boredom: what it really means, and what to do about it

“I’m so bored.”

I’m sure we’ve all uttered that dreaded sentence at least once in our life. Boredom equates to a lack of things to do, or in some cases a desire to not to even bother with the many things one must do due to lack of excitement.

Thinking about the problem that is boredom however, I also realized the problem arises when the mind fails to generate ideas that leads to challenges that leads to enjoyable overall experience when problem solving.

In plain term, you are bored and watching TV because the mind is in stasis – it doesn’t have the push to form or generate new thoughts based on the flickering of lights and progression of predictable storyline played out by actors and actresses – what is necessary here is a voluntary nudge from the command centre. That now, perhaps, one should move onto new and more challenging things.

So in other words, despite we often frame ‘challenges’ in a negative light, ‘challenges’ are crucial not only to dealing with boredom, but coming up with new challenges and overcoming them it is also important in ensuring varied and optimum experiences in life.

So the next time you say to yourself, ‘oh I’m so bored,’ – I challenge you to go do something you’ve never tried before – or better yet, something that’s outside of your comfort zone, or something you’ve always wanted to do but had reserves about. The worst thing that could happen is that you try it and you absolutely hate it to the point you won’t try it again – but on the flip side there’s a world of opportunities to be explored thanks to ‘boredom’.

Let’s wrap up this year on a good note!

I woke up this morning and realized, wow I’d be off in exactly two weeks time.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll get to slack off for the next two weeks. Far from it. There are so many lose ends to tie up and projects to bring to conclusion – then I can be off and indulging in creative things. Until then however, the schedule for the next 336 hours look a bit daunting.

That said, if I’m especially sleep deprived, I could always just sleep on the plane!

The difference between ‘Education’ and ‘Learning’

What does that ‘A’ grade really mean? Does it mean you have full grasp of a topic, or is it just you’ve managed to perform consistently on the material that is taught that semester. Is it enriching for you? Would you find yourself discussing the topics when not in a classroom setting?

The main difference in formal ‘education’ and ‘learning’ – one ends, the other follows us through life.

Whereas formal education trains certain skill sets and certifies us for employment. Life long learning is something that is less structured. To begin with, learning happens when one asks questions and set out to seek the answers for them. One can draw their own conclusions from their own research – whereas in formal education settings – a topic is brought to mind and questions are encouraged thereafter, but ultimately, students are given an uniform answer. Though one of course could disagree with one’s professor, one does it at his own discretions and consequences.

Already, we see this linear education system breeds mental laziness. If an instructor’s job is to inspire ideas, then under this model they’re hardly doing their job. There’s transferring knowledge, and there’s inspiring for progress. Not to mention, nowadays, students care more about their GPA rather than what they’re taught and how it fits into their day to day lives and in turn, how they could use the knowledge to improve the world.

The aforementioned flaws are the reasons why I think supplementation to formal education with self-education would be much more rewarding. Rather than seeing the acquisition of knowledge as some form of punishment or something that must be done, one could follow one’s curiosities and ask questions – not only in classroom settings, but ask questions in their day to day lives and set out to answer those questions by their own means through research.

Is Europe still safe to travel to?

Due to recent events, friends and family have advised me to reconsider things. Well, the thing is nothing has changed since that last post where by I expressed that I am not cancelling my trip. I am not cancelling my trip on the grounds of not putting my life on hold just because of fear, whether that fear is internally generated or externally generated.

I am well aware of what’s happening in Europe. I am well aware that now, every country in Europe is set on edge. I’d read on the news that there were school closures in Norway due to threats and there’d been false alarms in Copenhagen, and today I read there’s raids in Berlin.

However, I am not cancelling my trip.

Because cancelling is unfounded and this ‘fear’ since Paris, followed by the lockdown in Brussels is blown out of proportion. Of course, ripple effects will be felt from the attacks and precautions must be taken (in my case, in the forms of perhaps not staying out so late at some unknown parts of town and toning down on the partying) but in any case, there’s 503 Million people living in the European Union, and more if you count those countries not included in the EU. And they’ve been able to carry on with their lives since November 13th.

The truth is, there’s always going to be risks – there’s even risks in not taking risks. Just as I was walking home from work today, I saw the local police block off a street completely and from what I could observe there’s a car with the windows broken, a white sheet laid out on the street and the fire brigade and ambulance leaving the scene…

I have no idea what’d happened. Other than misfortune can befall any one of us at any given time – so with that in mind, it is ever more imperative to carry on with courage and do exactly what you set out to accomplish because they matter.

