that we have about 70,000 thoughts per day, but apparently, "they" thought us smarter than we are. This study published in 2020 puts that number at 6200. Either we forgot how to think in the last ten years, or the likes of Deepak Chopra had too many "quiet the mind" programs and books to sell. Or a combination of both…
How many of them thoughts are original? We actually don't know. So, if I am thinking things others have thought already, I should credit them by using their voices. It makes the monologue in my head sound like a party. The earplugs also help block things out, so I get my writing done.
The world is full of curiosities, things to do, and stuff to ponder. Opportunities to get lost down many rabbit holes abound. But while I must curb my enthusiasm for engaging by focusing on what's at hand, so many people struggle to find a single way out of boredom.
Could it be because the availability of too many choices leads to an inability to make a choice? Ask me why I never buy cereal. OK, I'll tell you even if you don't. It's because when I do the cost-benefit analysis of what it takes to figure out which cereal to buy while walking down a 5-shelf high and 30 feet long cereal wall, I end up not hungry for cereal anymore. Look for me in the produce section enjoying the simplicity of buying obvious things.
Could it be that we've been trained with clickbait to secrete dopamine? Like Pavlov's dogs, we now wait for the next bell to ring instead of hunting for opportunities. We overuse our opposing thumbs to scroll down screens instead of holding books and making things happen.
Could it be that hopelessness pervades as the world becomes increasingly more unpredictable, uncertain, and uncomfortable for so many? Checking out seems easier than figuring things out. Trying doesn't get us as far as we want to, so we just give up and end up uninvolved.
I am here to tell you your excuses don't make good reasons. In this same environment, people find a way to greatness every day. Unlike celebrities and influencers, most of them make real contributions you will never hear about. They live with enthusiasm and purpose. Did you know that while most were wallowing in desperation and arguing about masks, 2020 saw the highest number of new business starts on record by a lot! That's bravery, optimism, and a lot of people with plenty to do while everyone else watches Netflix in their pajamas.
So, how can you escape the lulls of boredom?
Tap into your creativity. Creativity wants to be expressed, and those who devote energy to it gain drive and focus. They may or may not find fortune, but they will find fun, intrinsic rewards, and more entangled subplots than a Netflix drama.
Everyone is creative whether they identify as such or not. A well-known local artist asked me if if I was "an artist." I didn't want to argue, so I told her I was crafty. Got me a staredown. Me, I was thinking that just because I don't have an unrecognizable piece of something hanging in an official gallery, it doesn't make me "not an artist." Maybe "artist" is on a spectrum, like light. Is a shoemaker an artist or a craftsman? What if the shoemaker also designs the shoes? Maybe Dali's feeling when he painted the melting clocks is the same as a cabinet maker when finishing a kitchen. Who's to say?
Most of life's nuances, not just beauty, are in the eye of the beholder.
I see countless creative venues all around me. I stumbled on a fellow writer's Rice Mountain project, which blew my mind. He boldly and imaginatively harnesses the power of social media and connectedness to transform a grain of rice into something grand and impossible. If Stew's Rice Mountain project is not creativity, what is? Stew most definitely is not bored!
Learn to pay attention. Paying attention expands your bandwidth. You will notice more and open opportunities for marveling, questioning, exploring, fixing, improving, and learning. That's what Mike Sowden, a chronic misadventurer from somewhere in Yorkshire, is doing with his blog "Everything is Amazing." He writes about curiosity, weird science like Fata Morgana, diamond dust, and stuff that makes your mind stretch a little. He's not bored either. Neither was the Buddha. That's why he taught mindfulness.
Reading Mike's meanderings, I remembered the 30-Day Gratitude program I ran a few years back. I made participants do things they otherwise wouldn't do around the theme of Gratitude. Now, I am thinking of doing something similar and challenging you never to be bored again, currently brainstorming ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next couple of weeks. This will be a great substitute for New Year's Resolutions!
Use your hands. Start something, no matter how small or insignificant. Make a salad. Fold some clothes. Fix something around the house. There's always something to do around. As you start one thing, it leads to another. As you start moving, you shift your state. From a blob on the couch staring at your phone, you transform into a force for change!
Jordan Peterson, a prominent Canadian psychologist famous, or infamous, for writing "12 Rules for Life," is fond of saying, "If you want to change the world, start by putting your room in order." Once the energy begins to flow, ride it to bigger, funner, more important things, like starting dance lessons, painting, building that backyard shed. Or throw some clay, carve some wood, compose your next tune. Humans are visual, kinesthetic, and auditory. Fire up all the cylinders.
Reengage with life, and boredom will disappear.
Get inspired. Copious amounts of inspiration fill the world today. It's as abundant as bad news, but not as many pay attention to it. While most people cruise social media to kill time, I use it to dig up inspiration. That's how I ran into both Stew and Mike, among many others. Since I love writing, naturally, I gravitate towards other writers. I also follow inventors, scientists, groups, and publications literally pipping out cool stuff all day long! I want to clone myself, so there are more of me for all those tempting opportunities out there. Ride inspiration to action!
Life is too short for all the living it offers!
Because it's Christmas, inflation is a thing, and you should be saving money, yet so many people need gifts, consider something people won't throw away, re-gift, or make them fat. How about gifting your significant others a stack of "gift notes" they can redeem with you? Here are some examples "A night out dancing," "I'll make you your favorite dessert." "Five kisses and a spank?" OK, you get the idea. You know your people. You know what they will enjoy and what they usually nag you about. Don't break the bank. Break the monotony!
Gift Paul Bloom's latest book, "The Sweet Spot- The Pleasure of Suffering and the Search for Meaning." I get nothing for it, other than the pleasure of recommending one of my favorite thinkers. Paul Bloom is a moral psychologist from Yale University known for upsetting people who don't like to contemplate. If you want to get an idea of the content, check out this excellent interview about the book by the ThoughtEconomics guy, Vikas Shah.
Thank you for reading.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject of boredom.