Boredom or Depression?


Despite our having more sources of entertainment than ever before in the history of our species, we find ourselves in an epidemic of depression.  Why should this be?  For one thing, we have become (are becoming) strangers to ourselves.  We pay so much attention to bull**** it’s no wonder we don’t know ourselves, and this despite the availability of more knowledge about our organism than ever before.

Much of what passes for depression today might, more accurately, be called boredom.  Boredom is not a mental disorder and we can’t expect the doctor to give us a pill for it.  We have to take responsibility for it ourselves.  So, depression is a better, more honorable condition that can be blamed on forces beyond our control.  We don’t have to admit our boredom.  And, we don’t have to do anything about it.  Just take a pill.

Boredom does not result from a lack of stimulation.  Plenty of intelligent people live very simple, routine lives without being bored.  On the other hand, some people have the world at their fingertips but still don’t feel interested or engaged.  The real source of boredom is our own minds.

If we interpose a layer of thought, our own or someone else’s, between events and our experience of those events, we remove ourselves from life.  Consequently, we experience life less vividly and with less personal involvement.  Life becomes what someone tells us it is.  We lose the direct involvement that keeps us engaged.  Furthermore, the thought that comes between, if, indeed, it is our own, is usually a defensive thought, one we use to shore up our self-image.  And our self-image is generally a distortion having only a cursory relationship with any objective reality.  Most often we either embellish ourselves, casually and without any analysis or we diminish ourselves through overwhelming, habitual humility and the fear that we cannot engage with life directly and on life’s terms.

We tell ourselves and others little lies that help us maintain the illusion that we are either who we think we should be or who we fear we might be.  Each time we portray ourselves as something we are not, we remove ourselves from the true experience of life, deadening ourselves to our own life.

Every time we manipulate reality to enhance or diminish our self-image we lose some of the natural enthusiasm, the out-reaching energy that makes life enjoyable.  Instead of reaching out, we allow the world, much of it in the form of stories written by others, to reach in.  Some paradox!  By trying to make ourselves look better we make ourselves feel worse.  By believing our own distortions we add more distortion.

I think we can say with no hesitation that boredom is the direct result of our misguided efforts to maintain the status quo, no matter how routine, repetitive or delusional.  We are loathe to give up any portion of our comfort in order to seek some challenge, to push our limits.  The reason for this is simply fear; we are afraid of the unfamiliar.  We’re afraid we will be found wanting, incapable of coping with the new requirements and unable to retreat to safely.  This is the case whether we are embellishing or diminishing.  Remember, this is all defensive.

No wonder we’re bored!  We should be bored—bored with ourselves.  If this feels like depression that seems only natural.  A pill may help you feel better but it won’t solve the problem and as soon as you stop taking the pills you’ll be right back where you started.

A better choice might be to try to develop some courage, push your envelope a bit and discover what it’s like on the other side of your limits.  I’d bet it won’t be boring.

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