“I’m Bored.” – A matter of chance or of failure?
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how you spend it. Careful, lest others spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg
One of the greatest worries in anyone’s mind centers on money. We all concern ourselves far too much with it, budget it, and try not to be wasteful of it. Yet we’ll often spend our time freely and mindlessly as if it were in unlimited supply when in fact it is the only thing we have that we can never make more of or hope to get back.
I have a policy of never uttering those words because it implies that I am allowing my activities and the course of my life to be controlled by an outside factor. “I’m bored” really means “I’m not creative or self-motivated enough to make sufficient use of my time.” It’s a statement of personal failure, not of chance. It means that the scant hours we’re each allotted are ticking away while nothing is being done with them.
It’s not to say that I never feel bored, or never feel myself slipping into that state of mind, but when I do, it generally serves as an alarm. Realizing that those words are drifting into my consciousness feels not unlike that sudden “I’m falling” sensation that you sometimes get when drifting off to sleep.
A long time ago someone told me a story about spare moments. It outlined the lives of several people who had used the extra minutes in their days to build towards goals or achievements. I can’t remember specific details, but one of the men, rather than whiling away his spare time, used it to study languages. By the end of his lifetime he spoke around a dozen of them.
I employ several strategies to follow this idea, and work towards the mindset of an autotelic. For years I have had the habit of carrying a backpack with me. While I was a young Special Programs candidate in the military, I would keep a pair of goggles, shorts, a towel and some post-workout food in it at all times so that I never had an excuse not to go to the pool and work on swimming if I had the time. Now, among other things it always contains a book. At the moment it’s Meditationsby Marcus Aurelius. (One of the best books ever written. I’m on my second read through it.)
I generally spend about twenty minutes reading in between workout groups at the gym. In this way I usually manage to read one or two books per week; not so much by allotting a specific period of time during the day for reading, but by taking advantage of the time that would otherwise pass by unused. A year from now that will equal fifty to one hundred books absorbed using the time that otherwise would have been spent idly rearranging kettlebells.
Think of all the spare moments in your life that slip by each day. What could you be doing, learning, or even just dedicating yourself to thinking about that would get you closer to where you want to be?
Consider boredom in general. What things do you do voluntarily that bore you? Are you dragging yourself to the gym each day slogging through the same uninspired routine? Doesn’t watching CNN on the treadmill give you a neck cramp after a while? You are choosing to do these things, and by choosing to be bored you’re effectively shortchanging the quality of your life.
“All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never ever be boring.” – Chuck Palahniuk