Bored with Being Bored?

Did you know that July is Anti-Boredom Month? Yes, it’s true and that means a month-long celebration of all things non-boring. For me that means less time in front of the computer and more time traveling and on the beach. For you that means some great guest posts by a variety of bloggers!

First up is Jane Matthews with her take on boring. Enjoy!

Riot Jane on flickr.comSo, the school holidays are about to start and with them one of summer’s most familiar sounds: ‘I’m bored!’ (usually heard within moments of the schoolgates slamming shut).

As adults, most of us probably believe we’re strangers to boredom. We may even yearn – as we contemplate the lengthening To Do list – for a few moments of blissful, uninterrupted boredom.

And yet as we lurch from one task to another, one set of responsibilities and demands to another, permanently exhausted, boredom may be precisely what we too are suffering from.

Busy being bored

Let me explain by quoting one of my favourite poets, David Whyte.

In his wonderful audio poetry book Midlife and the Great Unknown Whyte recounts one of the key lightbulb moments of his life, when he was forced to wake up to the relationship between boredom and exhaustion – and the meaning of both.

While Whyte dreamed of being a full-time poet, he earned his living working for a charity, writing only in those few dead moments at the end of another shattering week. One day, as he raced from one save-the-world task to the next, Whyte heard himself call to colleagues “has anyone seen David?” It took a moment for the penny to drop: he was the only David working there. He had literally lost sight of himself.

Shaken, Whyte headed home to seek out a friend, a priest, to share a few hours’ conversation and a glass of wine. That day, their conversation became a confessional, as Whyte asked his friend “tell me about exhaustion”.

The friend replied: “The remedy for exhaustion is not rest. It is wholeheartedness.”

When we are doing what we love, or choosing to love what we do; when our dreams are no longer on hold, postponed until the time we have the money/have the confidence/don’t have to worry about everyone else/write your own excuse …., tiredness will become a stranger.

Wholeheartedness is also the opposite of boredom.

Are you boring you?

So how much of the time do you feel tired, wrung out, drained?

Now, honestly, ask yourself if it’s really exhaustion you’re suffering from, or boredom: are you boring yourself, at work, at home, in your relationships, your habits, and your thoughts?

What is there in your life that you are wholehearted about? In an average day in an average week, how many hours – or moments – are you involved in things that will bring your dreams closer? That represent the kind of life you want for yourself? That you feel passionate about?

Bored to death

One of my lightbulb moments came when I stumbled on this challenge from US sports coach Lou Holtz: “If you are bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.”
Ouch! I couldn’t remember the last time I’d woken up excited at the challenges of the day.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have dreams. I had any number of those. It was that I hadn’t turned my dreams into goals, and committed to taking at least one small action every day to bring those dreams closer.

I was reading lots of motivational books, meditating, visualising, using affirmations, journalling. And then just carrying on in the same old way, turning up at a job I’d long outgrown, being a partner, a parent, and a carer to my own parents in the same way I had been for years, wearing the same hairstyle, having the same conversations, going the same places, as I’d always done.

Boring myself rigid and wondering why I felt so tired all the time and nothing was changing.

It’s no accident that someone coined the expression ‘bored to death’. For when we deny ourselves the chance to live wholeheartedly, can we really claim to be alive?

Beating boredom

Since July is anti-boredom month why not take a hard look at how wholehearted you are right now? Tick each statement that feels true for you.

Ten signs you’re half-hearted about your life:

  1. You can’t remember the last occasion when you were so caught up in doing something you love you totally lost track of time
  2. You often wake up with a feeling of dread or overwhelm
  3. You spend so much of the time on automatic, you wouldn’t be able to answer if I asked you to describe half a dozen sights, sounds, smells and sensations you’ve already experienced today
  4. You no longer have any serious hobbies
  5. You struggle to find the time to stay in touch with important people in your life, even by text or email
  6. You struggle to give yourself time to relax and feel guilty about not being busy
  7. Your own time is usually wasted on ‘empty’ pursuits: watching TV you don’t care about, reading things because you think you should, shopping for clothes you don’t need…
  8. Often it isn’t until something is over that you realise how much you enjoyed it
  9. You can’t wait to get to bed each day
  10. Your dreams seem further away than ever

If you ticked more than three of these statements you’ve all the evidence you need that your heart is on hold: you’re barely even half-hearted about the life you’ve created.

That’s no bad thing: the first and most significant step in making change in any life is first recognising why we need to.

