Lissa Rankin M.D.

Owning Pink

When Your Greatest Fear Is Boredom

Embracing Gratitude

Posted Sep 03, 2013

“Mama… I’m BORED.”

“You have an entire bedroom full of toys, a whole art table full of art supplies, a hundred books you could read, and four kids in the neighborhood dying to play with you. How can you possibly be bored?”

It’s enough to make every mom roll her eyes. Yet, I can’t quite bring myself to get irritated with my daughter, not only because I’m young enough to remember what it was like to a kid, but because, even now, one of my greatest fears in life is that I’ll wind up bored.

I remember, when I was in medical school, telling people I’d probably grow bored with medicine in ten years and wind up going to law school. I figured, after ten years of practicing law, I’d maybe take up journalism or work for a publishing company.

Only eight years passed before I quit my job as a doctor, but by then, I had already started another career as a professional artist. And since then, I’ve also started writing books, blogging, and running a business as an online entrepreneur. Clearly, I was a bit prescient.

I also grew… not so much bored, but just plain unhappy… with my first marriage after four years. I broke up with my second husband on our two year anniversary. (Third time’s a charm – we’ve been together for ten years now. Phew.) I’d like to say that our relationship is working because Matt’s far from boring, but while this is true, I think the success of our relationship has more to do with my attitude than anything else. This time, I chose to focus on the good stuff, rather than complaining about the bad – a surefire way to take power over your life, rather than feeling like the victim or blaming something or someone else for being “boring.”

Boredom Is My Nightmare

When I read the book The Wisdom of the Enneagram and discovered that my personality type is a Seven, I laughed. Apparently, Sevens fear boredom more than anything and, left unchecked, create lives of constant stimulation. I felt totally busted, and realized how much control I have over whether or not I feel bored.

I mean I have the best life ever. I live on the ocean where the mountains and redwoods meet the beach in the most gorgeous place on earth. I am married to a loving, whip smart, hysterically funny, hunk-of-a-hubby. My daughter is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. I love my mother, brother, and sister and had the best Dad in the world before I lost him. I have incredible friends. I absolutely adore my job and am blessed to get to write books, mentor visionaries, blog, create online programs, and do what I can to change the world in my own unique way.

I get to travel to awesome places. I have my health, as do those I love most.

So why in the world am I so afraid of being bored?

Embracing Gratitude

I’ve realized there’s a dark side to boredom. Boredom implies that you’re not grateful for what you already have. The shadow side of boredom is that whatever blessings you have, they’re never enoughwhen you allow yourself to succumb to boredom. You’re always seeking the next thrill, the next win, the next love, the next source of external validation – outside of yourself.

I’ve come to realize that, as long as I’m looking outside myself for stimulation, I’ll always be disappointed. I’ve noticed, however, that when I’m able to focus on the present and approach my life from a place of gratitude, my mindset shifts from one of lack to one of bounty, and when I’m viewing my life as bountiful, I’m never bored.

Taking Risks

I’ve also realized that life starts feeling more boring when I allow my fears (I call my fears “The Gremlin”to  take charge of my life. When I feel stuck, disempowered, or victimized, I often start feeling bored. But when I remember that I – and I alone – am responsible for my life, that I always have choice, I’m able to shift back into gratitude and appreciate what I have, rather than complaining about what I don’t.

Whether what you find boring is something as big as a dead end job or a bad relationship or whether it’s as trivial as feeling bored with tedious task or waiting at the doctor’s office, remember that you’re bored – because you choose to be.

Feeling victimized – as if you can’t leave your dead end job or your bad relationship, as if you can’t choose to outsource your tedious task or reschedule your doctor’s appointment or choose to see the good in a bad situation – leaves you feeling powerless. The more powerful choice is to allow boredom to be an opportunity to either take risks and make change – or change your attitude.

Remember, you may not be able to control everything that happens to you. It’s not your fault if your plane is delayed and you get stuck at the airport without a book to read. But it’s your choice how you respond to the “boring” situation.

Many of us are afraid to take responsibility for our lives because ending the boredom would require major change. Bored in your relationship but scared to get out? Bored in your job but scared to quit? Bored at the doctor’s office but unwilling to ask to be seen sooner, reschedule, or change your attitude?

Sometimes relieving boredom requires facing what makes you unhappy and taking proactive steps to change your life. That might feel scary. Your Gremlin might go ballistic. But keep in mind, ultimately,it’s your choice.

Are You Bored?

Or are you grateful for your life as it is?

Are you afraid? And if so, what do you fear more – the monotony of boredom or the uncertainty of change?

Do you tend to stave off boredom by instigating drama, shaking things up, taking risks, moving a lot, changing relationships frequently, and pursuing various career choices?

Or do you make attempts to prevent uncertainty by choosing security, stability, and the warm comfort of the “certain” world (I use quotes because nothing in life is really certain)?

Whatever your tendency, let me reassure you, dear ones.

Whether your life is smooth sailing or choppy waters, you can always call upon your Inner Pilot Light to help you feel safe. Even when life gets monotonous, this radiant part of you will be your excitement. When life gets uncertain, your Inner Pilot Light will be your rock.

Right now, I’m at the airport, waiting on a delayed flight – again. But instead of choosing to feel bored, I’m choosing to feel grateful I have a good book, a healthy 6 year old daughter at my side, and a new puppy to take home.

Is it time to take action to make your life less boring? Or is it time to change your attitude? Tell us how you feel.

Focusing on gratitude,