Part 3 | Strengths and Boredom

strengths-photo-12

December 30, 2016

We’ve all been bored.  So, philosophically, we all know what boredom is.  However, researchers, in a scientific sense, still don’t know exactly what it is and what purpose, exactly, it serves.  What we do know is that there are five main types of boredom.

Indifferent Boredom is when we withdraw from the world, daydream, and, basically “check out” of reality.  This type of boredom is brought on by fatigue and is generally rather peaceful.

Calibrating Boredom is when we are somewhat agitated, unmotivated, and unengaged in the present.  With this type of boredom we might feel a little bit anxious and lost.

Searching Boredom is when we feel restless and trapped.  In this state, we think of other ways that we could be using our time and we try to find a way out of whatever it is that we are doing in the moment.

Reactant Boredom is a highly charged emotional state where we feel strongly compelled to escape.  We may feel intense negativity about our current situation and blame others whom we feel are responsible for it.  Here, we feel like we are wasting our time and we think continually about other things that we could be doing.

Apathetic Boredom is the most common of all boredoms.  This is when we feel hopeless and lack any motivation to change.  It’s a feeling akin to depression.

Okay, we know that it exists.  We know that it comes in different forms.  We know from our direct experience that it is mostly unpleasant.  So, what can be done about boredom?

One solution is to develop a contemplation practice.  It is simple.  Put away your phone.  Put away your computer.  Look around the room or stare out a window until a question surfaces.  Maybe it’s something simple like, “I wonder how many people have been in this room?” or “How many leaves are on that tree out there?”  Then, take a few moments to contemplate the question.  This opens the mind and forms new connections in the brain.

When we tune our minds to the world around us, there is always something to think about.  And, contemplation is an art.  It takes practice.  We may not always have “deep” thoughts, but we can train our minds, little by little, to go deeper and to see the world with increased fascination and curiosity.

Also, remember that we, ourselves, still contain mysteries.

For example, science still does not know exactly how many cells make up the human body; estimates range from 10 trillion to 400 trillion in the average adult person.  So, how is it that we don’t know?  For one, what “counts” as being a part of the body is up for debate.  Take the bacteria in our gut, for example—it is so numerous and vital to our health and functioning that our gut flora has been called “the forgotten organ”.  It is suggested that for every one cell in the human body there are ten bacteria.  This means that even if we said that the body contains 10 trillion cells, there are 100 trillion more bacteria inside us.  We cannot live without them, should we count them?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

zach-profile

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Part 2 | Strengths and Boredom

strengths-photo-10December 21, 2016

What we see depends largely on what we look for—if we expect to see something we are more likely to find it.  Seems simple enough, right?

But, what we see also depends on which tools we are using to do our looking.  Take, for example, stargazing.  If we lay out a blanket and stare up at the night sky with our naked eyes, yes, we will see some cool stuff.  But, what happens when we pull out the telescope and observe that same vast space?

We see the depth of the craters on the moon.  We see in stark clarity the contours of other planets.  We see the details of the stars and the stars beyond the stars.

In brief, we see more, literally.

With the right looking-glass our reality takes on new layers.  We find dimensions that were there all along, which were invisible to us before.  And, nothing exchanged except for how we were looking.

Boredom is like that, too; we pretend that there is only one way to “see” ourselves and the world around us, which gets old fast.  We sometimes forget to look any deeper.

So, the trick to overcoming boredom is to give ourselves better tools for viewing our lives.  This could be something as simple as an affirmation—like, “I meet interesting people everywhere I go” or “The world is full of intriguing things to look at”.  When we do this, we plant a seed in our mind to be on the lookout for interesting and intriguing people, places and things in our lives.

Another tool that we can develop to stave off boredom is curiosity.  When we allow ourselves to be curious about our world and the lives of others, we open ourselves up to new ways of thinking and being.  One way to produce this is to carry a little notebook around and jot down ideas and questions as they come up throughout the day.  That way, when we have to sit in a waiting room, or when our coffee date is running late, we can do a little googling and learn something.

A notebook in our pocket also serves as a physical reminder of our commitment to take a greater interest in the world around us.  It’s also a great conversation starter.

So, questions we can ask to start this process might sound like this: What am I curious about?  What do I look for from life?  Where is my attention naturally drawn?  Am using a microscope when what I really need is a telescope?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

zach-profile

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Part 1 | Strengths and Boredom

strengths-photo-9December 15, 2016

It isn’t uncommon to hear folks say that “life is short”.  And, in some ways, it is.

For example, compared to a Great Basin Brittlecone Pine tree our lives are but a blip on the screen—the oldest on record being a tree named Methuselah who lived to be 5,062 years old.

Or, take Adwaita, an Aldabra Giant Tortoise, who died in 2006 at the age of 255, which made him the oldest living land animal.  Think for a moment that this means that he was born in the year 1750…

That said, making comparisons can be dangerous because it puts us out of touch with our own, specific reality.  That is, we are humans and not trees or tortoises.  So, we are wise to calibrate our sense of “long” and “short” based on something more than comparisons to beings outside of our selves (and our species).

This means, we might consider asking the question, “How has life felt so far?”  Long or short?  For most of us, the answer is, well, both.

And, it is true.  When we measure ourselves against Methuselah, indeed, our time here is brief.  But, let us consider for a moment that life, too, is long.  So long, in fact, that we have time enough to grow bored!

What can this mean?  After all, we live on a planet where life is so diverse that even today we are discovering new species.  Add to that, there are more than 7 billion humans here.  And, we are a busy species—worldwide, we publish a quarter of a billion new book titles every year; pump 70 million barrels of oil each day; and send 80 trillion emails annually.

So, how is it that we are able to experience an emotion like boredom?  The answer probably boils down to one word: perspective.

Our perspective shapes our reality, it is the pair of glasses through which we view the world.  It defines our expectations, our attitude, and, most importantly, our limitations.  Simply put, the narrower our view, the narrower our scene.  What we make available to ourselves in terms of stimulus and opportunities begins between our ears.

We can ask ourselves: When I get bored is it because there is nothing to do and/or think about?  Or, is it because, I, myself, am not doing or thinking about anything?  Can we ever blame someone outside of ourselves for our boredom?  These are real (not rhetorical) questions.

What action can I take to stay more lively engaged in my own life and the lives of my fellow humans, tortoises, and trees?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

zach-profile

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Part 3 | Strengths and Pure Potential

strengths-photo-9December 8, 2016

While reaching our highest potential is an “inside job”—as in, we transform our lives only when we change our thinking and habits—there is something to be said about our environment.  Specifically, we can ask, “How are my surroundings affecting my growth?”

Take a goldfish, for example; it will grow in proportion to its container.  Which is to say, the bigger the bowl, the bigger the fish.  If we take it from a little aquarium and put it in a bathtub, it will get larger.  And, why?  Because it has more room to grow!  It makes sense.

Well, that’s us, too, in a way.  We grow to a size that suits our environment—factored into this is equation is our access to resources as well as our perceptions, fears, and personal history.  At its core, it boils down to this: when we surround ourselves with people and situations that encourage our personal growth and evolution, we swim in a bigger tank.  And vice-versa.

Houseplants do this as well.  The bigger the pot, the bigger the plant.  Right?  Here, more soil means more access to nutrients (growth material) and more space for roots to grow down and out.

So, the question here becomes this: How big is my “container”?

Are my roots bunched into a ball?  Am I a goldfish in a Mason jar or in a swimming pool?  What action can I take to give my life more room to roam?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.zach-profile

Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.