Are these some of your favorite activities?
No? And yet you still do them almost daily, don’t you?
Are you unemployed, bored, waiting for Godot, or in any other way just wondering what to do with all the time you have on your hands? (if you exist, please leave a comment)?
What do you do about it? Do you bother to bring music, books, crosswords, your smartphone wherever you go – only to get doubly bored when you forget them, are out of range or run out of battery…?
Is there a better way? I think so.
Say: “At least you are not ”
Before I retired, whenever I found myself bored (e.g., waiting for the bus), I just had to think “at least I’m not at the office” to put a smile on my face. Often I also tried simply smiling, which actually takes the boredom away, as well as makes you a little happy (more than you’d think if you haven’t tried it).
However, it can feel weird, and if you’re conscious of what others think, it’s not always the best solution…
Make sure you pick the right smile, if smiling in public for no reason
What if you don’t even have an office to imagine not being at, then what do you do?
These are my favorite tricks for avoiding boredom (However, I can’t remember the last time I was bored):
Think of something worse than your current activity – that you are not doing right now: school, office, conference (if you are actually at one of those places, I’m sorry. You’ve reached rock bottom. Perhaps you should just quit, or… *going out on a limb here* try actual work at work).
Try being grateful: I’m not hungry, I’m not cold, I live in …[Sweden? Meh..].
What you wished for. Imagine the reason for your idleness is something you have longed for or used to long for: Think “Vacation!”, “Weekend!”, “Retirement!”, “No boss”
Never, ever exacerbate your misery by emphasizing your exact situation (“I’m unemployed and have nothing to do“). Make it into something else in your mind.
If you have too much time, you are special and should be grateful
Everybody (else) has too little time.
At least that’s what most people complain about. Just think about that. If you are long term bored in your life, you have something almost nobody else has: abundant time. Just use it – for anything:
Pretend to be a child: ride a bicycle until you fall, make drawings or oil paintings, record a music video (starring you of course), goof around
Do good: walk somebody’s dog, visit elderly people and just talk (they will be immensely grateful and you just might learn something)
Write a research report: on the first thing that comes to mind (interview homeless people and send the story to your local paper, find out what makes a face beautiful, write the history of the world, make a family tree…)
If you make sure you’re never bored – by being active, by making yourself and others laugh, by accidentally hurting yourself, by doing scary things, you’ll never get age anxiety either.
Leading a non-boring life means saturating your memory with high intensity milestones that slow down the perception of time in the retrospect. Your life will seem longer and fuller when reminiscing – and as an added bonus you’ll learn more and postpone common age related brain diseases too.
Money is never an issue – If you have enough to read this, you have enough to never be bored.
And if you are chasing after a career and money in droves, you can not ever be bored, because you should be thinking, doing, planning, learning, investing. All. The. Time. Your own personal hell will materialize once you get to that FU money.
A cure for short term boredom
Yeah, you say, that sounds good for weekends without money, lazy summer weeks, unemployment, retirement and so on. But what about waiting in line, or for the bus?
Personally I did katas/forms (a certain pattern of martial arts air punches and kicks) at bus stops as a 14 year old (as a 24 year old too, but that’s just embarrassing). Katas were especially helpful during cold winter days (or nights). Just don’t overdo it if there are people around.
Back in my days a a ninja, before taekwondo and kickboxing
Nowadays I use my brain more than my body, being mindful of my surroundings, of textures, colors, people, their faces, style, buildings. I go deeper as well, thinking about underlying processes (rusting, smiling, noise etc.). I pay attention to my breathing, my posture (e.g., breathe deeply and relax my shoulders or strike a power pose). I try recalling what I last learned or heard during my podcast walks.
When you know you will be idle for a long time
Be prepared and keep material with you (write notes on a phone or pad, always have your devices stocked with dozens of pod casts lined up for listening, bring your e-reader [Kindle Paperwhite]).
Choose your material carefully (personally I get bored instantly by talking heads, ordinary news, celebrities talking about their childhood and so on, but I’m always intrigued by new technological findings). Keep adding to your pod cast queue and your reading wish list.
How is being 100% retarded working out?
I’m never bored and this is really all I do in a day or a week. And please note, I don’t even have a telephone number so I never spend any time on the phone:
I’m reading, walking, exercising, collecting and listening to pod casts, gradually building more elaborate practices for information input and output, while caring for my adopted rescue dog and writing blog articles and books. In short, I’m doing exactly everything I dreamed of doing. Winning!
Perhaps the most important insight from retirement was that having a purpose probably is important after all.
-The blog and the dog took care of that, but I’m sure just writing a book or starting an amateur research project would have sufficed too. However, a book just isn’t quite as fun if nobody’s reading it.
Waiting too long before retardation was also good, since it has given me an extra mental buffer (a few years too many in front of stock market screens and you can think “At least I’m not at the office” for the rest of your life).
Idle lessons from a retard
Fight long term boredom with a battery of pod casts, Kindle Paperwhite and an Amazon wish list of books lined up, a notebook or digital commonplace, and a list of ongoing childish, good or useful projects. Start building your own pod cast and book lists now.
Vanquish short term idleness with mind games (“not at office”, “don’t have influenza”) and mindfulness (observe details around you and in you). Use the bonus down time for deep thoughts on your work, your life, for practicing power poses, doing shoulder [least conspicuous] mobility exercises etc. Make a mental list of mini activities that can be executed anywhere: breathing, observing, power poses, shoulder mobility…
Never waste time; enjoy it and use it.
Sooner or later you’ll be like me, and appreciate a few extra minutes waiting for the bus or tube – seeing them as a bonus rather than torture. Unless you are in a hurry that is… but then again; you should never be in a hurry. You should just walk quickly between interesting meetings.
Smile. If nothing else works, or is appropriate, just smile (unless you are Stephen Hawking. He can’t smile. But something tells me he never struggles with boredom anyway)
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