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the dry rot of boredom

I like Fred Smith's advice on how to live life.  Here he writes on dealing with boredom.

Boredom is the dry rot of our souls. It is a sure sign of poor self-management.   It comes when we feel what we’re doing isn’t worth the time, isn’t interesting, or isn’t challenging enough.  Boredom can be the result of living too efficiently and less effectively.  When our life becomes a series of habits and routines, our creative juices dry up.

Oftentimes I hear my grandchildren say, “I’m bored.”  My response is always the question, “So, what are you going to do about it?”  We must learn early on that the cure for boredom is our responsibility, not the job for others. We live in an entertainment culture.  We too quickly cry “foul” if the TV screen goes blank for a few seconds.

A prolonged stay in boredom allows us to fall into pseudo-sophistication, grow melancholy, or adapt a lifestyle of ennui.  If we stay there too long, we lose the ability to pull ourselves out of the quagmire by our emotional bootstraps.

Here are three steps I recommend for the release from the bondage of boredom:

1) Break up the repetitions of life.  Sometimes the simplest change will help because it activates our engagement and takes us out of the “life on autopilot” thinking.  When I was speaking constantly and I found a talk becoming rote and routine --- bordering on boring---- I rearranged the points to increase my interest and concentration.  Routine is necessary for efficiency, but that cannot be the highest priority. Effective living requires more juice.

2) Add something good to your life.  Start a new activity, take up a new hobby, see old things in new ways, open up new friendships, or do something special for someone each day.  As my body becomes less cooperative, I have to think of mental activities.  When I could still get “out and about” I thought about enrolling in courses, signing up for a foreign film series, attending musical or athletic events.  But most importantly, do good for yourself and others.  Remember:  the more bored you are, the less energy you will have to begin the process, but just start.  And the more interested you are, the more interesting you will become - to yourself and those around you.

3) Take something out of your life.  We all have junk that needs to go…things we needlessly carry around.  The first on my list is the sedentary life.  Wasted calories are another good candidate for jettisoning.

Understanding the difference between rest, relaxation, and goofing off can be helpful in this exercise.  Do an audit of your lifestyle and ditch the stuff that drags you down.  Make room for the good.  I fondly remember Naples, Italy, on New Year’s Eve .  Traditionally, the citizens stand in the window and hurl all unneeded items to the ground ---- rather a shocking experience .  But a tremendous illustration.  That’ll preach.

This week think about:  1) What should I sell in my mental garage sale? 2) How can I do intentional good? 3) When do I find myself fighting boredom?

Words of Wisdom:  “Boredom is the dry rot of our soul.”

Wisdom from the Word: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10a  NET Bible)


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