So many destructive behaviours have their origin in boredom. From overeating to excessive drinking, addictions, watching mind-numbing crap on TV or constantly buying ‘stuff’. So why are we all so bored??
Consumption – Affluence’s Boredom Cure
By 2020, 300 million people in China (that’s the same size as the population of the US) will advance from a subsistence farming lifestyle to middle class living. That means there will be 700 MILLION people in China consuming as middle class citizens*. Pretty mind boggling huh?
Can you imagine what this will mean in terms of global resource usage and refuse produced if the world’s newly socially ascended gleefully consume at the ravenous rate of current first world middle class people? To reiterate, that’s America’s population, more than two times over, set to consume, consume, consume. S*%&T!!
Boredom Is Digging Us A Hole We Might Struggle To Get Out Of
It seems that dissatisfaction with our present reality is the main excuse we use for ‘distracting’ and ‘improving’ behaviours like consumption. We say we consume because we ‘need’ stuff, but actually, consuming is just a way to distract ourselves momentarily from our present reality.
We think our lives will be better once we have what we desire (whatever the latest thing is). We think it will make us happy. Or happier than we already are. Actually, when you live in a more minimalist fashion for a while, you see how little of what we use is necessary and how much of our consumption is purely and simply a way to alleviate our boredom.
As an example, I had a recent garage sale and I culled half my wardrobe to sell – it’s been a few weeks now and not once have I missed an item of clothing (despite my prior protestations, “But I can’t sell them. I wear them all – I NEED them.”) I thought I’d get bored with so little choice. I was wrong. Instead, I just love all the extra wardrobe space!
So What Is Boredom? And How Can You Overcome It?
- Boredom is the need for something “exciting” to happen.
- Boredom is the desire for drama.
- Boredom is the choice of instant gratification, over long term well-being.
- Boredom is the choice of pleasure rather than peace, (because peace is perceived as “boring”).
- Boredom is the need to DO something to feel happiness, rather than simply BEING happy.
- Boredom is the inability to accept life for what it is, in this very moment.
- Boredom is the inability to see the beauty of the world, as it is right now.
- Boredom is the faulty judgemental perspective that something is “wrong” with existence.
- Boredom is the absence of acceptance.
When you look at modern life, so much of it is centered around the refusal to accept things how they are and an insistence on changing our state to something else – something ‘better’. Sure, sometimes the desire to change the way things are might be for the betterment of mankind (such as seeking to eliminate diseases) but is getting a flatter TV REALLY going to make that much difference to your long term happiness in the scheme of things?
The website ‘Truths of Life’ says, “Boredom is the false notion that happiness lies outside oneself. It’s born from the unawareness that happiness can simply be chosen at all moments of life, despite life’s circumstances.”
I know that ‘choosing happiness’ can be tough for even the most self-aware of us and sometimes people view that as a bit of a ‘cop out’ of an answer to life’s more problematic esoteric challenges. So I won’t go there.
Instead, I’d suggest at least the practice of awareness of boredom and an examination of its particular cause for you. Saying ‘I’m bored, because this is boring’ isn’t a proper examination by the way! Look at what it is in your environment that you’re REALLY having problems with. Are you lonely? Are you feeling undervalued? Are you criticising yourself or your situation? Then look to how you can address these issues.
Boredom can be a great signpost towards growth if we spend less time trying to escape it and accept discomfort for a while, sit with it and look at it a little more closely. Not everyone’s idea of a great Saturday night in, I know, but hugely helpful in eradicating stress and anxiety (in the long term) in your life.
Boredom can’t ever really be escaped. It can only be let go of through awareness.
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