Monday, June 15, 2009

In praise of boredom

"I'm bored."

Who among us has not heard these two simple syllables (or uttered them)? Indeed, boredom seems a universal human affliction, and we have created entire industries (sports, movies, television, etc.) in hopes of banishing it from our lives. It is worth questioning, however, exactly what we find so repellent about being bored. Said a different way...what's wrong with doing nothing?

In fact, boredom is not only universally human - it may be uniquely so. After all, when was the last time you saw a cat look bored? Cats (and many other species) instead seem to revel in their boredom, lazily licking a paw, gazing drowsily at a sunbeam, or otherwise enjoying their complete lack of anything to do. Most people, on the other hand, view laying about as a sort of character deficiency - a horrid state of affairs to be avoided at all costs.

We could go into the reasons for why this is so (eg, societal pressure, genetic evolution that has favored high "achievers" over those who choose to lay on the beach), but what would be the point? We find it more useful to humbly suggest you question the human obsession with activity, rethink your innate distrust of boredom, and embrace your inner laziness!

"Just as great and princely wealth is scattered in a moment when it comes into the hands of a bad owner, while wealth however limited, if it is entrusted to a good guardian, increases by use, so our life is amply long for him who orders it properly."--Lucius Annaeus Seneca

1 comment:

  1. Or, is experiencing boredom, as Joseph Goldstein has said, "simply a 'lack of attention'"?