The following is another guest post by Jane Matthews.
To 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 wearing us out is the effort of keeping ourselves going in lives we no longer really believe in.
We’re boring ourselves.
The remedy for exhaustion brought on by boredom, as the poet David Whyte says, is not rest but wholeheartedness. Following our passions, chasing our dreams and believing in our own potential for happiness and fulfilment.
But when boredom has become a lifelong habit – not only in our working lives, our homes, relationships and spare time but in our minds: our limited expectations (which we call being ‘realistic’), the way we have the same thoughts over and over again – how do we find the strength, the courage, the energy and yes, even the time, to shift it?
‘Life-changing’ is a claim we hear so often – especially from the stars of reality TV programmes – but the truth is that for most of us, genuine profound and lasting change is more likely to be an incremental process. We embark on a programme of review, exploration, personal growth and one day, a year or two down the line, we’re looking at the notes we made in an old journal and it sinks in : life has changed beyond all recognition and it wasn’t even painful.
So in that spirit of taking one small step after another until we get where we want to go, here are some small ways in which you can shake yourself up, shift that boredom cloud, and remind yourself how many possibilities are out there, just waiting for you to look up from your life…
Energy gains and energy drains
“Anything or anyone who does not bring you alive is too small for you.” from Sweet Darkness by David Whyte.
We’re back to David Whyte again for more wisdom on lives worth living. Grab a notepad and draw two columns. In the first, write down all the things, the responsibilities and the people that sap your energy. In the second, the things that bring you alive; that absorb you to the extent that you lose track of time.
Be honest. No-one has to see this. You’re allowed to admit you hate your well-paid job or you find playing with the children mind-numbing at times.
Do a mental audit of how much time in every week each column represents. And work out what you need to do less of and more of in order to bring them into better balance.
Win the lottery
I can’t give you the winning numbers, I’m afraid. But maybe, just possibly, you don’t actually need them.
Working out what we’d do if we suddenly won a massive amount of money can reveal a great deal about what’s missing in our lives and what it is we seek. The chances are your list will include a whole lot of ‘stuff’. But what lies behind the powerboat and the round-the-world-trip and the time-off-to-write-a-book? Is it adventure you’re after, or creative fulfilment, or a more authentic life?
And once you know that, what’s stopping you from seeking out those things in other ways now? I ask that question as someone whose lottery list included an item on leaving the marriage that I’d outgrown almost before the reception was over. It was salutary to realise that I was using lack of funds as an excuse for what was really stopping me: fear of being alone and of admitting I’d failed at something.
Ring the changes
This is one of my favourite ways of jolting myself out of automatic – though it can be a little alarming for those you live with.
By making lots of small, safe changes in your daily life you’re sending your inner self a powerful message that you’re ready and willing to consider bigger changes. For instance, start by sleeping on the other side of the bed from your usual spot. Choose a different chair at the dining table, a different route on your way to work, match two colours you’d never normally wear together, buy a fruit you’ve never tried before when you next go food shopping, you get the idea.
And once you get used to the idea that it’s OK to feel a little uncomfortable, you might even have fun experimenting with change.
If our minds, bodies and spirits are intrinsically connected, then what effect does dragging around all the detritus of life have on us? You know the stuff I mean: a bootload of things you never brought in after your last day out; kitchen cupboards, some of whose contents are five or more years past their use by date; hundreds of old files on your computer you’ve never got around to deleting.
That computer is a good example of the effect all this baggage has on us, as surely as all those downloads slow your processor to snail’s pace. So choose something to overhaul, and see what effect the clearout has on your own energy. I guarantee it will free up a little, that you can then put to much better use – on something you’re passionate about.
Jane Matthews is a writer, whose next book, The Best Year of Your Life, on how small changes can make a big difference will be published in 2010. She also runs personal development workshops in self esteem and Heal Your Life, Achieve Your Dreams. For details of these, and her other books, see www.smallbooks.co.uk. Check out her blog at http://someonenicer.wordpress.com. Or follow her on twitter @janematthews