Way #37: Never Be Bored
Don't take life for granted. Look for fresh insights. Reawaken the mystery.
"I know that already…I've heard it all before…That old stuff is boring…"
Imagine losing your eyesight for a year, and then suddenly regaining it. The joy is boundless. Every "sight" becomes a point of focus and fascination.
People usually get tired of life when their ideas become fixed. The 48 Ways says that eternal youth is granted to those who are always willing to grow. Whatever your age, occupation, or station in life – be fascinated with learning.
When we become used to something, we tend to overlook its intrinsic beauty. It loses its glisten and sparkle. Way #37 is lo magis libo bi'talmudo – "Never be satiated with your learning" – in other words, don't let yourself slip into complacency.
Don't assume that your viewpoint is the only way. You may have heard an idea a thousand times before, but then someone presents it from a slightly different angle, and you say, "That's amazing – I never thought of that before!" Listen to every concept as if hearing it for the first time. You'll be amazed at the deeper levels yet to discover.
Whatever you know, there is still more to understand about love, meaning, pleasure. Never be satisfied with your level. The more you learn, the more you realize how much there is to know! We only tap into a small percent of our potential.
Look around you: your clothes, your house, your job. Try to recall the feeling of when it was brand new. Now recapture that same degree of enthusiasm today!
Human tendency is to take things for granted. Take five minutes and make a list of the amazing aspects of creation – the ecosystem, communication, gravity, breathing, the human brain. Appreciate the simple joys of life. A bird chirping. A child laughing. The sun shining. Open your eyes to the awe-inspiring beauties of daily life.
Wake up in the morning with gratitude for the gift of life. The daily Jewish prayers thank God for our ability to think, for our organs functioning properly, for having clothing to wear. Saying these prayers transforms your attitude toward each day.
Another way to refresh your view of the world is to appreciate the people you care about. Re-evaluate your approach to your parents, your spouse – and yourself. Look for fresh insights. Reawaken the mystery and the chemistry.
Never say: "I can't." If it's the right thing to do, then you can do it. Realize that every time we say, "I can't," it holds us back from growing.
Make a list of all the things you "can't" do. For example, "I can't find my soul mate," or "I can't land my dream job." Everyone has hundreds of these "I can'ts" floating around.
Now sort through your list. Distinguish between "I can't" and "I don't feel like it." Ninety-nine percent of the "I can'ts" are really an excuse for "I don't feel like it." Are you backing off because it takes great effort? Or perhaps you lack the confidence to succeed?
Consider each item on your list. Commit to turning the "I can't" into "I will." Life starts jumping when we actively make things happen, instead of allowing things to passively happen to us.
Don't give up on yourself. Wrestle with your problems, your ambitions, your attitudes. Make a plan to accomplish. Don't worry about the mistakes of the past. Go forward!
New Avenues of Investigation
Complacency is the number one killer of life. Complacent people close their minds to new ideas and growth. But that's not life; that's mere "existence."
The opposite of complacency is excitement to grow and learn. Open your mind to new ideas, and evaluate them objectively.
Communism? Capitalism? Judaism? Figure out what's your best long-term investment.
Apply fresh ideas to everyday life. Suppose that you're bored silly with the drudgery of house cleaning, but you can't afford to hire a maid. What should you do? Research the homemaking world, and develop the quickest, easiest, and most invigorating way to get the job done. Make a game out of it. Put on a jogging suit, prepare your vacuum cleaner, set your stopwatch, and then zoom through the house. It's great exercise – and the challenge will turn a mundane task into a thrill!
One sure way to become re-energized with a topic is to teach others. Suppose you know how to bake a cake, or can juggle three balls. In preparing to teach someone else, you need to become excited about it yourself. Just the act of preparing will bring out new insights. And the questions others ask will bring renewed depth and vitality to the topic.
What Are You Living For?
Many people say it's impossible to know the purpose of life.
There's a great danger here. Because when we say we can't know something, we give up the chase. Never say: "I can't know truth." (The fact that billions of people don't know something, doesn't mean it can't be known.)
Often we resist asking existential life questions because of the great effort it takes to research and develop.
The 48 Ways says: Undertake the challenge. Even if you don't find the answer, the process of investigating will undoubtedly yield tremendous insights along the way.
Spend a few minutes and ask yourself, "What am I living for?" If you have the courage to keep that question at the forefront of your mind, you are guaranteed to never grow bored with life.
Crucial Life Concepts
When it comes to crucial life concepts, we sometimes say we "know" something, when perhaps we don't.
For example, it is a foundation of Judaism that God loves us personally and individually. He listens to our prayers. He desires a relationship with us. He guides and cares for us.
We may say we "know it," but unless we are living with that reality, we don't really know it. We're just paying lip service.
The method to "know" something is through understanding. Embark on a study of Who God is, and why He may act the way He does. As Rebbeinu Bechaye (11th century Spain) writes in "Duties Of The Heart":
The Torah encourages you to reflect and exercise your intellect on such themes… Investigate with your reason, understanding and judgment until the truth becomes clear to you and false ideas are dispelled; as it is written, "Know this day and lay it on your heart that the Lord, He is God" (Deut. 4:39). This admonition refers to everything in which rational methods of investigation can be used.
Once we begin to grapple with the question of God in our lives, then we can truly come to know that He loves us. And from there, great new vistas will open up.
Why Is "Never Being Bored" a Way to Wisdom?
- To stagnate in learning is to stagnate as a person.
- Keep reworking and updating what you know about living.
- Don't take life for granted.
- Don't give up on yourself. Keep trying and you'll make it.
- Don't be duped by laundry soap that's labeled "new and improved."
- You say you know it. But learn it again, and you'll see how much more there is yet to discover.
- In order to be great, we must wake up from complacency.
- If you don't think life is fantastic, try missing one day.