I’m putting off Christmas purchases

After being bombarded with ads and deals both online and in fliers I receive in the mail, I’ve been enticed to shop (round of applause for the marketers out there) – however, I’m not going to buy anything.

I don’t need them.

I may want new gym gear but I don’t need new gym gear.

I have so many NikePro gear lying around, it’s just a matter of finding them hidden somewhere in the corner of my closet. I don’t need to update them since they’re still functional, even though the branding might’ve worn off – but that’s not an excuse for me to shell out money I don’t want to spend just because the JUST DO IT sign is fading.

To add to that, I really don’t see the point of getting dressed up to the nines at the gym. Especially if the goal is to get all sweaty and gross – yeah.

I’d rather do more things, see more things, than own more things. 

And the same notion goes for all the other things I’ve been wanting – Do I really need them? Or is it just holiday marketing playing tricks on my mind?

what would you do ‘if’…?

Recently, I came across this post on Away From The Noise that posed the question, ‘what would you do,’ with conditions that all things are ‘perfect’.

“What would you do?”

I let the questions sink in and steep in my brain, then I turned off the light and went to sleep. In the morning, I woke up the questions became a rough guide to how I could tailor my daily schedule, for the process of answering them provided me with great insight on how I want to live my life from now on.

1. If you had the time? 

“There’s just so much to do!”

“We never have enough time!”

That’s not entirely true. You always have time. It’s just a matter of organization and priority. Ask yourself what’s important to you and organize accordingly. If you shuffled those priorities around I guarantee you’ll have more time and be more fulfilled in your endeavour. Fulfillment is important, because nobody likes to feel like they’ve just wasted so much time. Wasted time is worse than wasted money.

2. If you had the money?

This is a paradox in my opinion. Even if I had the funds now, I would squander it. I wouldn’t be wise. Kind of the paradox why 70% of six figure lottery winners end up broke (according to the IRS) – they squander it – easy come, easy go. I wouldn’t know how to ‘live’ and I have a feeling I’ll just become ‘lazy’ because I wouldn’t really see a need for ‘what next’ – if you took away the process and the struggle, I doubt anyone would be truly satisfied with what they have. Hence, I prefer working hard towards something instead.

3. If you knew what needed to be done? 

Even though I don’t have the blueprint in exact detail. I’m figuring out the steps through trial and error. Failures teach more than successes ever will.

4. If you gave yourself the permission to believe in your own possibilities?

I did and now I feel happier than ever.

5. if you weren’t afraid?

Fear is evolutionary. It is something we’re born with to preserve life. It has protective properties, such as running as fast as possible in the opposite direction when you sense trouble. But it’s also a misleading cue. Things we’re uncomfortable with, often makes us fearful. We’d rather stay safe in a bubble of safety and not take ‘risks’ because we’re trained to be risk adverse. Even this morning, there’s a part of me that just want to stay in bed and sleep in because it’s so comfortable and safe there, but safety doesn’t foster growth. I understand this now. Fear should be a motivator, not a hinderance.

6. if you had whatever you needed to be happy?  

When I first started with these six questions, I thought, “that’s easy, happiness is Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Stockholm…” but then I realized, happiness is not a place, nor is it a group of people you’re with, or a city, or a culture. This is actually a conversation I had with my friend, the one that linked me to the last minute flight deal.

“Happiness isn’t a place. If you’re happy with yourself you can be happy anywhere.”

And, I have to agree. It really is. And it actually doesn’t take much for a human being to be happy.

Happiness is loving your life and appreciating every second of it. Never stop believing in your own possibilities and potential. Knocking down life’s challenges and growing stronger with every passing challenge. Whether you succeed or fail. It’s about getting up and trying again through scrapes and cuts. It’s about respecting yourself enough to know that you deserve the best, but also being humble enough to know that there’s always room for improvement. Happiness is a choice. Happiness is also an attitude, a mentality.

Happiness is yours for the taking.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

how to deal with negativity

I feel like it’s about time that I addressed this issue. Since I myself, in the past, have been quite negative about life and its outlooks since I believed that there’s actually benefits in being realistic and critical, in the sense that I put a lot of thoughts into my thoughts and actions.

I lived ‘carefully’.

I believed that if I was ‘realistic’ or ‘critical’, then I would see the world for what it really was.

