Yes, I know. How can life be good if we’re still wearing masks? When there’s still great racial inequality and discrimination? When we have a climate crisis and a political divide so wide, we can’t even see the other side let alone hear it?
The challenges in the world right now might dissuade you from saying “life is good.”
But I want you to know this: life is good because YOU’RE IN IT, living it, right now. And, it’s impossible to feel your aliveness and be bored at the same time.
BORED, BORED, BORED
No, this is NOT all there is. Were you wondering?
But you’re bored. Bored, bored, bored. Bored at work. Bored at home. Bored in your relationship. Bored with YOU.
Is there a cure for boredom?
As a human being, you’re hardwired toward growth and adaptation. You WANT to learn, explore, and expand. Like your ancestors who forged new frontiers, you want to move forward, achieve, and discover. You’re constantly driven to interact, engage, explore, and transform.
Sometimes this desire for change might be loud and obvious. But sometimes, it manifests itself as a vague sense of dissatisfaction. A subtle nagging that your life as it is not “enough.”
As Psychology Today tells us, this condition is related to the “French ennui, an existential perception of life’s futility—a consequence of unfulfilled aspirations.”*
So perhaps you can thank boredom! You have unfulfilled aspirations that you might not have become aware of otherwise.
Welcome boredom as a warning signal. Recognize it as your mind’s alert system telling you that you’re not finding purpose in what you’re currently doing, so you’d better switch things up. The sooner, the better.
Boredom is like fear: No one likes feeling fear, just as no one likes feeling bored. But both give you crucial information. Fear pushes you away from harm. Boredom pushes you toward meaning.
Maybe it’s time to stop, listen, and learn how to cure boredom for good.
What’s the Point? Purpose
Purpose is the heart of the matter. It’s the “why” behind everything you do, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
Without it, you’ll never find satisfaction, no matter how fun, delicious, or pleasurable what you’re doing is. The moment it’s experienced, watched, ordered, or consumed, you return to the nagging sense of emptiness. Without purpose, you’re stuck in infinite “ennui.”
So then, how do you find it?
“Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself.”
– Soren Kierkegaard
To find your purpose, you must understand yourself. And to do that, you must learn and explore your yearnings—your innermost desires and deep emotional longings of your heart. Perhaps you yearn to love and be loved or to touch and be touched. Perhaps you yearn to matter, to make a difference, to fulfill your purpose on this planet. Perhaps you long to create, connect, or serve.
Yearnings are universal, and they are the key to unlocking the mystery of the uniquely amazing being that is YOU. No one like you has ever existed before now, and no one like you will ever exist after.
Once you begin to believe that and act accordingly, you’ll see boredom backing off as aliveness starts filling up your days.
Is this easy? NO. And learning your longings isn’t a quick fix to boredom. But it’s a sustaining one. A transformative one. And the only one that ultimately matters.
Besides, you’re already familiar with the quick fix—soft addictions. Those seemingly harmless habits that distract you from your boredom long enough to make you think your life is thriving.
Twenty-five more episodes to watch? What a full evening of entertainment! Three new outfits on the way? How fun it will be to wake up and wear each of them! A new full bag of cookies? You deserve it after my long week of work. Zoning out on social media? What a great way to keep “in touch” with all your friends.
Maybe yes, maybe no.
But what’s more likely is what all of these have might have in common: pseudo satisfaction. A temporary high/buzz/thrill that comes and then goes, and before you know it, you’re left once again asking yourself, “Is this all there is?”
What’s a completely-bored-of-boredom human like you to do?
Forget Pseudo. Go for Authentic
The dictionary definition of authenticity is “genuineness; undisputed credibility; one who is worthy of belief.”
The existential philosophers defined authenticity as being true to who you could become, instead of being true to who you are—a view that suggests authenticity is being faithful to yourself internally as opposed to conforming to external ideas or norms.
Here’s MY definition of authenticity: forget what everyone else says and wears, reads, eats, and watches (take THAT social media) and find out what makes YOU tick.
How do you find that kind of sense of authenticity? Like Dorothy in Oz, you need to discover the answer has been inside of you all along. As you explore yourself and get to know yourself better, you’ll start to see glimpses and signs of who you really are. You begin “engaging.”
“It is the moment-by-moment practice of engaging that helps you become more spontaneous and more present in each moment. You step outside your comfort zone, try new things, take risks, and turn your life from a routine into an adventure…
…Just as emotions help us sense what we yearn for, they are the litmus test for full engagement. We feel an experience deeply when we’re fully engaged in it. So, when we ask if you’re engaged, we’re asking if you’re involved in a given activity with your heart, mind and soul. We’re asking if you are so intimately connected to a given task that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself to get it done right. We’re asking if you’re taking risks and stretching yourself in ways that might feel uncomfortable but also provide you with such a spark that you feel as if you could set the world on fire with a touch of your hand.
—Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living
Enter whatever you’re doing, intending to be involved heart, mind, and soul. Then you can connect with truly being alive. Once you do that, you may never be bored again.
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.