“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.” ~Arthur Schopenhauer
Want to know the plain hard truth about boredom?
Boredom says more about you than it does about the thing that bores you. (Tweet)
I know this because I’m never bored anymore. But that hasn’t always been the case.
When I was younger, my friends and I would frequently find ourselves bored out of our minds. At some point in the midst of our boredom, I would ask the most impotent of questions: “So, what do you guys want to do?”
I hoped for an inspired idea, one that would ignite the powder keg of fun, opening the floodgates of possibility … assuming, of course, we could do it for free, now, and preferably from the couch with the TV on.
But alas, my friends would invariably shrug and answer, “I dunno. What do you want to do?” I would shrug back and sink deeper into a mental slouch doing whatever boring thing we were doing at the boring time the boredom set in.
The Nature of Boredom
But here’s the thing: Boredom doesn’t “set in.” It doesn’t settle on us like dust in the attic or strike us like lightening or wash over us like so much rain in a thunder storm, soaking us in waves of ennui.
Boredom is the natural state of the passively uncurious, the unadventurous and indecisive. (Tweet)
Boredom is the predictable condition of the status quo, of those unwilling to get up and move, to take an interest in things around them, to awaken, learn, or get excited about the freshness of new ideas and undiscovered possibilities.
Boredom is the side effect of disinterest, not the condition of uninteresting things. (Tweet)
Boredom is the product of an inactive mind and a body used to lethargy. (Tweet)
Boredom is as Boredom Thinks
One person can watch a Discovery Channel program on space or volcanoes or the history of fruit salad and fall asleep bored out of his gourd while another watches the same program totally fascinated.
But if boredom naturally arose from the nature of the thing that bores you, the nature of the thing would bore anyone who interacted with it.
And yet, it doesn’t. Some people simply find everything interesting.
The Tyranny of Boredom
And yet boredom is not a victimless crime. It inflicts little wounds that add up to large gaping holes in people’s lives. It’s a crime of self-disrespect as we allow the moments of our lives to slip away unused, unclaimed and unvalued.
3 Ways Boredom Undermine Happiness
1. Boredom reveals a mind operating below potential, pulled to half-mast, removed from the microwave of life too soon. (Tweet)
Wasted potential is like a sailboat with the sail only pulled to half-mast. It’s the failure to recognize the tree in the seed or the possibility in the moment. It’s a crime of omission as a self-inflicted wound.
Boredom is the price paid for lost opportunity and delayed potential. (Tweet)
It’s the oil leek on life’s driveway when cars and lives are never put into gear and driven. Dreams remain unrealized or only half-pursued. Potential is squandered, possibility muted, happiness diluted and life eclipsed by a yawn. When we fail to reach higher and become something more than we currently are, we atrophy; and there is no happiness in an atrophied life.
2. Boredom is the slow drip of time leaking into the drain of irretrievability.
When it’s chronic, boredom saps the body of energy, the soul of will, the mind of creativity and the heart of passion. It’s a trap and a cancer and the act of self-immolation all wrapped into a single tired sigh.
When we squander the irretrievable moments, we devalue the life we were given and drain it of all the color and texture life was meant to have.
3. Boredom is, well, boring!
Boredom just doesn’t play very nicely with happiness. As a matter of fact, they can’t coexist at the same time in the same person. Boredom prevents happiness from fully ripening on the tree of life. The more of one necessarily dictates less of the other.
Besides, boring just doesn’t feel very good. It sticks to the skin and coats the soul in a gray numbing fog, leaving us with the nagging feeling that we’re wasting something truly precious and unrecoverable.
Your Turn …
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Photo by Eric Kilby