Thursday, August 4, 2011

Have you been hit by boredom?

Courtesy - Missbrain.com

My daughter discovered boredom at a very early stage of her life.  At the age of six she made the sublime declaration “I am bored of getting bored”. 

Not just children, even we adults have been through a phase when we felt stagnant, listless and bored out of our wits.  Most of us will choose to ignore it.  Why risk moving out of our comfort zone when we can wallow in misery instead?  For a while we do try our best to fill the void with a bungee jump down a ravine or holing up in a forest reserve for days. It is rejuvenating, gives us a high but it is temporary.  

A select few take it as a wakeup call and try to break out of the rut – walk out of a stifling relationship, rethink priorities, forsake the boardroom to live a life less lived.  Unfortunately, not many have the liberty to renounce comfort for the sake of dreams.  

Many of us have the tendency to drift off towards distractions during phases of boredom.

Tedium is a scary thing – it can be constructive or destructive.  It all depends on what you choose to do with it.


When you are younger, you are busy climbing the stairs to success.  You have milestones to look forward to – a six figure salary, a vacation in Salzburg, a house with a garage, your dream car in the garage, your dream partner in that car.  And when you finally reach the summit, you are overwhelmed by the lack of direction you are now confronted with. You are on a plateau and do not know where to proceed.   Where do I go now, what do I have to look forward to?

In our clockwork precise lives we seldom pause to think and evaluate our choices.  Perhaps we do not want to.  And when we finally do get time to introspect, we do not like what we see. 

Most of us are scared of having nothing to do at all, at least I am.  We fill our time with countless activities.  We are afraid to be alone with our thoughts because we do not know what we will end up discovering.  

Boredom is the breeding ground for unhappiness.

It was about nine years back I was hit with this dreaded ennui.  As our plane from Goa touched down on the Delhi runway, I couldn’t stop my tears running down my cheeks. In laid back Goa we had encountered life at its languid best. We had experienced the joy of having nothing to do at all yet be filled with a sense of calm. The thought of having to come back to the tedium of chores and the unending list of to-do’s filled me with dread.  Goa had opened my eyes to the ordinariness of my life.

This despite being blessed with everything a woman could ask for – a close knit family, a warm welcoming house and a job that kept me charged up.  So why was I filled with a sense of despondency? Was I behaving like a petulant child, craving for a utopian existence? 

Perhaps I was.  I was seized with this state of restlessness yet I refused to do anything about it.  I did the next best thing.  I got busier and made sure that feeling got buried under a heap of inconsequential trivialities.  I knew I was procrastinating.

You know, I often ask my friends to be selfish. I tell them you are your first priority.  Only when you are happy, can you make your family happy.  Martyrdom looks good only in books and movies.  Two years back when I finally decided to leave my job, I knew I was doing the right thing.   It took me almost three years to make up my mind.  No, let me correct that, my husband coerced me to make up my mind.  A lot of my friends were convinced that I had lost it, but I haven’t regretted the decision even once. 

When I finally put in my papers, I made a list of things I always wanted to do but never had the time for.  I started learning dancing with 12-year olds for company, took a second shot at driving and most importantly I was finally writing.  It was a dream I had nurtured for long. 

Now that I have the time to think, I often ask myself – what is the purpose of my life?  I have always taken life as it comes, welcoming the ups and shrugging off the lows as part of life.  But is being a good mother, a loving wife and a teacher who was perhaps instrumental in influencing a few young minds, enough?   It gives me immense joy that my blog-posts put a smile on some of your faces.   But that doesn’t qualify as a purpose.  Or does it?

Recently the husband attended the 7 Habits signature program and came back with a revelation that changed his way of thinking.  He was asked “when you are celebrating your 80th birthday, what would you like your family, friends and colleagues to tell about you?”  What stumped him was the realisation that, while we talk of goals and mission and organisational vision at our work place, we almost never define these objectives when it comes to our own lives and our families.  It got us thinking on how screwed up our priorities are.  Look how we push ourselves beyond our limits for success. How often we take our most loved ones for granted.  Your battles, your victories, your achievements are of no consequence if they failed to fill you with a sense of self-satisfaction.  And when you look back they all seem trivial in the larger scheme of life.  

