THE summer holidays are approaching and once again the same complaint will be heard up and down the country. “I’m bored”. “There’s nothing to do”.
We all know the feeling. Days off rained out, trips to the zoo postponed because of an emergency, friends who can’t come over because they’re sick. And suddenly, plans disappear and we’re left with “nothing to do.” And so boredom strikes us throughout our lives. School is boring. Work is boring. Why is it boring? I don’t know, it just is.
But where does boredom come from? Is it a lack of stimulation, not enough excitement? One day it’s fun, the next it’s boring. And newness doesn’t seem to make a difference. Some new things are boring, some old things are exciting. At work, too, the same activity drives us to distraction or totally absorbs our attention. Sales, computer programming, teaching – it doesn’t matter. Boredom doesn’t come from the activity itself.
So boredom comes from the inside. It’s an “attitude problem,” as the saying goes. As such, we just have to adjust our perspective, see things differently, and just like that, we’re not bored any more. How do we get ourselves out? It’s not like we can put on glasses and get that new insight that changes our attitude. Well, actually, yes it is like that. Have you ever noticed that when you’re bored, you’re restless? You fidget, can’t settle down. If boredom doesn’t come from a lack of stimulation, maybe it comes from a lack of focus, a lack of purpose. Why should I bother reading that book? What’s the point?
Isn’t that the question we often ask when bored? Why bother? What’s the use? It’s not that nothing happens where we are; it’s that nothing significant seems to be happening where we are. In a sense, boredom signifies we’ve accomplished an objective, achieved part of our life’s mission. And now it’s time to move on, get started on the next part, reach for the next rung in the ladder of our lives.
Isn’t this true in all areas of our lives? We have to push ourselves, leave where we were. Then, we’ll be following in the footsteps of Abraham. “Go forth,” God told him. Time to move on. Don’t stagnate. Your restlessness is a clue - you need to refocus. And when that new goal comes into focus, suddenly everything is clear, we’re energised and we haven’t got time to be bored.
Rabbi Yehuda Pink MSc
Solihull & District Hebrew Congregation