Rules For Life – Beyond Boredom
Welcome back to my continuing series of Rules For Life.
When I was a boy, I was highly susceptible to boredom. My eyes would gloss over at the drop of a hat. In fact, haberdashery or not, I found the world to be an eminently boring place. That is, at least, until a certain teacher woke me up.
His name was John Soto and I still remember that day he kept me after class in my freshman year of high school. He asked, “What the heck’s wrong with you?” and I (being a teenager) said something like, “I dunno. Guess I’m just bored.”
By his reaction, you would have thought I’d insulted his mother. “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again,” came his stern reprimand. “You have absolutely no reason to be bored. Don’t you realize how little time you have on this planet? How dare you waste it being bored!”
I didn’t know what to make of his response. I really saw nothing wrong with my answer and, after all, if I wanted to be bored who was I hurting?
It’s as good a question today as it was then and a perfect fit, I think, in Rules For Life.
Schopenhauer once said that the two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom. If we’re looking for a way to lead a more meaningful and fulfilling life, happiness is not a bad way to go, which means we should eliminate anything impeding our happiness, which means we should eliminate boredom. Eliminating pain is another issue for another time.
But eliminating boredom is simple. It’s simple because, just as John Soto said, we have limited time on this planet and any moment spent bored is a waste of that time. Who do we hurt by indulging in boredom? We hurt ourselves, that’s who we hurt.
But let’s stop for a moment and just clarify what exactly we mean by “boredom.” After all, boredom isn’t the same as relaxation. It’s not the same as vegging out, kicking your feet up and engaging in some blissful downtime. Merriam Webster defines boredom as the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.
Lack of interest. That means that boredom isn’t just having nothing to do, it is active disinterest. Children are well suited to this, mostly because they aren’t aware of their potential and look to others to set the rules, and many children outgrow boredom but that doesn’t mean that boredom afflicts only children. Far too often, adults succumb to boredom and the results are downright sad.
When was the last time you encountered a bored adult? Was it an employee at the store looking open-mouthed at the task of putting your purchases in a bag? Or did you see someone at your office staring out the window with a glazed look on their face. You might have seen bored employees at a restaurant avoiding work or, worse, bored people shoveling food in their mouths instead of actively taking enjoyment in their meal.
And that’s the problem with boredom. Lack of interest means lack of interest in life! How sad it is to see anyone lose interest in their job or their meal – in their life. And that is how boredom stands in the way of happiness. Our lives are so short, we should never engage in any activity that puts a wall of boredom between us and a happy life, not our jobs, not our relationships – nothing!
If you’re someone who suffers from boredom, just consider the happiness you are withholding from yourself by not tearing down that wall. You should use boredom as a warning sign, a way of knowing that you’ve taken the wrong path. Happiness lies in another direction and boredom is telling you to stop and go the other way.
Mr. Soto was right. We have no reason to be bored. Our lives hold so much more fulfillment, we shouldn’t let anything boring stand in our way.
About the Author
Author and Playwright, Ken La Salle grew up in Santa Ana, California and has remained in the surrounding area his entire life. He was raised with strong, blue-collar roots, which have given him a progressive and environmentalist view. As a result, you’ll find many of his stories touching those areas both geographically and philosophically. His plays have been seen in theaters across the country and you can find a growing number of books available online. Find out more about Ken on his website at www.kenlasalle.com. Ken La Salle is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency , LLC.