Mindfulness = Antidote to Boredom

Watch this video called “The Money Tree” and then ask yourself how much of life you’re missing out on.  You might not see a money tree, but you may be missing something even more important.   No moment of life has to be boring.

In fact, if you think something is boring, take a second look.  Look deeply into your experience as if for the first time.  This is the power of mindfulness.  The ordinary can still be ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.  We miss so much of the wonder all around us because we have become deadened to our lives.  And, unless we are being entertained by something we quickly lose interest.   We already think we know what something is going to be like so we stop examining and we quit being curious.  This is the quickest way to become bored!

But boredom is under our control.  Rather than observing experience through the filter of our beliefs, assumptions, expectations, and desires, mindfulness involves using curiosity and interest in what’s happening  as if for the first time, a quality that is often referred to as ‘‘beginner’s mind.” (Bishop, et al., Clinical Psychologiy: Science and Practice, May 2006).

This entails waking up to all the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and experiences that arise from moment to moment with not only curiosity, but with a stance of acceptance.  So, in other words, you aren’t judging what you are experiencing (and then labeling it boring), but you deciding to be with things just as they are.  Acceptance is defined as being experientially open to the reality of the present moment (Roemer & Orsillo, 2002) and this stance takes something from the normal to the fascinating.

I’m always fascinated when someone tells me that they are bored or that something is boring.   I recently gave a presentation to a group of people and we were talking about the importance of exercise.  One person raised his hand and said he walks on the treadmill and “it’s boring!”  Since I prefer walking outdoors, I asked him if he had ever walked on the beautiful walking trail that we have in Columbia.   He said that was boring, too.  So, I suggested that he try walking it again with a dose of mindfulness the next time.  I encouraged him to be aware of the different kinds of trees and flowers, notice the people and animals, notice the scents that are in the air, the sensation of the air against his skin.  I encouraged him to feel his body fully as he moved from step to step and even, perhaps, have a sense of gratitude for the body that allows him to take a walk.  A simple walk can be incredibly rich with sensation and pleasure if you’re really present for it.  He seemed to really like this idea and I hope he followed up on it.

Bring mindfulness to your life whenever you are tempted to call something boring.  Find out what you’re missing!