Tedium vitae?

‘You must master your time rather than becoming a slave to the constant flow of events and demands on your time. And you must organize your life to achieve balance, harmony, and inner peace’ ~ Brian Tracy.

Tedium vitae’ is a Latin expression meaning a weariness for life, weariness being a mix of feeling burned out, helplessness, incapacitated, emptiness and the failure of surrounding stimuli to hold our attention. The word ‘boredom’ emerged in the English language in 1852 in the 9th Charles Dickens novel Bleak House, in which Dickens described it as a ‘chronic malady’ – a pathological state. Which is spot-on when boredom of life can be a pointer towards depression, when life hits a plateau and there is no longer any driving force in our lives that makes us feel alive. Being wrapped up in boredom can stop us reaching out and enjoying life to the full, blinding us to opportunity and fulfillment if we accept this state of mind – which is relayed perfectly in the Buddhist saying, ‘When you are bored, you have drawn a curtain between yourself and the potential of the moment’. I also think this is true of procrastination, when living in the moment is delayed.

Boredom has also been deemed a ‘typical phenomenon of modernity’ by Lars Svendsen, which I can understand. I think in modern times we expect to be on-the-go and have devices at hand to constantly work-out our minds, we are bombarded by information . When we’re withdrawn from this we seek stimulation to alleviate boredom.

What prompted this thought was a book I was reading:

I never quite understood people who are bored. There is too much to do on this planet, too many places to visit, passions to quench, people to enjoy conversations with, things to learn and master, experiences to have, challenges to embrace and books/movies to see/read. This book highlights this, there is far too many natural wonders in the world I will never have enough time to stand awe-struck by them all. I love dipping into this book and playing ‘if I had all the time/money in the world’. Despite all my big ideas I have let the words ‘I’m bored’ slip out my mouth at some time or another.

Boredom and being busy are two ends of the same continuum. They are both energy-sapping states – boredom due to not being challenged or intellectually/physically stimulated and busyness can leave us feeling fatigued when our brain has adapted to repeated patterns of activity. Sometimes I forget that being busy can be just as harmful to an individual as being bored. When I have walked around the city looking at workers making a dash home or enjoying their lunch breaks I do wonder if they’re bored of their jobs, do they crave something else and how satisfied they feel with their lives.

I always thought being bored was the worst of the two. At least when my memo pad was full I felt a sense of purpose and that my mind was always occupied. But maybe being stuck in a loop of continuous tasks 5 days a week is equally as deadly for the soul. Going through life in a tedious daze is no way to live. I think that’s where constantly challenging and variety falls up high on my perfect job list. But recognising you are bored or leading an unfulfilled life is half the battle because then you can pass ‘through boredom into fascination’ (Diane Arbus). It is a sign that we’re ready for something new in our lives. So how can we get out of finding ourselves in this boredom state?

Action plan:

  • Keep curious and questioning, it makes us want to find out more about the world around us, actively researching a subject of interest feels productive and makes you smarter. Win-win.
  • Having a creative outlet to channel thoughts – blogging, poetry, musical, dance, write a novel – it makes us think in a different ways, come up with new ideas.
  • Stretch your mind through problem solving.
  • You get 132 days off every year including paid holidays, bank holidays and weekends. Plan them out in advance to get the most out of them. Sure you only receive so many consecutive weeks for long distance but weekends away to another city or state are do-able.  Planning for the future not only means the plans are in place so you can’t back out of them but anticipating a well-earned break is proven to be good for our wellbeing.

  • Donate time to charity and volunteer work.
  • Inspired by Lifehacker – prioritise tasks to carry out the most vital so less attention is paid to those of lowest priority as well as reorganising tasks and duties in a new way to add a bit of novelty to the routine.
  • Be inspired by other bloggers’ bucketlists, top book lists and 1001 things to do in 101 days lists.
  • Live in the moment – take a moment to contemplate what you’re actually doing right now even if you’re busy or bored. Is it mentally stimulating, make you happy, do you feel accomplished and happy? If not, change what you’re doing.
  • Check the nearest museums for their latest exhibitions.
  • Be social. Arrange a coffee date with someone you need to catch up with. Send a postcard to a family member you rarely see. Postcrossing. Send a letter to a college/childhood friend/penpal.

The second prompt for my post came from my current situation. A whole lot of waiting around. I’m in a place with a lot more possibilities than I have been in a long while, yet I’m not sure where the possibilities are. Yet more waiting. I’m trying not to be bored whilst I find them. Or waiting for a thumbs up or down from Foothills hospital for work experience. Or waiting for the working day to end so I’m not all alone in the city or apartment.

I read somewhere that being busy is when too much is happening and our attention is involuntarily snatched from us – the source of frustrations. But being bored is when we’re waiting for things to happen that we have an involuntary void in our lives. With that in mind, it seems the way to escape this is to make things happen. So makes things happen.



Filed under Canada, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, Personal Development

6 responses to “Tedium vitae?

  1. I feel so stupid! I keep looking at your page, seeing Feb 1 and the same thing at the top and being sad thinking you hadn’t updated. THEN I scrolled down today and saw new stuff. Now I have to go catch up tomorrow. But just so you know, since you rock You’ve been given an award by Me. 🙂 http://wp.me/pRnQo-ad

    • I try and write something crazy new every 3 days, my 1st Feb post is an introduction disguised as a post. More my bad 😦

      Thank you so so much for your lovely award *honored* I’m in the process of writing an acceptance post which has been a long time coming!

  2. Julie

    Every week, I try to keep in touch with my UCLA alumni who happen to live in SD, relocated to SD (just like me) or people who are visiting SD–I’ll make them see me. I even have some high school classmates who go to a university in SD so I try to see them too. I actually do want to do some weekend travelling to like go to the Bay Area and visit friends because I’ve never been to the Bay Area and its only a very short plane ride away.

    I’ve been doing some postcards writing–not just with postcrossing to someone in a random part of the world but also friends who requested or an old friend who needs a smile. Like my friend recently got out of a marriage and i told her I’d send her a postcard because I not only she gets nice message but also a pretty picture too.

    • You reminded me I need to update my contact details on Sheff Uni Pure Science alumni.
      I’ve been hinting to friends that they really need to come over to see Western Canada, I’m thinking of issuing a hypnosis tape to send them. I guess that’s the problem with being so far away it’s a huge chunk of time to take out of their holiday allowance when they probably dream of a beach holiday. Saying that one of my high school German class buddies might come to Calgary for a conference as he works in oil and gas which is neat! It’s brilliant you have some of your alumni and high school buddies not too too far away.

      I’m still loving Postcrossing, and we all know who I have to thank for getting me involved 😉

  3. it’s all fate. meditate. you’re doing great. 🙂 [i just liked how that rhymed. lol]

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