Friends, success, acquisitions are no guarantee for happiness – it has to come from within.

So what should be our priorities be really?  Should it be material goals or simply achieving a state of mind?  A life where you stood by your core values without having to compromise or a life when you trampled over fragile egos and blazed your way to the top.  Have you ever wondered why our childhood memories fill us with so much happiness? Because it makes us recount the days when we had an open heart and we embraced the good with the bad.  We knew no angst, no hate and stress was something that only our parents had. 

I crave for that state of bliss.

So what would I like my cherished ones to say on my 80th birthday?  That I was a good human being, the eastern Sun who spread sunshine in their lives...  the one who made them smile.....the one who stood by them no matter what...

If I can earn so much goodwill, can I really have any reason to feel bored with life?
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53 comments:

  1. We all need to learn the 'art of living' .. :-)

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  2. My goal in life would be live my life to the fullest!! And be happy with whatever comes to me!! :)And about my 80th B'day: No Idea! :) Shall do my "Survivor Dance" that day with my Grandchildren :P

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  3. Happiness has to come from within otherwise the restlessness just makes it all so hopeless.
    I have finally reached a place where I am happy with my own company and also when surrounded by people. I am trying to let go of expectations from things and people that will make me happy...
    One life one chance live it as u like it...

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  4. its A-mazing...very well put...

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  5. This is a very contemplative post. It really is a musing over the meaning of happiness and what our priorities should be (forgive the bad pun).
    In our daily rush of life, we forget to live. I remember a line from a famous poem which I also used as the title of one of my first blog posts: "What is this life, if full of care. We have no time to stand and stare."
    I don't have much to add to it or say, as my own experience is a mere fraction of yours. But maybe I can take a few points from this post. :)

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  6. Well I was hit by this kind of a feeling during my 4 years of engineering. Life felt utterly purposeless and later I realized that BTech wasn't really my calling. Sometimes acceptance comes in a painfully slow manner. But we gotta learn to move on. It's not too difficult to grapple with the truth once we've made up our minds. Wonderfully written post this. Felt like somebody was talking about my personal feelings, although I've much more left to encounter in life.

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  7. Well, boredom is just another disease affecting mostly metro people or people living in big towns. Its really a contradiction as when people living in big cities already have an endless list of to-dos then do they really have a time to feel bored. On the contrary, you will find most of the people living in smaller towns don't have those many things, activities and to-do, still they hardly know about boredom. In fact, this is quite obvious. When you are living in a flood of activities and to-dos which are more in number than your minutes in a day, then obviously any chance of being with just yourself ought to induce boredom.
    Very well written post.

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  8. Hi,
    This is Vivek Kumar from merinews.com . I would like to talk to you. Please contact me on: vivek.kumar@merinews.com

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  9. I concur with everything you have mentioned here. With more money and increased standard of living, this sense of leaving a purposeless life is also coming. While it is important to take care of your family and loved ones, it is supremely important that we know what WE want and what makes us happy. It does not mean having a big flashy dream, but small things which can make a difference to you, which will make your heart happy and fill it with content and satisfaction.

    Beautiful Post.

    Kunal

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  10. What a post Purba. You spoke my mind! I have left my job too to give myself a break to concentrate on blogging & photography. But I may give my career one more chance before I give it up again....This was a very very lovely post.....really good!

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  11. Aativas...Much ignored but much needed.

    karthick....Nopes, that's not a solution.

    Cindrella....80 seems a distant nightmare to all of us, but yes I would also love to be surrounded with love and family.

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  12. Vineeta...Expectations is the root cause for unhappiness, we'd all be better off without it:)

    ..... -> LOL well put.

    Prats...You are happy being on your own, not many can claim that.

    Samadrita...Ahh we have something in common. My college life wasn't exactly an exhilarating experience. I hated Economics :)

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  13. Maninder...I agree - we are constantly seeking excitement, craving a heady rush and when we finally have time for ourselves we have no clue what to do with it.

