Chapter 12 Equanimity and Peace: Really Understanding the Source of Boredom

 

 

One of the universal causes of Boredom is the notion of “waiting”.  Martin Heidegger noted this as the emotion which emerges when someone is waiting in line, or when someone is waiting for another to finish a project from them, or when someone may be waiting in traffic.  Other philosophers that have researched boredom noted that boredom is a serious serious factor that impacts many different areas of a person’s life.  If a person was LESS PRONE to be bored, they were found to be happier people in general, and performed better in most areas of their lives, including career, family, and education.  What was also found was that boredom could be a source of clinical depression.  Also of learned helplessness found in the Pavlov dog experiments.

 

When you are learning a new skill, a very common cause of boredom is when you lack understanding or if a person is not following what the professor is saying in class.  However, the opposite may also be true.  If the student is so very advanced or has high intelligence, then the classroom material may be boring for him. 

 

It is interesting also that studies have shown that boredom has been studied as being related to drug and gambling issues in people.  The study discovered that gamblers are seeking stimulation to avoid states of depression and boredom.

 

Therefore, it is of paramount importance to understand why a person is bored, and what they should do about it.  Much of what you must realize is that if you are bored, you are feeling empty inside, and you are fed up with the lack of PURPOSEFUL activity and the repetitive situation that you find yourself in. 

 

Boredom has its roots on one of the five causes:  Procrastination, Lack of Useful Energy, Gaps in your Schedule, Environmental Obstactles, and Lack of Motivation.  If you are procrastinating, find out what things you are putting off and finish the task.  If you have a lack of useful energy, find an activity that will use the energy you have in abundance like doing something physically active or creative.  If there are Gaps in Your Schedule, like during a long summer or winter break, simply add more relevant tasks.  If there are Environmental Obstacles like waiting in line, simply wait for the situation to resolve itself.  If there is a Lack of Motivation, address with serious reflection and set new goals and reestablish priorities, desires, and passions. 

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Chapter 11 Equanimity and Peace: Fighting Boredom in all its Guises

 

Boredom is referred to as an emotional state where a person finds themselves with nothing to do, and is not interesting in their surroundings or people.  They don’t feel challenged, and if not addressed can lead to depression.  It can range from being unpleasant to downright painful.  In your work, boredom can be described as a feeling that emerges from engaging in an activity where the person has too much skill and feels he or she is being underutilized. 

 

Modern psychological research states that boredom all involves the issue of “attention”.  When a person is PREVENTED from participating in some desired activity, or when a person is FORCED to participate in an undesired activity, or when a person CANNOT engage in ANY activity, then boredom often arises.  In all instances, boredom tendencies are associated with deficiencies of attention spans.  Also research has shown that a person’s tendency to experience boredom is linked to depression, physical, educational, and social problems.  Therefore, your issues of boredom much be considered with importance.

 

As we discussed boredom is a situation where your own perception of your surroundings feels dull, repetitive, and devoid of stimulation.  Always we will keep in mind that boredom differs from everyone, and say an actor or surfer will find boredom quickly when encountered with accounting software that does a person’s 1040 taxes.  But the “feeling” of boredom is always the same, and it is everyone’s challenge to conquer this feeling when it comes. 

 

Always also be aware that there is an intrinsic ANXIETY in boredom.  This is another reason why boredom is a dangerous emotion.  A person often puts forth a great deal of effort to fix their boredom, including sleeping and daydreaming.  If you anxiety is not addressed, then depression will surely result.  The reason I write that boredom fighting is mostly an internal issue is because of what Blaise Pascal wrote:  “we seek rest in a struggle against obstacles.  But when we have overcome these, rest proves unbearable because of the boredom it produces”.  He latered avered that “only an infine and immutable object—that is God Himself—can fill this infinite abyss.

