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I routinely ask my patients what’s happening since we last met and if there is anything exciting or ominous in the immediate future. Thanks to covid19, the usual response I receive now is ‘nothing’ and ‘nothing’. This is often said with a grin and the add-on ‘I’m boring!”. I usually reply I like boring; it’s a sign no bad matters are happening.

Most emotions point us to pay attention to something, but boredom tells us what we are doing isn’t worth our while. With the instant availability of cellphone shenanigans, boredom is now rarer than at any other time in history – and more awful when experienced.  We would rather eat rats at Tewkesbury than experience boredom.  I recently heard about a study on boredom involving college kids asked to do nothing but sit and think in a room that had in it a device that would give a small but unpleasant electric shock if touched.  It turns out a sizeable amount of participants preferred shocking themselves – sometimes often – to that of being bored with their thoughts. 

Our monkey brains are wired to learn and grow and do things that have meaning and when this isn’t happening, we become sorely vexed. An element of why folks to do drugs, drink, smoke, eat junk food, etc. is they feel bored and cannot think of anything else to do.  Most job dissatisfaction is based on boredom and the underlying sense what they do has no meaning.  

Urs Truly is seldom if ever bored, simply because I always have something that interests me. I feel fortunate this way. There is nearly always something to do and what I have to do is worthwhile. Like Mary Poppins’ spoonful of sugar, I make meaning out of the mundane.  However, the dark side of this is I don’t allow myself times to be bored. This would be a good thing I reckon. Many authors and inventors relate their ideas came to them during quiet times of boredom when they were not distracted by things.

Covid has many folks feeling bored for the first time in a long while.  Rather than try to escape from it, let’s try to learn something from it. The quote “Be still, and know that I am God” holds truth that when things are quiet we are open to inspiration and insight.   

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February 2021

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