Boredom: Whose Fault Is It?

In my blog, I typically try not to be critical of things I see in other peoples lives. I have enough things in my own life that need fixing so I try not to focus on that. I was reminded of this recently, however and decided to write about it. Before I delve into this subject, let me say that I mean no offense to anyone who struggles with this issue.

We all have different experiences in life and struggle with different things. Because of how I’m put together and because of people who influenced me, I happen not to struggle with boredom much. This blog is a pretty honest reflection of my thoughts so try not to let it bother you if it gets a little blunt. Following are some of my scattered thoughts on boredom.

I was reminded recently how bothered I am when I hear people say they are bored. Actually it drives me crazy when it happens frequently.

The reason chronic boredom in other people bothers me, is mostly because of what it implies about a bored person’s perspective of life. Life is an amazing gift, and when we can’t enjoy it for what it is, I’m guessing it looks ungrateful to the Giver of Life. God has given every human being so much reason for thanks, that, if we spent all our lives thanking Him, we still wouldn’t have given Him enough thanks for what He’s given us. Granted, some people might have to look harder to find things for which they can be thankful, but life is a rich experience.

Part of the reason I think we forget this is something that’s not any one person’s fault. Societal influence tells us daily, “Your happiness hinges on the ownership of things.” It’s a daily battle to fight against this monster, because it pops up in so many forms and shows up all over the place. The crazy thing is, often the stuff we equate with life is really not life at all. But it often seems that way because they have built these gigantic empires around us to distract us from what life really is.

With that, America has fashioned a society where we constantly receive the offer to have things done for us. It makes our lives easy. This is handy, but eventually, it starts affecting things it shouldn’t: things like our creativity.

For example, society has played a dirty trick and persuaded many that other people are more capable of entertaining you than you are, so, if you are willing to part with some of your money, we can do that for you. “Don’t use your own imagination and creativity to come up with your own activities . That would take too much work. Allow this video game to do the creating and imagining for you. You don’t have enough energy to process what’s in that book; just watch the movie instead.”

I don’t think any of those things are inherently wrong, but it’s become a problem, because many people are dependent on those very things to provide them with entertainment. When they don’t have them, they become bored because they can’t think of anything to do on their own. It’s especially difficult for people that have spent most of their lives being entertained by other people’s creativity instead of their own. This business of coming up with your own ideas to have fun is a foreign concept to them.

It’s a real ouch, because a lot of people are stuck with forms of entertainment that won’t ever alleviate their boredom. The reason it’s boring and unfulfilling is the fact that other people are doing the work for you. Eventually, it’s difficult to feel fulfilled when your only entertainment is a product of other people’s creativity, instead of your own. People who grow up in such an environment fail to see an alternative because they know nothing else.

If this is your experience, don’t get frustrated. A lot of people struggle with it and I won’t even start to pretend I’m devoid of that struggle myself. It is painfully simple to let it happen.

Possibly the best way to combat it is to make deliberate efforts to do things that require your own creativity. It will probably fairly difficult at first if you’ve never done much of it, but almost no one becomes skilled at stuff without trying. Don’t either compare your creativity to other people’s. Unless you’re making a job out of it, that’s not really the point. Concentrate on enjoying the “creative part” of being made in the image of the Creator.

Another reason I don’t like boredom is because it often implies, that, unless something big, amazing, and shiny is going on, I can’t have fun or enjoy life. This mentality drives me crazy. Life is far too short, too beautiful a gift to waste wishing it were something else. Sure, some really ugly stuff came with the fall of man, but that gives no one a good excuse to view life as a drudgery.

Think of an hourglass and the sand falling through the center, passing from “time left” to “time spent.” How many grains of sand have you spent, sitting around feeling cheated that other people’s lives seem more exciting than yours? Please don’t do that to yourself. Believe it or not, the more time you spend doing that, the more your life will seem that way.

It’s funny but I have spent some really enjoyable time doing some really simple, and seemingly weird, things with my friends. I look back and say to myself, “Did we really spend three hours doing that?” Some of my best memories with my friends come from times when we couldn’t find much to do so we just made something up. It was that simple.

This is another area of life that has been affected by American consumerism. It’s pretty easy to forget about the “simple” things in life that make it so beautiful–things that money can’t buy: a good conversation with an encouraging friend, laughter, a pick-up game of basketball with the brothers, family, a beautiful song, sunshine, a rainy day, an encouraging verse in the Bible, not to mention a relationship with Jesus Himself . . .

I could write a whole post about this stuff: about seeing the beauty in the seemingly simple, the everyday things of life. The point is, a lot of little things, make up the beauty of life and if we find life boring and worthless, it’s not God’s fault for making it the wrong way. It’s our fault for not seeing it the right way. God doesn’t make mistakes.

I’ve also sometimes struggled with the idea that certain people are boring and I will be bored if I spend time with them. Take the time to view each person as a unique creation of God; to look at the subtle, and not so subtle characteristics that make them an individual and not just another person; to listen to the story of his or her life. You will find it difficult to be bored by their presence. Be willing to become part of their story and to allow their lives to become part of your own.

Obviously, because of our different personalities, most people find it easier to mesh with certain types of people than others. That fact, however, gives us no excuse to view some people as being worth our energy and others not worth it.

I think the experiences we have in life are a lot what we make them. True, life throws “boring” circumstances at us, over which we have no control, but it is what we do, and the attitude with which we approach those circumstances that largely determine our experience. God has provided for us, the stuff of interesting stories. It is up to us what we do with those elements as to whether our stories are interesting or boring.

To answer the question in the title, if life is boring, it is my own fault. Life is interesting and if I don’t see it that way, life is not wrong; my perspective is. The great thing about perspective, is that it can be adjusted. Here are some things that could help:

Notice the intricacies of life and how they fit together tomake up the human experience.

Be awed by God the Creator and what part you play in the history of man kind. No one else can play that part for you, so play it well.

Do something simple, but crazy with your friends. (good craziness of course)

Finally, life is for living. Don’t be a spectator. Be a participant.

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3 comments on “Boredom: Whose Fault Is It?

  1. Andrew says:

    Great post. I think that Satan loves it when believers get bored when we could instead be doing something that builds the Kingdom, glorifies Christ, and brings other people to the Father.
    I would also like to submit that believers (including me) sometimes use busyness as an excuse for not sharing the Gospel. In my opinion, neither extreme is healthy.
    Thank you for the good thoughts!
    Oh, and keep up the writing. I really enjoy reading what you have to say about stuff!

  2. Linda Miller says:

    Good stuff!! My son regularly says, “what can I do? I’m bored!” How can I develop in him the beauty of life w/out always “doing”? I realize he is an active 6 yr. old and needs activity, but i would also like to start developing habits of contentment and a mind that thinks up “things” to do to aleviate boredom. I agree that different personalities view life differently, but God created all people to praise and see Him in everything. It is a lie from the devil to believe that our circumstances are unique and therefore we deserve to whine. Life really is a gift!

  3. I listed “people who complain about being bored” as my pet peeve in one of the Pilgrim Perspective profile teacher features–a lot of years ago. I’m with you on this one, but I’ve never stopped to spell it out in as much detail as you did. Good thinking.

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