Is Boredom A Spiritual Issue?

bored man | ace-d
I am wondering if boredom and hating routine is a spiritual issue and how to manage this. I am getting bored easily and leaning towards acting stupidly. I also desire to be committed to a wife one day and I am scared I will get bored of her. Any tips? Much appreciated.

It’s insightful that you connect boredom with the soul, because these two concepts are linked, although perhaps not in the way you’re imagining. The kind of boredom you’re describing often results from your internal elements–especially your subconscious mind and your soul feeling insufficiently stimulated.

God has equipped every human mind with an incredible array of skills. There is no such thing as a “dumb” human being. Even those who we view as mentally impaired due to the fact that they seem to struggle with certain kinds of behaviors are not as deficient as we assume. Instead of thinking of humans (and yourself) as having different quantities of a single type of intelligence, it’s more accurate to think of humans as having a variety of intellectual specialties.

The labels of “stupid” or “slow” often get attached to us in settings where everyone is being graded by a very limited set of intellectual tests–such as written exams in school or a certain skill used at a specific job site. This kind of system is like trying to assess everyone’s musical ability by making them all play the violin. Those who struggle with that instrument get labeled “slow” or “stupid” while those who easily catch on get labeled as “smart”. The problem here is that someone who struggles with the violin might be amazing with the flute or piano. To grade everyone according to a single, very limited measuring system fails to give us an accurate picture of their true potential.

Now by the time you find yourself feeling as bored as you do, it’s often a case of your life circumstances landing you in a position where you feel forced to learn the wrong instrument. Maybe you’re a natural virtuoso on the piano, only you don’t realize this because you’ve never encountered a piano. Meanwhile, your current routine has you limited to constantly practicing skills that simply don’t interest you. So you feel bored and antsy, and you start doing things that you know are foolish out of a desperate need to make your life feel interesting again. Is there a solution to this? Yes. You need to adjust your circumstances to allow room for you to start doing activities that make you feel fulfilled.

Your soul needs to feel like your life has a point to it. Your soul has its own opinions about what makes a certain activity “meaningful.” To some people, trying to learn a new language is a very satisfying endeavor. To others, the same activity feels tedious and pointless. To some people, creating their own paintings feels very meaningful. To others, such an activity seems ridiculous.

Every human is designed by God to feel internally drawn towards certain ideas and goals. There is a often a strong link between what we really like and what we are naturally skilled at. In general, humans simply don’t enjoy doing stuff that they don’t feel they have any talent for. But being naturally good at something is just one piece of the puzzle. Often a truly satisfying activity will also have a hearty dose of challenge to it. Humans quickly lose interest in doing things that seem too easy. This is why we outgrow our childhood toys. As we develop mentally and spiritually, toys that were fun when we were kids cease to challenge us at our current level of development, so we become bored by them.

Some of us feel like we don’t have permission to pursue the things that really interest us. When other humans scoff at the idea of us pursuing certain activities, or pressure us into doing things that utterly bore us, we often end up feeling trapped into committing to things that we really don’t find stimulating. In these situations, it often takes a focused effort to get in touch with your true interests. When we spend years trying to deny our true feelings, it can take a while for us to reconnect with ourselves. But if you make an effort, that reconnection will occur. A good place to start is to sit down by yourself with a paper and pen. Then jot down any thoughts that come to mind as you think about these questions:

  • What is my idea of a “satisfying life”? What kinds of experiences do I want to have had by the time I die? Which of those experiences can I start pursuing now?
  • Are there any activities or subjects I’ve always wanted to pursue but never have?
  • What am I naturally good at? What comes easily to me? What kinds of activities/hobbies/jobs use those kinds of skills?
  • What kinds of activities give me a sense of personal accomplishment? How can I work more of those into my life?
  • When I think about my “ideal” self–the man I wish that I could be–what are the differences between who he is and who I am today? How can I start working on minimizing some of those differences?

