Making the Best of Boredom

Dear E & V,

Your life is defined as much as what you do as what you do when there is nothing to do. Boredom can be demotivating and energy-sapping, or it can be the path to a rich and rewarding life…

My life has been defined by the itch to always be doing — anything else is boring. Often times you’ll get to a point in your own life where something blocks your doing.

Sometimes it’s internal (TV addiction), sometimes it’s external (lack of money).

Sometimes that block is worthwhile and only requires time or creative thinking to overcome (having children).

Other times that block is unwanted and requires significant internal and external resources to overcome (getting out of a soul-crushing job).

The overwhelming itch to do can make you despondent when it feels like it will never be scratched. A popular manifestation of this  is the midlife crisis — though since you apparently start being bored with your job at 35 this crisis seems to hit a bit earlier than midlife.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with this existential crisis:

Unhealthy: have affairs, buy luxury cars, go into debt to furnish a new wardrobe or house, or leave their families and travel the world, etc. 
Healthy: switch jobs, go back to school, take up a new hobby, or quit working 50 hours weeks to spend more time with their kids, etc. 

Either way you’ll have to find some way to deal. Hopefully you’ll cope in a healthy way and leave yourself and those around you better people because of it.

Boredom — no matter what the magnitude — can be an activity for great personal growth if harnessed correctly. They key is not to force resolution.

Dabble in different healthy activities and see what makes you happy. Maybe reigniting your high school soccer career at 32 won’t solve your life crisis, but taking a cooking class will.

Have fun with the experimentation of trying different things — in solving your boredom the journey is what makes the resolution. But don’t be afraid to stop something you don’t think will work (or will take you down an unhealthy path). Don’t try to force your happiness by throwing money at the problem with new gadgets or new looks.

If you’re struggling to figure out which activities will take you in a healthy direction and which will end up with your life down a darker path, I recommend this (very paraphrased) advice from Friedrich Nietzsche:

Live your life like it will only be lived once, and live it like it’s your own work of art. 




Ken View All →

I am a Father, Husband, Cowboy Philosopher, Volunteer Firefighter, and Professional Dilettante. I am nothing and I am everything. But when it comes to our relationship: I only wish you wonder and happiness.

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