Do You Get Bored?
Helpful facts that young people want to know
BOREDOM is a common problem among young people. Not that older persons do not also have to fight it. But young people frequently express themselves as finding life at home—or even life in general—dull, uninteresting. Why? What can be done about it?
True, the present system of things on the earth has robbed life of much of its variety and pleasantness, particularly in the large cities. Yet, within the very same set of circumstances, there are always some that manage to enjoy life, while others get bored. This shows that boredom is largely a matter of attitude.
Take homelife, for example. Every family has a personality. Even as one person cannot make a family, so, too, a family’s personality is not formed by any one person but by each member’s contributing something to the family’s composite personality. What is your family like? Is your home a warm, cheerful place? Do you enjoy one another, have interesting conversations at mealtimes, find pleasure in doing things together and for one another? Or does everyone go his or her separate way, with little interest in the others? Which way would you prefer it to be?
It is easy to blame others if things are not as we would like. But before complaining, why not first ask: “What do I myself contribute to the family personality and spirit? How much effort do I put forth to bring improvement?” If a ship is straining through stormy seas it does not help much for a sailor to sit in the corner complaining. It’s a case of ‘all hands on deck’ and of everyone’s lending his or her hand to keep the ship going through the rough seas to the desired goal.
Often bored young persons simply fail to see the value of the things they are given to do. Analyze your school assignments and the work assigned you at home. See why they are important by trying to discern how they affect your life (and the lives of others) both now and in the days to come. If you can do that you will be able to work at your assignments with a sense of purpose. This can make the difference between enjoying life and being bored.
Really, the very tasks we could find boring may build in us very vital qualities and habits—those that will, in the final analysis, play the largest part in our future success in life. As an illustration, as a young man have you ever built a model airplane? If so, you had to put the many pieces of the frame together first and afterward cover that frame. The frame might not even show in the finished product. But without the strength and design it gave, the airplane would have been worthless. Or, as a young woman, have you ever made a dress? The seams you sewed may not have showed when the dress was done. But without those hidden stitches there would have been no dress.
Likewise with so much that we learn in school, or learn through our work assignments at home. It is part of an overall pattern and can help to lay the foundation for future success. By doing simple and often unexciting assignments or chores, even repeatedly, we can learn endurance, determination, and gain inner strength.
What are we saying then? That there really is nothing wrong with the present system developed by this world and that it is just a matter of adjusting to it? Not at all. In fact, the hope that the Bible gives of seeing this present system end and a refreshing, righteous new system under the government of God’s Son come in—this is what can give us the incentive to endure. Young people can have a better prospect than that of just becoming a ‘cog in a machine’ of the present world setup. This hope of a better system is what also keeps many Christian parents from becoming bored with their daily work, for they, too, feel the pressures of modern living.
INITIATIVE AND A BROAD FIELD OF INTEREST
Frequently heard during periods of free time is the complaint, “There is nothing to do.” More often than not the problem is not a lack of interesting and worthwhile things to do, but a lack of initiative, imagination and thought. Or it may betray a very narrow field of interest.
The present system does not do much to encourage initiative. People today are accustomed to being spectators more than doers. They look at movies, television programs, listen to recorded music or watch others play in some sports contest.
This is a lot easier than doing things yourself, or learning how to do things. But in the long run it also contributes to boredom. It makes you very dependent on others to be entertained; it leaves you unable to do things yourself to make your life interesting. This is all right for babies—but not for maturing young men and women.
How broad is your field of interest? The list of wholesome activities and of worthwhile fields of knowledge to be explored is very big. Reading takes more effort than watching television. But it pays far higher dividends. There is no field of activity, no skill or trade, no place or people or animal that is not covered in books. And the more you read the greater your enjoyment of reading becomes, the greater your ability to absorb knowledge. But reading just to ‘kill time’ is not enough. You need to decide what is going to be of value. Then you can read with a goal in mind, one that can enrich the days ahead in your life, equip you to do things.
Of course, we are each distinct personalities. Not everyone enjoys doing the things that others enjoy. Some enjoy learning to work with wood, leather or metal, while others may prefer photography or vegetable gardening. Among girls, some may like cooking and baking while others get more enjoyment from sewing or hairdressing. But learning to do new things, and then developing ability to do quality work, brings genuine satisfaction, keeps life interesting.
When you find it hard to get enthusiastic about doing something in your own interest, why not do something for someone else? A task that might seem unappealing if you did it for yourself can take on real interest when you do it for another—a family member, a friend or, better yet, someone in need. This is deeply satisfying, and there is no end of opportunities. Perhaps what you do will be unexpected by the other person. The added element of surprise will increase your enjoyment in doing it.
Being interested in others is a powerful weapon against boredom. Many persons around us have a surprising fund of knowledge and experience in their minds, as well as fine qualities in their hearts—but you will never know unless you make the effort to find out. As the proverb says: “Counsel in the heart of a man is as deep waters, but the man of discernment is one that will draw it up.” (Prov. 20:5) Show interest, ask questions, tactfully probe, particularly among those who have years of experience in worthwhile things. You will be richly rewarded and the time will pass all too quickly.—Prov. 27:9, 17.
But besides what you can get in the way of benefit from others, what can you give? Do you express yourself, do you share with others what you have in your mind and heart?
Young people who are genuinely thrilled at God’s promise of a new order and who share this good news with others find that this gives added meaning to their lives. To find people, young or old, who are hungry for truth and to be able to help them is richly rewarding. And even the fact that such persons are outnumbered by those who reject truth does not dull the stimulating effect of this activity. Instead it makes it more challenging, even suspenseful.
Good companions also help fight boredom. But if your companions are the kind that easily get bored themselves because they have no worthwhile goal in life, they will just be a drag on you, hindering you in developing initiative and inner strength. They are like the stupid ones spoken of at Proverbs 17:24, with their eyes “at the extremity of the earth,” daydreaming of faraway things, their thoughts wandering here and there, but with no fixed goal before them.
Along with initiative, endurance and faith are big factors in conquering boredom. As the apostle Paul says of our service to God and to those who serve him, “Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.” (Gal. 6:9) Similarly, when we seek to develop abilities that have some real purpose and value, we should keep on until we begin to harvest some of the fruits of our labors.
Then, as time goes along, we can broaden our exploration of still other abilities to develop, with proper parental guidance and approval, and we will become better, more interesting and worthwhile persons as a result. With a bright hope for the future, life will not be boring.