In my next guest blog, we’ll be looking at ways of jolting yourself out of your boredom, to kickstart your journey in the direction of your dreams.

About Jane

Jane Matthews is a writer and workshop leader, running courses in Heal Your Life, Achieve Your Dreams, building self esteem, money and consciousness, and getting more from every day. Her books include titles of making better relationships, and surviving life as a carer. Her latest book is I Think You’re Great: self esteem made easy, available as a download from her website www.smallbooks.co.uk.

P.S. Someday Syndrome was recently named one of the top Life Coaching blogs – check it out!

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13 thoughts on “Bored with Being Bored?

  1. Andy Hayes says:

    Nice one Jane – I ended up on my current “path” out of boredom. Decided to do something interesting for a change as a side hobby, and now it’s my own small business.
    .-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..If You Can’t Go…A List of Travel Alternatives =-.

  2. I think we all definitely have these moments of boredom and sometimes in life, they are more than in other times. But mostly, at least in my experience, it is because we are not doing something we really feel passionate about in any facet of our life, so there’s no motivation to do anything at all. This was a fantastic post – definitely one that I’m going to save if ever I get caught in the boredom spiral again!
    .-= Laura Cococcia´s last blog ..Blogs That Are Changing The World of Words: The Art of Nonconformity =-.

  3. Jane – Great guest post! Being bored is one of my least favorite things EVER and you’ve addressed the topic so well, including some great tips on how to beat boredom. Thanks so much for writing this. Your book sounds great and I’m definitely going to check out your site. 🙂
    .-= Positively Present´s last blog ..5 ways to leave your fingerprints on the world =-.

  4. Oh, this really spoke to me. I often find myself feeling like I’m running on a treadmill, and my instinct is to say that I need a rest or a vacation. But maybe what I need is to commit myself wholeheartedly to my passion for helping creative people get organized. Really great post!

  5. Very good post, so inspiring. I’m glad to wake up everyday to follow my dream and leave this country!, you have to feel the passion or else you’re doing it wrong.
    .-= Dusan Vlahovic´s last blog ..HDR – Antena 01 =-.

  6. Mary says:

    Excellent post – this really resonated with me and my frame of mind right now, and has been very helpful in knocking me over the head and making me face that I’m bored, should turn dreams into goals, and get on with life! Also love “anti-boredom” month. Great concept (though shouldn’t every day be anti-boredom day?).

  7. I always tell my kids they own their boredom…and if they’re really bored, Mom has a perfect broom to make things much exciting (not to mention a kitchen floor too! 🙂 ). That almost always miraculously cures the boredom.
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..Ever wonder what Income Fitness is NOT? Part 1 =-.

  8. […] I’ve been quoting the poet David Whyte a lot this week. Mainly  in a couple of guest blog posts I’ve written for Someday Syndrome (as in someday my prince will come/someday I’ll have the time and money age to go after my dreams). It’s anti-boredom month, apparently, and  as I pondered what to write about in the posts I couldn’t help thinking of Whyte’s lightbulb moment, when he realised he wasn’t exhasuted but bored rigid by his life. You can read the full story here. […]

  9. Alex Fayle says:

    @Andy
    Good for you for finding a healthy way to kill the boredom – I’ve made quite a few um, interesting choices in my life out of boredom. 😉

    @Laura
    For me boredom creeps in when things are taking too long. Not being that patient a person, I find that I need to create mini goals along the way or I get bored and want to quit.

    @Positively Present
    Yay to going off to visit Jane’s site – it’s a great resource!

    @Catherine
    The vacation might be exactly what you need to kickstart the passion – a rest to recharge your batteries.

    @Dusan
    There’s nothing better than getting up in the morning excited for the day. It’s why I’m self-employed.

    @Mary
    Yes every day should be anti-boredom day, but sometimes things like this need to get a month of highlight.

    @Barbara
    LOL! My mother used to say the same thing.

  10. […] mark anti-boredom month, my last guest blog looked at how many of us tend to confuse tiredness with boredom. We think that it’s our lives-on-the-go that are exhausting us. When what’s really […]

  11. […] are busy doing mundane tasks that aren’t stimulating you. Jane Matthews terms it as ’busy being bored‘ which I think is a brilliant way to put […]

  12. Michael says:

    Load of crap, we dont always know what we want to do, or have the solvency to do it.

  13. Michael says:

    People who write books like this are trading on people misery.

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