    Vivek...Sure

    Kunnu....True, a classic case of messed up priorities. But how many of us know what we really want? Point to ponder upon..

    And so glad you liked.

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  14. Boredom is the breeding ground for unhappiness.
    Very very true ! You know I decided to take a holiday not just because I want to travel but because I was bored at work. And you are so right it was escapism ! Eventually we all need to confront the real reason for boredom and do something about it !

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  15. Chintan...I am happy that you could relate to it. And a break always rejuvenates you.

    Pzes...Aww...and then you read this post :(

    Ruchira....Blessed are the ones who love their job. Who doesn't mind doing what they love and getting paid for it :)

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  16. SO very true .. I went through that patch .. I worked for a american firm as computer programmer the salary is excellent and I was doing good.. But aborad no friends and all .. evening became boring and weekends .. I did do the INDIAN thing of overtime sat-sun went in earning the big bucks .. But not anymore it was a mad rush to fill up the bank balance ..

    and Me being me someone suggested I shud join the police and I tell you its the best thing to have happened each shift is new and so much happens that I dont get time to get bored ..
    Met so many people made some good friends .. friends with whom i can trust my life and those who i know have my back..

    Now I love both my jobs and am enjoying them ..

    on 80th birthday well a good though but I dont want to live till 80th .. its too long not even half way there ... What will I do till then..

    You are such a lovely person I know you through your blogs only and I do think you are a good person so you have almsot achieved what you want to be then :)

    all the best to you and keep smiling

    Bikram's

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  17. I know that feeling to well because I have gone through it too. I no more knew what I was doing and what I wanted to do with my life. I was bored thinking about mundane things. Bored running behind money like others.
    Very nice post btw.

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  18. materialistic things do give one happiness...but it's temporary...to fine permanent peace and joy one has to look within...

    it is different from your other posts...but is still love it equally...

    and yea...i don't remember the last time i got bored ...when i have nothing to do, i at least have a good book to read....:)

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  19. Wwll, until very recently I seriously was a very paroniod women who acted like I came from Germany with organisation so fierce and I thought I would take my compeny to heavens!
    But I never thought what makes me feel good, what I like to eat, and what I perfer to dress and so on.
    I studied BSc Mathematics and Physics and obviously I cannot get any job for this qualification. So I joined Infosys Outsourcing and I worked for order management which was sick and boring. So one of Client Operations head gave me a green signal to join a Finance and Accounting process and you know what I LOVED it. After this, I started to love my life and I am now studyign further in ACCA. I now take my life slow to study while working. :o)

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  20. well to be frank...havent got time to encounter this feeling of boredom yet. Maybe because I always believe in finding time for things I love..even when i am drenched in my books or overburdened by college assignments.
    plus, like u mentioned..its about extracting the higher purposes and reasons frm materialistic craves and desires that brings about a true sense of tranquility:)


    sarah

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  21. An excellent post. I feel very bored sometimes and dread it. Reading posts like this helps a lot. :)

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  22. Every single day at work I thank my dad for almost forcing me into my current profession as I absolutely love what I do.I love reading,always wanted to write and can not resist grooving to music.I do all of that but still manage to get bored at times.
    Boredom arises from not being able to enjoy 'simple pleasures in life'You probably enjoyed Goa because you learnt a special art there..'the art of doing nothing'.
    This art of doing nothing, minus the guilt is what is required to appreciate simple pleasures in life and stay away from boredom and depression.I wish I can do more of that more often!
    (http://sharmila-mymind.blogspot.com/2009/10/simple-pleasures-doing-nothing.html)
    Felt the same a while ago and just like you,rediscovered the joys of long abandoned(by me) dance forms(cookie my daughter and her teen aged friends earn extra pocket money by teaching me and my friends).
    Belly dancing class is next and by the age of 80 may be..may be I will manage how to meditate!:p
    Sorry for the space hogged and thank you for this lovely post.
    ps.Do we always think about this after having been there and done that?Just curious!

