Lijit Audience Analytics

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Boredom: A Crucial Signal Of Poor Work-Life Balance

I motion to abolish the phrase "I am bored"!
(How's that for an opening sentence?)

I remember growing up as a kid in a middle class family.  We weren't poor, but we certainly weren't rich.  Every time a new toy came out, we had to settle for a cheap alternative, wait for a sale, ask around for hand-me-downs..  or find a way to build it ourselves (YAY construction paper, glue, empty boxes, and building blocks).

Fortunately, I was pretty mature in my young, tender years.  I understood that my parents were struggling paying for private school and the exorbitant costs of living in New York City.  As such, I tried not to make a big stink about not having all the cool things my classmates had.  I tried to be grateful for whatever I had (it wasn't always easy since kids tend to think there is some magical money tree out there.. and I still can't find it - DARN).  Better yet...
It taught me how to use my imagination.
Truly, I feel blessed.  Nowadays, I find great joy and contentment in the simplest of things.  I do not take anything for granted like I sometimes did in my more innocent, naive years.  I try to make the best out of here and now, though I do plan ahead too.

But I worry about today's youth because they are always "bored"...

I am bored - WAAAAHHH!

In today's culture of instant gratification and abridged communication, it feels like most kids, especially those of Generation G, only appreciate video games, text messaging, pointless videos, and funny photos.  YouTube, Facebook, and Tumblr are reaping the benefits here but the rest of us have to deal with a vast generation gap (and the disconnect in values thereof).

Sure, I'll always be a kid at heart so I can appreciate a lot of the very same things my kids do but I also feel bad because they're missing out on so much.  There's so much frivolous behavior and desensitization going on today.  It doesn't help that kids go to school and get exposed to more bad examples.  We have to work double time to offset the negative programming!

What the heck is going on, anyway?  Is this what our parents nagged about when they spoke about "the gool 'ol days"?

Boredom Is A Product Of Your Mind 
When I hear "I am bored out of my mind", I cry inside.  Sometimes, I even want to bludgeon my ears with a big 'ol soup spoon.  Just saying.

To me, being constantly "bored" is indicative of a person who does not have a good balance in their life.  There's a void in there being filled with mere things, instead of sustenance for the heart, mind, and soul.  Usually, I'd hear whining about being bored from the younger folks but, once in a while, I hear it from "mature audiences". 
Being bored, thus, equates a poor work-life balance.
The disarray in so many lives may very well start there.  Boredom could be laziness, lack of ambition, or worse..  That reality saddens me deeply..  But we can fix that together!

Now, perhaps I am biased because I do not have the luxury of boredom (or sufficient downtime, at that).  I keep myself busy with hobbies, projects, chores, and work.  I try my darnedest to make everything flow together and carve out time for high-priority items and the ubiquitous quality time.  Here's what I discovered: 
There's always something to do.  (No, really, it's true!)
Anyone that consistently experiences boredom has to search within themselves, do a little introspection...  Are they bored because "there's nothing to do" or because they don't want to do anything worthwhile?  Boredom is produced by YOU, not your circumstances.  Think about that as you read on...

The Changing Spirit Of The Youth
What I see is a decline in our culture (at least from my perspective), whereas things like reading a good book, crafting stuff, drawing, or just enjoying some fun in the sun are taken for granted.  I don't even have a problem with the "high-tech movement" since I make a living thanks to it (and I'm a huge technophile), but even the type of toys and video games kids play with today are so...  Different.

If you go back even five to six years, some of today's youth and habits are quite perturbing...
  • 8-year-olds with touch-screen cell phones.
  • 5-year-olds playing violent, gory video games.
  • 10-year-olds talking about sexual stuff on Facebook.
  • 12-year-olds with babies. 
YIKES!  This is a scary time to be a parent.  I mean, today's "normal" is yesteryear's abnormal.  It all goes back to lazy autopilot parents and sheer neglect.  Let's look at what us "grown folk" are doing wrong in our lives because, really, we set the example for our youth and it's time to face the proverbial music!

(As for our youth, we need to help them find things to do when they are stuck in the country and/or have no electricity. *GASP*  What then??  Perhaps some kids would implode at this point.)

Being Productive And Having Direction In Life
One thing I tried to instill in all my loved ones is living a purpose-focused, principle-driven life.  That is, in essence, what we focus on here on this work-life balance blog.  Live a practical life and be more fulfilled.  Here are a few pointers from truly successful, happy people (folks that are smarter than I)...
  • Don't try to live beyond your means.
  • Be content, if not satisfied.
  • Always strive to learn and try new things.
  • Show those around you that you appreciate them.
  • Help others with your gifts and talents 
  • Promote yourself by being attractive.
I'd like to speak to the matter of being attractive because I'm not talking about good looks.  What I'm saying here is that we should all work towards being the sort of people that inspire others and lead by example, rather than indulging in fleeting moments of self-gratification and focusing on self-serving things.  Let's not forget that healthy self-promotion positions us to appreciate a whole lot more in life, while helping others do the same!

Once we can fully rearrange our attitudes, we'll find that those moments of boredom are no more: there's more stuff to do and we're getting more stuff done.  I know that if more people, young, old, and somewhere in between, took the time out to focus on personal development, there would be much more happy people out there living lives full of great joy and accomplishment.

Boredom As An Opportunity 
Now, it's not all bad news.  We have articles, like this one about "Banning Boredom" on Plenty Of Picnics, which make light of what, really, is a rather tragic situation.  The image they provide in that article is simply brilliant.  It goes to show that there is always something to do with our free time. 
We old folks can teach the youngins quite a bit but the change we want to see in the world has to start with us
I look at "boredom" as an opportunity to bring about great change.  If you have that free time at your disposal, take advantage of it.  Make your mark by doing things that build value for you and others around you...  Or at least get a hobby!

Money is not necessary to be productive, fulfilled, or entertained.  There's always some place to start.  For example, I see empty libraries and a world waiting to be explored.  Did you know that libraries often allow you to hold meetings and workshops for FREE?  Think about all the things you can teach and learn there, while meeting other people and making warm connections!

Whatever you believe in, maybe boredom is a higher power telling you, "It's time for something better, something different."  I'd like to think it's God speaking to us or at least our inner self..  or a cartoon cricket?  Regardless, the problem is sometimes we hear that call beckoning us but we try to fill our lives with the wrong things.

I strongly believe we all have a calling.  There's at least one thing out there that makes us feel whole and enriches our lives.  Finding that can be a life-long journey for some.  Explore a bit and see what you find...

Really, I can go on and on about boredom and how to fight it.  An idle mind is the devil's playground and all that good rubbish.  There are so many implications here.  We'll certainly have to discuss boredom and the adjacent topics thereof together.  This is important stuff, folks.  Expect some follow-up articles - we'll need your feedback, so don't be shy, please!

Some Homework For You
Change takes persistent action and a deliberate direction.  Of course, before you embark on any journey, you have to get yourself a good road map.  This is why we try to recommend at least one  personal development book every month - but here are three for you to check out!

Now, I have not read these books (at least not in their entirety), but they each have a wonderful premise that really build upon what I am saying here.  The Secrets of Happy Families is probably a good place to start and, for the price of a venti Starbuck's (Insert Flavor Here), you can get yourself a copy.  WOOHOO!

If you read these books, please comment and let us know what you think - we'd love to know what reading material to recommend to my loved ones next (books make amazing gifts, if you ask me)!