There are lots of lists out there describing what people consider to be the most important things to do in life. And these lists have lovely sentiments. Find love. Appreciate your family. Do something you are passionate about. I don’t disagree with any of that advice. Those are important things. But all those lists avoid […]
If you’ve ever had kids, you’ve heard the familiar lament, “I’m bored!” Kids always say that to parents, as if boredom is a major tragedy. As mature adults, we are less melodramatic if we are bored. We don’t shout it from the rooftops when we are bored, and we certainly don’t expect anyone to solve the issue for us.
However, most of us find boredom to be uncomfortable. We don’t feel good if life isn’t moving forward in some fashion. That is because we are made to achieve. We are built to continually strive to improve ourselves and our circumstances. As a result, we are uneasy with the status quo.
What I’ve found is that God blesses us with periods of inactivity for a reason. He gives us a break in the action so that we can mentally prepare for the challenges that we will face in the future. So, instead of being frustrated with these periods of relative peace, we should be savoring them.
When life is quiet, we need to trust God. We need to trust that He has plans to use us for something important. However, at the moment, He is giving us an opportunity to rest.
I think of these periods like the trough in a wave. They are times when life is still, but there is an inevitable wave of activity coming!
It has taken me a long time to get comfortable with the troughs of life. However, I now know that when life is a little bit boring, I need to enjoy the down time. I need to use the time to mentally rest and prepare for the adventure that inevitably lies ahead.
Below are some ways to turn your boredom into a blessing. The slow periods of life can be incredibly productive if you approach them in the right way.
Study, Pray, Contemplate: When you have down time, resist the temptation to turn on the television. The TV is merely a way to distract you from the discomfort that you are feeling because your life is in a slow period. Instead, use this time for personal growth.
Take time to read books and articles that are spiritually uplifting. If you have a religious practice, you might delve into studying about your religion. There are so many wonderful books that can change the way you think about life.
Recently, I had some forced down time – two five-hour flights. So, I read “Love for Imperfect Things,” by Haemin Sunim, a Zen Buddhist teacher (https://www.amazon.com/Love-Imperfect-Things-Yourself-Perfection-ebook/dp/B07BPMS45Y/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=imperfect&qid=1556974650&s=books&sr=1-8). It is a beautifully written book about living life with wisdom and compassion. I don’t care for flying, but I was grateful to have that time to read Mr. Sunim’s book without distraction!
When life is slow, it is also a perfect time to pray and contemplate. So often, those two activities go by the wayside when we are busy. When we are busy with work or children or housework (or all three!), it is nearly impossible to say, “OK. I am going to stop what I am doing and take 30 minutes to pray and meditate on the concept of forgiveness.” That just isn’t happening.
When there is a break in the busyness of life, don’t be alarmed that it is quiet. Instead, use the time to practice being still. Pray for guidance in your life. Contemplate your past and envision your future. Quiet your mind to be open to the inspiration that you may receive.
Prepare for the Future: We tend to live life in a very reactive manner. A challenge comes up, and we respond. We don’t typically prepare for challenges. It is a very stressful way to live. When we are in one of those boring times of life, it is a good time to get your house in order, so to speak. This is the time to prepare for the future and for any issues that could arise.
For example, last year my husband and I learned that he would be undergoing a major surgery during the summer. In advance of the surgery, he stopped working, and we had some downtime. Instead of spending that time fretting about the upcoming surgery, we were proactive. We did as much as we could to make sure that our home and finances were well-organized. As a result, when his surgery finally came, we were able to fully focus on his recovery. Having our lives in order before the surgery dramatically reduced our post-surgery stress.
When you have downtime in life, make a list of those tasks that you’ve been putting off. If you’ve been ignoring your financial situation, now is the time to create a budget and a plan to save for the future. If your house needs organizing, take some evenings to reorganize your closets or garage. If you have piles of paper or digital photos that no one looks at, organize them into beautiful photo books that you can enjoy and which can be passed down to your children.
Find Someone to Serve: When we don’t have a lot going on in life, we tend to do a lot of navel gazing. “Woe is me. My life is at a standstill. I have nothing going on.” Instead of whining and irritating your friends and family members with your concerns about being “bored” or “dissatisfied with life,” do something positive.
Find someone or some organization that needs your help. Trust me. You won’t have to look far. There are lots of people (and animals!) who need you. They need your time, attention and compassion.
The problem is that when we are bored, we tend to engage in pointless activities like shopping, surfing the Internet, going to bars, etc. And those activities only make life seem more boring and pointless. If you want to give meaning to life, you have to serve others.
Start within your own home or family. You may have a child or pet who needs more of your attention and time. Take your child to the movies or out for an ice cream. Spend time talking to him or her. Or spend extra time walking your dog. Trust me – I’ve never met a dog who will turn down a walk.
Or there may be someone in your community who would benefit from a friendly chat. Invite that person out for a cup of coffee. If you feel more ambitious, volunteer at a local animal shelter, social services agency or house of worship. The number of people who could use your time and talents are endless.
Boredom isn’t a symptom of a lack of entertainment (unless you are five-years-old). Adult boredom comes from feeling like you don’t have a purpose in life. However, you should never feel that way! You are valuable. God placed you on this earth for a very important purpose, so you should never feel bored. Instead, you should feel inspired to find something meaningful to do with every day that you are on this earth.
This week, if you are feeling like you are in a trough on the sea of life, see this down time for the blessing that it is. Don’t be bored. Instead, view this time as an opportunity to prepare for the future. To grow spiritually. To explore ways in which you can serve the world. Boredom is for people who lack vision. Attack life and be inspired to use the blessing of “nothing to do” to do something great.
(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)
Books: “The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother” by Meerabelle Dey (https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Success-Working-Mother/dp/1546329544 )