Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful, or to discover something that is true. ~William Inge
According to merriam-webster.com, boredom (n) is “the state of being weary or restless through lack of interest.” Whew! This is definitely a state I do not inhabit. I may live parts of my life in the fifty-first state of confusion, and I may be weary and tired to the bone, but I am never a resident of the state of boredom.
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone else say he or she is bored, I would be a wealthy woman. Supposedly, according to one recent study I found online, one in three students in school is bored either from lack of teacher interaction or uninteresting subject matter. Really? Whatever happened to intellectual curiosity?
Evidently boredom is a problem in the workplace, too. Check these facts from an article by Sandi Mann in the The Psychologist, published by the Britist Psycological Society:
- Nearly 45 per cent of hiring experts in a 1998 survey said firms lost top workers because they were bored with their jobs (Steinauer, 1999).
- A third of Britons claim to be bored at work for most of the day (DDI survey ‘Faking It’, 2004); in the financial services, half were often or always bored at work.
- Boredom has been found to be the second most commonly suppressed emotion at work (Mann, 1999).
- 55 per cent of all US employees were found to be ‘not engaged’ in their work in a recent survey reported in the Washington Post (10 August 2005).
- 24 per cent of office employees surveyed by Office Angels claimed that boredom caused them to rethink their career and look for alternative jobs (reported in The Guardian, 20 January 2003).
- 28 per cent of graduates claimed to be bored with their job in a survey by the Teacher Training Agency (tinyurl.com/ltn6e).
There is much research–and speculation–about why boredom is on the rise. Are we, as a society, amusing ourselves to death (see Neil Postman’s work by the same name)? Are we overly stimulated by technology and the pace at which we live and move? Does it have to do with our ability to produce dopamine in the brain? I don’t know.
What I do know is this: I am a naturally curious person, and I am content. Because I am content, I can entertain myself by reading a book, taking a walk, writing a poem (or blog entry), or interacting with family and friends. Finding joy in the ordinary is not a problem. Because I am curious by nature, I can usually find something worth investigating, watching, reading, or studying. I am also finally comfortable simply “being.” Age, spiritual health, and creativity probably have something to do with keeping me from being “bored,” but life itself is simply so precious and amazing that I want to participate in it fully. This is why I am NOT bored.
Perhaps as a culture we are losing something through excessive emphasis on consumption and passive entertainment. I can remember when my girls were little, their favorite toys were pulled out of kitchen drawers and cabinets. I could buy them the latest doll or trinket, and they might play with it for a little bit, but give them crayons, paper, costumes, or wooden spoons and plastic bowls, and they could entertain themselves for hours.
I think William Inge was right on target with his words posted above. Seeking truth and creating something of beauty are fine antidotes to boredom. Want to be a good steward of your time, talents, and resources? Avoid boredom at all costs. Fall in love with life and the One who created it. Take part in the healing of the world by seeking truth and creating something beautiful. Most of all, have fun, laugh, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Finally, just ban all forms of the word “bore” from your vocabularly!
Lent 40/40/40 Update
Today I am thankful for Paul Roland. This thoughtful man was a huge positive influence in my life as a teen. He always had a kind word for me, kept up with my track and field progress, and let me know that he and his spouse, Fran, were praying for me. He probably doesn’t realize that after all these years, his simple acts of kindness and Christian witness had an impact on me that extends to this day. Thank you, Mr. Roland.
I gave my daughter my favorite sundress to use as a costume for the play. Whether I get it back matters not. There will be other sundresses, but there’s only one more high school musical. Break a leg, dear daughter! I’m proud of you.
I am thankful that my life is so full and rich that I never have to worry about being bored. Life is good! I am thankful to be here.