 

Now, we all know how we described how “God” or own’s inner divine self as experienced, but control one’s feelings of anxiety, depression, and boredom.  Many philospher’s described boredom as a common psychological response to modern industrial society.  Marx also referred to this as the alienation of one’s labor to that which they are doing.  According to a philosopher named Erich Fromm, boredom is “perhaps the most important source of aggression and destruction today.”  For Erich Fromm, the endless and vain search for thrills and novelty that characterizes consumer culture is the very root of boredom.  More consumption is NOT a solution to solve boredom, but only mere temporary distractions  from boredom, which he argues, as I do, which is an unconscious and mental problem to be addressed.

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Chapter 10 Equanimity and Peace: The Spiritual Source of Your Boredom

Chapter 10  Equanimity and Peace:  The Spiritual Source of Your Boredom

If you are really at one with yourself, you cannot be bored.  Boredom arises from the apparent feeling within oneself of the lack of distinct new activities.  The lack of variety also can cause boredom.  But boredom arises inside you, as are all things that involve your emotions.  If you seek after constant variety, all the time, if that is your model, then boredom will closely follow you.  To combat boredom, you must also change what is inside you.  

If you watch too much television or surf the Internet too much, you will gain a rather constant picture of people “always on the go” especially in the West…especially in America.  Everyone in America is frenetically searching for the next thing to occupy their time.  They can never stop.  It is just one thing after another.  After one thing is achieved, they cannot stand still for even a moment.  They become restless and bored.  They search for the next thing to occupy their time.  Much of this comes from their social conditioning to belong to the supersonic American culture around them.  When they see others running around looking for their next “high”, they become part of the culture and seek likewise stimulation.  Television and the Internet moves people to need constant new stimulation, all the time, every time. 

The pursuit of constant excitement also has it perils, but there is no end.  And any search that finds no end is bound to cause frustration and suffering.  It is like a tree that sprouts new leaves all the time.  As soon you pull on the leaves of the tree branches, more leaves sprout further up on the tree.  It never ends, because the cycle of excitement and boredom are never ending until you gain an appropriate balance within yourself.

When a person is comfortable inside themselves, there frequently is no ability to become bored.  It is your relation to the greater society that is the sources of your boredom.  Still, if you so choose to live inside this American society, boredom will come over and over again.  And this must be addressed because your boredom, when steered in the wrong direction, can cause sometimes dangerous and ill fated activities.  Drugs are one such outlet for boredom,  And this very poor choice must be avoided.

Boredom is often seen as the opposite of stimulation, and everyone must look inside themselves to witness, engage, satisfy, and then curtail their need for stimulation.  It must be a gradual stepwise strategy.  Hopefully, after long exercises, you will no longer feel bored for much of the day, and your days will be filled with more equanimity and peace.

Know that the chase after stimulation and arousal often will bring you misery in the long run, until you find just the right balance that fits perfectly within your quiet personality.  Everyone needs some type of engagement, but not too much, and the search for excitement must be curtailed and balanced with your inner life, or you will go on searching forever, and forever be in misery.

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Chapter 9 Addressing Boredom Brings Us Back to Equanimity and Peace

 

We spent some time addressing loneliness and boredom because it is so closely associated with finding lasting equanimity and peace in this life.  As Carl Jung once wrote:

 

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.  It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”

 

A segue into this would be to say that boredom is the opposite side of the coin with inspiration.  A person who is uninspired will certainly be bored, and an inspired person will most certainly NOT be bored (for any length of time).

 

Sai Baba wrote that “Anything that helps you maintain unruffled equanimity is right action.”  The goal of addressing loneliness and boredom is in pursuit of equanimity and peace.  In this book, we continue to address the goals of making people better.  Zones of darkness…like loneliness and boredom, speak to this advocation.

 

Throughout this book, we will continue to examine mental zones in the “dark side” of the mind, and suggest as many strategies to overcome them as is possible given the wisdom learned through the ages.  The pursuit of equanimity is I exhort of prime importance in a person’s motivation, so they are not cast back and forth with the waves of life.

 

Sai Baba also wrote, “Let the waves of memory, the storm of desire, the fire of emotion pass through you without affecting your equanimity.”  There is a dark side to every life, and every positive emotion.  For dark loneliness there is inspirational companionship, for listless boredom there is inspirational excitement.  When the darkness arises, it is of paramount importance to address it quickly before the dikes break and the problem becomes unmanageable.

