How many times have you heard people complain that they are sick of the winter? I hear it a lot. They do it every year. It doesn’t really matter if it is a frigid, snowy winter or a mild one. When the weather turns cold, people complain about the cold…the ice…and the tedium of being stuck inside.
Then Spring comes, and it’s rainy. And people complain.
A long, hot summer…complain.
The fact is, life can get tedious and boring if you choose to look at it that way.
Does this sound familiar? After a long hard workweek, it’s nice to have a quiet weekend to rejuvenate, right? Not really, because then we say the weekend was boring.
It’s not that the weekend itself was boring. We simply choose to call it boring. Having some quiet time to allow your body and brain to reset after a hectic, nonstop week is vital to our mental and physical health.
It’s all in how we frame our lives…how we choose to perceive situations. In our activity-obsessed ADHD world, we have lost perspective on how to pace ourselves. We live overactive, overscheduled lives, and then we don’t know what to do when the pace slows down, so we say we are bored.
When my kids were young, “boring” was one of their most overused words. Do you want to play a game? No. Ride bikes? No. Do an art project? No. Help me cook dinner? No.
It’s not that those things were truly boring. Instead, that repetitive motion results in a been-there-done-that tedium, which in the overactive minds and distorted perceptions of modern-day children—and adults—translates to “boring.”
I fell into the trap myself last week when I was being interviewed about my role here at Bottom Line. I was asked about the things I love and don’t love about my job. In spite of the fact that I have the greatest job in the world in terms of diversity of activity, interesting subject matter, the satisfaction of doing good for the world and the amazing team of people I work with, I still commented that some aspects of my job are less fun than others, and some are less creative and often feel tiresome. My shorthand phrasing—some parts are “boring.” Shame on me!
At the root of it, I don’t think it’s about the boredom as much as it is about attitude. We are programmed to complain, and we are surrounded by negative Nellies at every corner. Broadcast news is never good—it’s only about the negative aspects of life. But as with everything, it really is all about the attitude we bring to a situation. If we start an activity and already have decided that it will be boring and tedious, then it will be boring and tedious. If we decide that we hate the rain, then the rain will be a misery.
So let’s see if we can flip that.
Focus on the small details that excite you. I am fascinated by how time flies when I am truly focused on the details of a situation. Even with high-level repetitive tasks, the details always change, and that’s where the surprising stories or unique elements are found. Analyzing numbers can be tedious, or they can be a new investigation to uncover surprising customer behaviors.
Connect to the piece that you love about it. There is a reason that we all did something for the first time. Remind yourself of the raw passion that prompted you to start that job or task.
Connect to the outcome. Sometimes it’s not about the task but about the outcome. Crocheting a blanket is a highly repetitive task, but the finished blanket will provide beauty and warmth for someone. The same goes for cleaning out the garage and, of course, exercise. Sure, there are some days when I don’t feel like working out on the elliptical again, but I know that 45 minutes later I will feel fit and proud.
Have a sense of humor. No matter what, a little laughter helps, especially in relationships. Feel like you’re in a rut with your partner? Have some fun. Do something wacky. Break out of your mold. And don’t wait for him/her to suggest something. It takes only one person to change a pattern, and the only one you really can control is you. Theater people regularly “prank“ one another as a way to avoid the monotony of repetitive performances.
Make it a game. If I decide that today I am going to try to get the grumpy lady at the deli to smile when I stop in to get my coffee, then I’ve made it an interesting game with a potentially fun outcome. Or perhaps there are new driving routes with new streets to discover on my way to and from the office…and challenges that can be set for work teams that create a fun competition in the midst of the day-to-day processes—for example, the last person to arrive at a meeting has to write up the minutes.
Appreciate the routine. Rather than fight life’s routine, embrace it. There actually can be something very comforting and relaxing about completing certain repetitive tasks. Sometimes boring is a blessing.
Stop complaining. This is probably the biggest factor. We live to complain. That’s tedious unto itself. Motivational author and speaker Louise Hay used to say that every thought we have and every word we say create our future, sending messages to every cell in our bodies. What would happen if you simply chose not to complain?
Life is what we create it to be. Remember, only you can create your life and only you can choose to have it be engaging and fascinating. I will admit, however, that there is indeed one place that I Iove describing as boring—when I fly someplace. I never want an exciting, story-filled tale of travel. Boring and on-time suit me just fine when getting from here to there.