The subconscious part of your mind is where all of your intellectual skills are. Meanwhile, your soul wants to feel like the activities you’re engaging in have some higher purpose to them. These two elements are happiest when both are getting their preferences met. That means pursuing an activity that feels both meaningful to your soul and doable to your mind. If you only focus on one element’s preferences, you can end up feeling quite miserable. For example, your soul might be attracted to the idea of going on some solo spiritual awakening journey in which it’s just you and God hanging out in the wilderness. But unless your mind feels equipped to protect and provide for you in that kind of environment, it’s going to throw up a lot of resistance. Or suppose your mind is extremely skilled at math, and it finds it fun to sit for hours working on mathematical formulas. If your soul doesn’t see any value to those formulas, it’s going to be in a grumbling huff the whole time. It’s not fun trying to do an activity when one of your elements is constantly griping. While it’s very important to give both your mind and soul opportunities to feel refreshed, activities that only please one element need to be limited to shorter sessions. A session of focused spiritual meditation can be very refreshing to the soul, but if you try to do it for too long, your mind will become bored and start interfering with your ability to focus. Delving into a book that your mind finds enticing can be a great mental recharge, but if your soul can’t get into the story as well, it will start acting restless if you read for too long. Balance is the key to keeping your internal being feeling recharged and content, and your current frustration demonstrates that things are not in balance for you right now. The good news is that this kind of thing is often easier to fix than it seems. By understanding the core problem (a lack of stimulation for either your mind, soul, or both), you can be strategic about pinpointing a solution.

Now since you have noticed that “acting stupidly” is one of your current responses to feeling bored, I’d say that your mind is at least one of the unhappy elements. Your soul is the part of you that is disapproving of the “stupid” things you’re doing, which means your soul isn’t the one pushing you to do them. Instead, your mind is the element trying to come up with ways to feel stimulated. Since your mind doesn’t care about morality, it has no qualms about chasing after any form of entertainment it can find when it feels very frustrated. To fix this negative response, you need to be purposeful about identifying something that would feel mentally satisfying to you. By taking some time to reflect on the questions I listed above, you will probably find that your mind will be pretty quick to supply some suggestions. The key here is to not underestimate your own intelligence level. You are capable of doing a lot more than you think you are, so don’t be afraid to start pursuing a new activity even if it seems very complex. Complex skills can be learned when you break them down into small steps. Once you identify a subject that you’re interested in, look for some good instructional material on it in the version your mind prefers (written, audio, visual, etc.). Then see how it goes. If you’ve got a match, your mind will respond eagerly to the new information and want to keep pursuing it. If instead you find yourself feeling bored again, do another session of brainstorming and wait for your mind to prompt you with a new suggestion.

So what about a future wife? Does the fact that you feel so restless today mean you are incapable of committing to a longterm relationship? Not at all. But getting married is not a cure for the kind of issue you’re dealing with. While a spouse will definitely introduce new challenges and benefits into your life, she can’t make you feel satisfied in the core of your being. That is an issue that every human has to put effort into handling for themselves. This is why it’s so important for marriages to leave room for both spouses to still pursue their personal interests. While marriage certainly changes what kinds of activities are appropriate to pursue and how much time we can commit to them, there still has to be some room for individual expression. For example, an extroverted person who gets recharged by socializing with other people needs room to do that even after they are married. Extroverts typically need to interact with groups of people to feel sufficiently charged–just hanging out with their spouse all day won’t do it. At the same time, introverted people who recharge by being alone need time to do that as well. If an introvert marries an extrovert, their built in core needs will be very different in some areas, and they will have to put effort into making room for one person to go socialize while another gets a good dose of solo time.

Figuring out what your core interests and needs are before you get married is going to really help you make wiser choices in the dating world. Finding a woman whose core needs are similar to your own will automatically eliminate a lot of problems. Two spouses who both love to read, for example, will have an easy time carving out time for that activity in their marriage. Some activities can be done together and still be satisfying, while others cannot. If you hate traveling, you shouldn’t marry a woman who is yearning to see the world. If you love philosophy, you’ll be much happier with a woman who enjoys intellectual discussions than with one who finds that kind of thinking painfully boring. The better you know yourself, the more equipped you’ll be to recognize a woman who is a good match for you.

As you move through life, your interests will naturally change. A few core interests will stay with you until the end, but many others will shift about. Learning how to deal with these shifts by taking time to re-calibrate is a great skill to have in your toolbox. That is what you have the opportunity to do now. Instead of just pressing on feeling miserable, realize that your current routine needs some adjusting. It doesn’t mean you have to do something drastic like move across the country or chuck your job. Often this kind of boredom will quickly vanish once you start introducing even small sessions of a new activity that truly piques your interest. The first step is to sit down and listen for your mind and soul to speak up about what they’d like to pursue. The second step is to start figuring out practical ways to introduce some of those activities into your current routine. Routines that stifle us often become exciting once we insert the right activities into them.

This post was written in response to a request.

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