 

The longer we allow the negative passions to affect us, the longer will be the path to their undoing, and the mitigating of the negative trails they leave on our lives.

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Chapter 8 How to Combat Boredom: Boredom MUST Be Addressed and Placated

 

The reason I wrote so many chapters about boredom with regards to equanimity and peace is that being bored is a serious threat TO achieving equanimity and peace.  Whether it is conscious or unconscious, lounging around on your sofa or bed doing nothing all day, with nothing to motivate you is a dangerous dangerous thing.  Boredom threatens your health, makes you apathetic, listless, tired all the time.  Being bored will probably make you obese and get diseases like Hypertension, Diabetes, and Hypercholestrolism, which would lead to heart attacks.

 

Being bored is actually a hidden cause of stress too, as there is no outlet for your energy.  Being bored can be categorized in many time frames.  The longer the episode of boredom, the more serious the issue is.  Feeling bored for a moment or an hour is not so worrisome, and we have addressed all of these factors, but being bored for long stretches and feeling like there is no purpose or meaning to your life is a very serious threat to your well being and others in your social circle and your family, and your children.

 

I was postulate that many crimes were committed out of boredom which resulted in desperation.  In fact, it is true that many crimes like petty shoplifting is due NOT to the inability to pay but the silent “rush” or “excitement” of stealing something.  Even within relationships such as marriage, unresolved boredom will certainly lead to lost love and adultery.  As Ben Franklin once wrote, “Where there is marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.”

 

Boredom sounds commonplace and non-threatening, but it is in fact a VERY serious problem that burns to the very essence of one’s soul.  Particularly serious is the longer bouts of boredom, which may be closely correlated to depression and even suicide.  As we mentioned, people who are bored are often depressed, and depressed people are usually bored.

 

With our society and culture moving at the speed of light, routines become embedded within our lives, and less and less attention is focused on the healthiness of the soul.  A person must have the energy and focus to address his or her bout of boredom, which if not addressed, will most certainly lead to depression, burnout, and even worse consequences.

 

 

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Chapter 7 Exploring even MORE ways to Combat Boredom

 

As we discussed earlier, in order to solve boredom, look at what people are doing who are not bored and do likewise.  One solution is to attend a comedy show or read a new joke book.  When someone is laughing, there is no room for boredom.  It is like light shining down on darkness.  Laughter is like the sun, and boredom is like the darkness.

 

I have never met or heard of anyone who has not laughed in their lives.  There is no much humor all around us.  I bet if God exists (which I do), then he is laughing joyfully much of the time.  You can visit your local comedy studio, in Chicago we have Second City, or you can read a funny joke book or watch a funny movie or rent a funny comedian that suits your taste.  It will always brighten up your day if you start it or interrupt it with a good hearty laugh.  And that alone will destroy your boredom.

 

Watch and observe little children.  As long as there is no bullying going around, they love to poke and make earnest fun of each other.  Just as they experience, maybe you need a good laugh too.  When you feel bored, try to engage in its opposite…humor.

 

When you are bored, try to do something spontaneous (of course nothing risky or illegal).  As we grow to adults, we are driven into routines that we don’t even realize we are in until we are drowning in boredom.  There are always something new to try, whether it is a new vegan restaurant to eat at, a new hobby to explore, or old passions that have dried up.

 

Relive old passions.  I personally recently rediscovered an old passion in stamp and coin collecting.  As I used one of the aforementioned strategies (cleaning up my attic and basement while bored), I found my old stamp and coin collection.  I instantly was struck by the childhood joys of collecting, and I visited my local coin store, Niles Coin Shop.  There, I found and learned and bought many new coins, many of which had exciting histories and were not expensive.  For example, I learned about the history behind some of the coins.

 

For example, I was fascinated again about old STEEL pennies that the U.S. government used during World War II due to copper shortages.  They cost only about 25 cents today and are a fascinating trip through history.  As a child, I would collect many inexpensive coins and dream and wonder who held them and what was going on during history at the time these coins were minted.

 

What were your own lost childhood passions?  Did you like old memorabilia?  What about comic books?  There is an endless source of boredom busting strategies to be found.  Many of these are found right where you are sitting, in your own past.

