Thursday, December 14, 2006

have you ever been bored?

How often do you find yourself bored? You are in a meeting, or a hallway, or a party. Someone else is talking. You listen and nod. You listen and squirm. You're not really listening, but you are held in place, a butterfly pinned to a board. Minutes pass - very slowly. You squirm and try to focus on thoughts of your own. You check your watch. You sigh.

Give yourself a shake and ask yourself: in a life where time is not a renewable resource, why on earth do you allow yourself to be bored? Although you do not know what the limit will be, you do know that the thoughts you can think are finite: why would you waste something you can neither supplement nor replace?

There are only two ways to be bored: the first is to refuse to enter into someone else's enthusiasm. You have all the abilities (natural and developed) that you need to notice and respond to someone else's excitement or intensity. You can accept their train of thought, match their body language, expression and gestures, and pretend that you are feeling what they are feeling. That's not hard. It's actually harder to stay separate from what they are feeling. If you are bored in the presence of someone who is energetically explaining, it's because you do not want to enter into that state of energy. If it's a useful state, you should enter it.

If it's a negative state (the person is energetically angry, tense or intolerant), you should stay out of it. If you are conscious of staying out, you will be uncomfortable and focused. You will not be bored.

The second way to be bored is to connect with someone who is, himself (or herself) bored. Don't do it. You have the strengths, capabilities and responsibility to maintain your natural enthusiasm in your limited time. If a teacher, presenter, boss or colleague is bored, stay out of connection. Don't make eye contact; don't mirror their body language; don't let their rhythms become your rhythms. If you're already connected, moving back into your own more energetic, focused state might even lead the other person into a better state of mind.

The butterfly pinned to the board is stuck. You are free to fly.

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