It’s said to be one of the chief things in why teenagers get up to mischief is boredom; that, and too much money. Boredom is ironically ever-present, even in our busy world, and it’s a surprisingly innocuous but destructive force. It not only happens when there’s little or nothing to do, but it happens also when we’re disinterested in what’s on offer.
Boredom can be attributed to many of society’s ills including depression, learned helplessness (hopelessness), and is often the antecedent to drug experimentation and use, and other addictions, including gambling.
Boredom is often told to be attributed to our own vanity, “… for if life, in the desire for which our essence and existence consists, possessed in itself a positive value and real content, there would be no such thing as boredom: mere existence would fulfill and satisfy us. “ When we’re honest, our lives often lack the substance of positive value and real content, but only because we get lazy, and do not resist it, and fail to invest in thinking and thinking. To be sure, our lives are a task, and beating boredom is part of the purpose of life, from one perspective – the negative pole. The opposite extreme can be demonstrated easily. Simply look at any of the vast numbers of achievements in human history. There is a purpose to the life beyond beating boredom.
What an irony it is; we’ll do anything to avoid boredom, even do things that we do not enjoy just so we do not have to enter into it. At some levels, we’re afraid of it. It’s like we’ll have to face our real selves or our real fears if we get, and stay, bored. This is why we eat when we’re bored – we do it for comfort and so get away from the pain of ourselves and our boredom, and lack of things to do. Others stay busy and do things to beat boredom; it depends on the motive as to whether busyness to this degree is helpful or not.
One of the things that keep us on the spinning wheel of life is resisting boredom. I think it is a secret to life that we must actively resist boredom, whilst simultaneously, not be afraid of being somewhat bored if there is basically nothing to do ie ‘download’ time which needs to happen for us to regenerate our spirits. It requires courage to be appropriately bored (not fearing it) whilst also being diligent to resist it much of the time – although it must be acknowledged, modern life does not afford us the opportunity to become bored very often.
The diligent among us sense an awareness of boredom, note that it’s a danger sign which needs rectification and set out to apply thinking processes to create possibilities, furthering life. They’re also adept at placing themselves in others worlds – finding fresh opportunities to create gratitude and thankfulness. They see the boredom moment as a window of opportunity to invest in their relationships and in themselves, to ponder, to plan, to discover, to reinvigorate (among many other things).
Copyright © 2008, SJ Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
 Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays, and Aphorisms, trans. RJ Hollingdale (Penguin Classics, 2004), p. 53. Essay available online: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/texts/schopenhauer/vanity.pdf
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