Boring, boring, boring.
Healthy food is boring. Exercise is boring. Spending time with our kids is boring. The daily grind with our partner is boring. Meditation is boring.
Or are they?
They say everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
Maybe everything you ever wanted is also on the other side of boredom.
Boredom can be a great teacher about what you need to change, internally or externally.
Boredom is how we know we have lost connection with ourselves and life.
Most of us are dopamine addicts and adrenaline junkies. We are constantly stimulated, rewarded, scared and entertained by our devices.
Billion-dollar corporations play with our neurochemistry in a quest to get our attention first and our money second.
We want to have it all: the impact, the health, the love and the play.
But, the day-to-day reality of having it all often feels quite dull.
Struggling with boring Super-Mario Stories
Here is an example of someone struggling with boredom, yours truly.
My son likes to talk endlessly about Super Mario, and I find it boring. He has stamina; he has gone on for hours non-stop; I tested it.
Listening to those Mario stories has been one of my growth edges as a human, leader and parent.
Undivided attention is my son’s key love language. Me listening to him is a way for him to feel loved.
As a coach, I have a significant capacity to pay attention. I can easily spend days focused on my clients’ stories. Can’t I allow my son the same courtesy?
What is it about Super Mario that feels so unbearably boring?
I assume it is not the story. Super Mario would not be one of the most successful video games in history if the story weren’t interesting.
It could be the meaninglessness of the story for me. I do not care about Mario and his adventures. I would much rather hear what happened at school.
It may be that my son is not an experienced storyteller. He will often omit relevant information making the story hard to follow.
But couldn’t I use this as a coaching opportunity? Ask questions when I don’t understand, helping him improve his narration skills.
Maybe my boredom reveals how agitated my mind is. I struggle to be in the moment, doing something as “unproductive” as listening about a fictional video game character.
Could I use my son’s storytelling as a mindfulness exercise? Learn to stop resisting a reality I cannot control and surrender?
Could this be my spiritual practice? My “chop wood and carry water” routine?
Or should I set some boundaries? Boundaries are necessary for the quality and longevity of every relationship.
Should I teach my son that quality time together should be fun for both parties?
Is it even quality time if I do not enjoy listening to the Mario stories? Isn’t authenticity and honesty the cornerstones of every successful relationship?
Could I be creative about this? Read a book about Mario instead or watch the upcoming Mario movie? Or buy a Mario game I can enjoy playing with my son.
Boredom is a messenger
How do my boring Mario stories apply to you?
You may think your business requires you to do boring things for it to thrive.
Maybe your health, maybe your marriage.
Boredom is resistance to the present reality.
It is a messenger to change things, either internally or externally.
It might mean you need to get on a different path. It might mean you need to be more present in the here and now.
How to transmute boredom into growth
Boredom is simply the messenger that we lost connection with ourselves and life itself. And the way to regain connection is to pause.
Unfortunately, what most people do when they feel bored is add more stimulation.
More doing, more scrolling, more information.
We are like the child at the mall who lost his parents and keeps walking around the mall trying to find them, continuously missing them.
Instead of staying still where he lost them and waiting for them to find him.
If we stay still, there is a significant probability that what we seek: peace, pleasure, centeredness or inspiration, will come to us.
We are too scared to do that though.
Striping away the incessant thinking, never-ending distraction and constant doing can feel like an existential threat.
Who are we without all this? Do we even exist?
Yes, we do. What’s more, that’s when we unleash our most genuine, unbounded self.
You might want to delegate the boring things in your business and focus on your genius zone. You might want to learn to enjoy exercise and healthy food if you’re going to sustain healthy habits long-term.
It is the same with my son’s boring Mario stories. I do the work internally to find the pleasure in them. Or, I gently and thoughtfully negotiate a different external reality that does not include so many Mario stories.
Life, when we are connected to it, is never dull. In the big scheme of things, there are millions of people who would give anything for a chance to do the exact boring thing we are resisting.
So, next time you feel bored, I invite you to see it as an opportunity for growth and change. It is simply an invitation to regain connection to yourself and life.