Conquering Boredom

“Watching the World Pass By” Photo by Rachel Davies

Boredom is apparently one of the major reasons people don’t want to live forever.

So says Jonathan Weiner, the author of the book Long for this World: The Strange Science of Immortality. He raised this issue in a fascinating interview he gave to National Public Radio.  Weiner’s book is about physical immortality – and he’s not talking about old people living longer.  He’s talking about scientists who are working on extending vitality forever – scientists who believe, essentially, that aging is a disease that can be cured.

We’ve been talking to several people lately about resolving boredom, but it was surprising to hear boredom cited as an argument against immortality.  Or, put another way, an argument in favor of having an end – an end that is in the very distant future, to be sure, but an end nonetheless.

To be clear: We believe that Spirit is immortal.  So we don’t think it’s possible to really have an end – at least not in a spiritual sense.

But the whole idea that a person can get bored with living forever really speaks to how they are living their life right now.

Boredom is the suppression of two of our basic human drives – curiosity and creativity.  These are the qualities we should be looking to preserve forever.  Children are great teachers in this – They are curious because everything is new.  Everything is a novelty.  And their creativity is rampant – A cardboard box is a treasure!  It contains worlds!  It has more life and potential than toys you buy at the store for hundreds of dollars.

Some people keep that curiosity and creativity alive and it invigorates them.  But many people lose it along the way.  They become discouraged and impatient.  And bored.

Discouragement comes from holding beliefs that contradict your wants and desires –  Beliefs that limit possibility.  And impatience is the attachment to an outcome at the expense of the present moment.  It’s a belief that things are “not good enough” now.  It’s the fear that you won’t get what you want.  So you lose interest.  And the habits of thought that lead to boredom become pervasive.

You lose the habit of seeing the potential in things.

And that’s what you want to ignite again.

Resolving boredom isn’t just about doing new things.  It’s about seeing things anew.  It’s about having confidence in uncertainty, in order to explore the mystery of life.  It about renewing your belief in possibility.  Then you see beauty and novelty all around you.  And you feel the energy flowing through you.

That’s when life really gets interesting.  Maybe even worth living forever.

Photo by Rachel Davies on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0