 

Create a list of where you will see yourself in 2, 5, 10 and 20 years.  This is an excellent boredom busting strategy that will fill up times of “blah”.  This is not dissimilar to a “bucket list” we spoke of earlier but would also involve a careful reexamination of your life.  This exercise may take an evening or may days across time, and help lift your spirits by giving you concrete goals to aim for.  It will give you hope, and that is paramount to battle ennui and listlessness.  This exercise may also have the unintended effect of making your life better in the longer term, by addressing what needs you may have to engage in to make your future dreams come true.

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Chapter 5 Even MORE Ways to Combat Boredom (Part Three of “Boredom” Series)

Exercise, exercise, and more exercise.  To combat boredom, it is always safe to look at others who are NOT bored at that moment and emulate what they are doing.  Have you ever seen a 10K race where everyone was bored?  Never.  They are running, huffing, puffing, engaged in the moment.  We are all physical bodies in need of movement.  Find all situations and carve out time periods in your day where you can get some exercise.

 

Sporting Events…As we mentioned previously, engaging in sports is a great way to combat boredom.  But what if you can’t or simply do not feel like running, biking, jogging, soccer, volleyball, etc.?  Then go to a stadium and watch a sporting event.  Once again, the rule applies.  Look at people who are NOT bored, and do the same.

 

Did you ever attend a baseball or football game where all the spectators were bored out of their skulls?  Never happens.  The sounds of the crowds, the screaming (and jeering), the umpires yelling, all the energy in the air.  Even the vendors selling hot dogs up and down the aisles.  There is no room for boredom anywhere in the stands.  Do so likewise and attend these “boredom busting” activities.

 

Become a “tourist” within your own town.  It may not be feasible financially to go to Venice right away.  But what about all the wonder in your nearest city?  Did you think about all the art galleries and museums…right in your own backyard?  Most people will drive a thousand miles to visit an art gallery in another city but completely ignore their own gems in their backyard.  For example in Chicago, we have the Art Institute, the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, the Lincoln Park Zoo.  All have free days, and you can get one of those free museum passes at your local Chicago Public Library.  The Lincoln Park Zoo is free all year around.   There is so much to see and wonder and imagine.  You need not look far to find fulfillment.

 

Talk to Strangers.  While it may be awkward to begin a conversation with someone randomly on a busy rush hour subway in the morning, how about a nice conversation with someone at your local grocery store.  There need not be any ulterior motive behind it.  If you are in the fruit and vegetable section, and you see someone buying a certain vegetable or fruit, casually mention to them what they plan on cooking with their new food item.  Mention a recipe of your own.  Take and evaluate a proper and appropriate time to chat with a stranger.  Maybe engage in a conversation at a book store while someone is reading a particular author or subject you are also keen about.  There is so much to learn about others, people…all people have an interesting side.  When the right moment arises, everyone has something they like to talk about.  There is no such thing as boredom in a bright and lively conversation.

 

Watch your local PBS station.  Boredom hits everyone from time to time, you just have to know yourself and what cures it when it happens.  Everyone has their own interests that they would like to explore.  I mentioned much of what passes as network television entertainment is vapid and empty.  But I neglected to mentioned soulful quality enriching television.  Particularly look at your local PBS station.  There are travel shows, cooking shows, documentaries on politics and countries and nature shows.

 

Read or write an interesting book or blog.  They say everyone has a novel inside them.  Explore your inner self and create your own story.  Maybe it is about a children’s book.  I remember one of my favorite books was about Arnold Lobel’s “Frog and Toad” books as a child.  The stories and pictures were so fascinating and enriching…with wonderful tales and words of wisdom.  Even if very few will end up reading it, the very act of creating stories will destroy any boredom which comes your way.  Even this blog is a great example of “boredom busters”.  I myself do get bored from time to time.  But by creating this blog and having many unique visitors, I gain such joy and happiness from my creative writing.  Find your own niche, and start writing away.  Visit other blogsites with similar interests and link back to them.  It can even be considered an interesting hobby.

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