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  23. Purba, this is a fabulous post. And what a feeling to put out in the open. What you talk about is what can only be understood after going through it. (so many people commented so intelligently, got to love blogs :-) )

    Meaning/purpose of life is such a subjective thing until one realizes that it is to be happy with oneself. To feel good about what surrounds one, etc, etc. And its NOT material. Ever!

    Like every other gyan, life gives this mostly after one has gone through a break down that would not have come by if one had this gyan.

    Thought provoking post!

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  24. You know boredom is not just for those who have accomplished almost everything or have nothing to do. Boredom even comes over those who are busy and have major tasks to complete. Its just that they have no clue what to do next and are reallly tired of everything.

    I could so relate to your post,
    As always a fan!

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  25. Bikramjeet...What a journey Bikram, from a techie to a policeman. And happy that you are finally doing what you love.

    80th birthday is figurative - basically denotes the autumn of your life when you have done it all and seen it all.

    And thank you so much for your kind words :)

    Nethra...Realization is the first step towards change :)

    SUb...What would we do without books :))

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  26. Bhawna....I am loving how everyone is opening up, discussing the ups and downs of their life.

    Makes you feel good that there are many like you and me out there.

    Sarah...Beautifully put Sarah. Not many at your age show such maturity.

    Ajay...And I loved reading your post on happiness:)

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  27. Hi, Purba-no indeed, in answer to the last question'can I really have any reason to feel bored with life?'..nicely written. And, remember, at such ennui times,you need to think of those who're not as lucky, who struggle for a daily existence. That thought alone is enough to take away any feelings of boredom and put one on the right track, I feel.:)

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  28. Pratyush...Sometimes it takes a major upheaval to make us change the way we think. I've heard trauma affected people admit that it was perhaps the best thing to have happened to them. Jerked them out of complacency.

    Red Handed....We depend on others to make us happy, once we overcome that we have achieved Nirvana.

    Amit...It's because we don't have to struggle we can ponder on higher purpose of life :)

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  29. Funnily, the happiest people are those who are able to live for others, not the ones who feel martyred by what they are doing for them, but those who enjoy it. They are never bored either. So what if it means just putting a smile on someone's face like my dear friend Purba does? And I wish I could be there on your 80th birthday to hear what you have to share :D

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  30. Even my 4 and half years repeat this often, specially after few moments, I change the TV channel , other than cartoon. Lol!! a sentence hit me..to live a life less lived. Well said. Even at age of 40, I am clueless.. what I really want. :( The moment I start enjoying something, my priorities get changed.. and again I am.. :( But I am hopeful. Will be on the way soon...God is great!!

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  31. yes Purba, I was working as if I am alive only to work and off late, I work to >live< and not live to work.
    It took almost 5 years to realise this ( I thank my husband for constantly making me understand this). I learnt a lot from Czechs as well. They are very relaxed people and are sports freaks.
    Yes, giving targets to oneself is good but I was unhappy when I did not meet it. Others were not. I felt as if I am killing myself mentally and I am my "own worse boss" and so I started to write as well. I am improving my english, but I am happy to write what I feel :o)

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  32. I think you have already earned much more than goodwill through your blog. You bring smiles, laughs and hoots into our lives which are precious in a world that has so less happiness in it.

    Boredom is just a state of mind, like every other emotion, it goes away when we will it away. If it doesn't then we just aren't trying hard enough :)

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  33. Zephyr...I know what your friends and family will say about you. A woman who stood by her principles and beliefs, fun, lively, loving, she brought cheer to our lives.

    Khushi...Ultimately we all want to be surrounded with happiness and love, how we go about it is the trickiest part :)

    Bhavana....We set lofty goals for ourselves only to be disappointed.

    Priyanka....Ahh so well put. I hate people who crib...instead of whining, do something about it!

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  34. Why wait for the 80th?
    I would talk about how much sunshine you spread even on your next birthday!

