“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” — Blaise Pascal
I should print this quote on a t-shirt.
I’m the poster child of “man’s inability to sit quietly.” I’ve wasted most of my twenties because of it. Boredom made feel as if my brain was melting inside my skull, and not interacting with people, as an ambivert, made feel as if my mind was degrading to the point of me losing all social skills, and for this reason, I’ve developed a set of bad habits, addictions, hung out with the wrong crowd, and became notoriously anxious and depressed.
Solitude, especially the kind that is most productive, is an art. I’ve yet to master it, but here’s what I learned so far.
Only Boring People Get Bored
Boredom is often the mental discomfort of not liking yourself enough. Utter and inconsolable solitude allows you to confront your true self.
It’s not that we’re addicted to Netflix and chill on the couch or do finger gymnastics on social media until we fall asleep, but rather we’re addicted to a state that doesn’t require self-awareness at all.
Self-awareness is quite painful.
After all, how much time do people who hate how they look spend in front of a mirror?
We just can’t sit still because this requires that we spend this time by ourselves, with nothing but our own thoughts for company.
Therefore, we look for something to take our mind off things, whether it’s addictions, habits, the company of others, or loud music.
We ignore the fact that never spending time alone, in a quiet room, is the same as never getting to know our true selves.
And the road to the hell we call “loneliness” is paved with the broken souls of all those who never spent enough time to know themselves.
Falling in Love With Boredom
The only way to fall in love with boredom is to face your fear of having to confront your true self.
You must go down the rabbit hole, embark on this strange and perilous odyssey of feeling as if your brain is melting away under the weight of such terrible loneliness.
And, yes, you are going to have to listen to yourself think, and there’s no telling where this might lead you.
The beauty of this is that it doesn’t take long for you to realize that being alone isn’t so bad. After a while, you can learn how to use boredom to your advantage.
When you spend time by yourself, within the confines of a quiet and empty room, you become intimately acquainted with your self, your desires, goals, and aspirations.
Inspiration, I find, lies on the other side of boredom.
A quiet room allows you to explore the most hidden depths of your soul.
Just imagine how much information you have stored there.
Falling in love with boredom allows you to discover all the ideas that your subconscious mind has accumulated.
The Boredom of Showing Up Every Day
Success is the sum of small efforts repeated daily.
This is quite a boring task.
But the truth is that little by little, a little always becomes a lot.
Somehow, successful people manage to fall in love with boredom, show up to do the work every single day, and get that 1% increase in skill.
And this is the trick, this is how you fall in love with boredom.
Fall in Love With the Process of Progress
Let’s say you dislike writing articles, but you know it’s an important aspect of building a brand or an online community.
If you want to fall in love with the boredom of punching those damn keys, then you must fall in love with the process of progress.
People often get bored when they think that they’ve peaked. There are no other areas they can improve.
That’s when the daily task of doing the work will begin to feel monotonous.
On the other hand, the uphill battle of learning a skill you’re not proficient at is anything but boring. It may be frustrating, but it’s certainly not boring.
If you want to fall in love with the boredom of completing small daily tasks, you need to look for ways in which you can progress.
Aim for a 1% improvement, but always try to find something that you can improve upon.
What if this doesn’t work anymore?
Michelangelo is credited as saying that he was still learning at the age of 80, but, well… in case there’s no more progress to aim for, you can always visualize the result to give you a bit of extra motivation.
If the task is boring, spending a few minutes daydreaming about the result usually does the trick.
When I don’t feel like working out, I imagine myself enjoying the beach body I’ve always wanted.
These two tricks have one goal: to turn work into a game.
We hate work, but we love to play games.
And there are two main reasons you play a game:
- To get better at it.
- To win.
So, if you find yourself dreading the work you must do to complete a task, either aim for improvement or visualize the result.
Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. It’s rare, but it happens. When that happens, I imagine the article being read by people. I visualize the way it’s going to look on my blog’s homepage. I visualize looking at the stats.
This keeps me going.
It has taken me most of my twenties to fall in love with boredom.
But I’ve become rather good at it, so much so that I often turn boredom into a game.
The boring act of being consistent? That’s a winning streak. I get a reward out of it. And I never miss a day, whether it’s working out or punching those keys.
Fun fact: I could never quite write unless there was something to distract me. Loud music, or the TV, or something. I now want silence. I now want to spend time alone, to think, to imagine, to plan.
It’s not boring if you need it to think.