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  35. You have written your mind in your words . this is the beauty of this post.
    I guess all one of us, somewhere along this mad rush for career and cash ,future,family blah blah have lost ourselves , our true selves. In one way it is the practical realities of life which one cannot avoid if you happen to be the bread earner of the family but yes maybe a early retirement ..ha ha and go for rock climbing or sky diving with my daughter slogging out with her office files ha ha ...looking forward to ...purba once again ..you connect

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  36. i agree with you purba.we are just scared to move out of our comfort zone. recently a colleague of mine ditched a high paying job and continued to work for her boring job, just because she dint want to enter a new territory and disturb the 'rut'. Yet she complains and rants about her current job!!

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  37. I am never hit by boredom, it tries to strangle me for a change. :)

    this post seems much different from others. More contemplating, mellow... Nice.

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  38. Hi Purba
    Yeap lifes all about sunshine...spreading it in others lives that is...caus thats proably how we can enrich our lives...nice post...

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  39. Keep writing till you are eighty! And then 80s will be the new 40s!!

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. Nice one Purba.. Something that I have been thinking (& then forget, continue with what I have to do) for a long time.. I think it is the same with most of us. In my opinion, 'live life king size', 'live life the way you want' are all good to read.. It is very difficult or shall I say, are masked by the actual priorities, commitments, dependants and many other things that define our life. Let’s face the reality, our life is bound with so many things and we have to compromise on certain aspects which cannot be (most often) neglected…

    We do live for the better future, always. But yes, we shouldn’t stick to it so much that, we miss the fun, things we always wanted to do – in the present – if get a chance… It is easy to say don’t worry about the future, enjoy the present… But is it really so? At the same time, I am also not saying we shouldn’t try towards what we always liked. The point is, we should have a balance.

    And yeah, what I would like to hear from my loved ones on my 80th birthday, (I have no idea, if I would live so far ;) ) it would be the same like what you have mentioned… What else can be better than such a feeling.. isn’t it?

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  42. This one raises the bar and delves deeper. I am amazed. How easily you write a fun post about motormouth Rakhee and then slip into a serious contemplative and introspective post.

    On your 80th i will be around 84....we shall rock it. Hic!Hopefully!

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  43. Harish...The many moods of a woman :)

    India's no.1 blog....If we can all do that, the world would be a perfect place to live in.

    Giribala....Hehe...I don't mind getting old hoping to see your prophecy come true.

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  44. Enchanta...You wont have to wait too long, it's just a few weeks away :)

    RK...Isn't it why we all love singing" I want to break free".

    DazzleDiva...I hated what my job was doing to me - I was cribbing, venting 24x7...Thank God those days are behind me.

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  45. Sunil Padiyar ...Most of us don't define the objectives of our life, what we expect and how to go about it. We are content taking it as it comes. I am no different either.

    Alka...Oooh...I love the idea of the two of us running amok and painting the town red :D

    I write fun posts to unwind. Serious posts stress me out.

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  46. Fully agree with you.But everyone talks about things like this these days. But doing quite the opposite. Our last generation did not say all this but went for peaceful 9.00 to 5.00 government jobs and had so much time for everything else. Where are those nice 9 to 5 jobs these days?

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  47. Great stuff. I am catching up on your writing in homeopathic doses....like saving up some of the fun dessert:)

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  48. The Fool...Where are they? A lot has to be stress and our screwed up priorities.

    Satish...Always loved those tiny sugared balls with that extra zing :)

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  49. Purba,

    A very thought provoking post. We surely tend to forget our near & dear ones in the rat race. One needs to keep proper balance in life. Work hard to achieve what one aims for but not at the cost of personal relationships. One should follow own conscience and if one can fall asleep the moment head hits pillow at night, that shows he or she has done what is best.

    Take care

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  50. Thought-provoking indeed! Came across this post a few days ago, and though I read it back then, thanks to my cranky net connection, I could manage to post the comment only today... I think the craving for that supreme bliss is omni-present... The craving to matter to someone at least for sometime, the craving to have made a difference....

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  51. Ask me! The boredom that I face living alone whole weekend..

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