If I was systematical in my judgements then I’d get objective results. I would see everything as is – but then I realized, everything’s filtered through our own perceptions and actions of others are also filtered through their perceptions of what’s appropriate for the situation and what’s not.

Before this post becomes a post about ‘perception’ and ‘double perception’ and effective communication. I’m just going to ask the question.

“When someone’s negative towards you. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?”

Did I cause this?

Is this justified?

How should I resolve it?

That was my process. Or it used to be, when I took everything so personal.

Now, it’s much simpler.

First I ask myself, ‘is it constructive criticism on my abilities’ – if the answer is ‘no’.

I tell myself:

“I don’t have time for this.”

Yes.

Simple and effective.

“I do not have time for negative people.” 

Your time and energy is like a bank you draw from – how much of this precious currency do you want to spend on ‘negative people’ rather than what you really care about?

You simply do not have the time for them.

And it actually works, on anyone you’re not emotionally attached to. Ahem hard to deal with strangers, colleagues, bosses, you name it (well, at least when it’s not someone you really really care about, like a loved one or a dear friend, because there’s no emotional investment there).

Think about it, when someone’s being ‘negative’ towards you – what’s naturally going to happen? You beaming back? Of course not.

You’ll frown, scowl, make a face, which will then signal your brain to go ‘uh oh’ – ‘I’m feeling down. That sucked. I need something to pick me up.’

And of course, I realize this could be a repeated offence – if that person feeding you all that negativity is someone you work with.

You’re gonna get dragged into whatever ‘beef’ they have with you and into a whirlpool of frustration. Sure, I believe in conflict resolution – but at times, there are just people out there who latches onto you and drain you dry like a vampire bat that just won’t get off your back. You’ll get sick if you give it too much thought and you definitely DO NOT want to put up with anything that gets you emotionally and then physically sick.

If something’s not a fit. Don’t force it.

This is true for jobs and relationships.

Use your creativity to try something new, do something new. As Einstein explained, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So don’t drive yourself crazy.

It’s not worth it.

the mini ice age: I’m actually excited

“Solar activity is predicted to drop by 60 percent in 2030.”

When I first read that headline, I was actually excited.

How can you be you might ask – but let me just tell you – I’m excited because this buys us time – maybe enough time for us to switch to a more sustainable energy source other than fossil fuel.

Humans are causing the globe to warm – and if something like a mini ice age occurs then, perhaps we could buy our species some more time in terms of long term survival.

Other than that, I think it’d also be interesting to see how people would cope in the coming years, would they take the news seriously, would they prepare, or would they just wait until the very last minute – it’d definitely be interesting to see what happens in 2030. Hmm yes, something else to look forward to.

how I bombed all four interviews

As many of you know, yesterday was a busy day for me. I had to go from one place to another to another to another in a seemingly never ending day of walking into an air-conditioned building then back into the hot hot heat again in attempt to secure a job for the next five months or so.

It just happens that these jobs were all over the city and going from one to the other filled up any time gap I might’ve had in my day.

And the result?

I’m not optimistic about any of them.

As I realize, unless you somehow hit it off with the interviewer, so well that after the first ten seconds, both of you are laughing – there’s a good chance that things might get a little awkward even before the dreaded question.

“Tell me about yourself.”

Geesh.

Talk about not being innovative.

Can’t you give me something else to answer that’d actually showcase my reasoning skills?

Rather than, tell me about yourself, where you grew up, which school you went to, what you’re proud about – the question is so open ended you just want to stare at them and go: this is worse than that one time on a date…

Yeah, interviews are a lot like speed dating in a sense.

Do I like you?

Do I like you enough to go to the next step with you? (Ahem, whatever that is.)

Do I like how you look, what you’re wearing, how you present yourself and who you claim to be?

I might’ve passed the first three – but the last question.

“You’re going to be gone for December?” came the question along with tapping of pen on notepad, as if that was to be kept ‘off the records’.

Great. What am I supposed to say?

I don’t believe in permanence and I’m on my way to fuck off to somewhere where I can actually experience life? That, this corner of the world touts itself as one of the best but it really isn’t. That, I’m sick and tired of their condescending attitudes just because they have all the power in deciding if they’re going to employ me, as if employment is the definitive test for success or failure in one’s life.

“Is that going to be a problem?”

“Well, it just doesn’t make sense showing you things when you’re gonna take off in six months.”

“Hah, yeah you know what. This isn’t going to work.” I said then standing up, a quick hand shake and I was out the door. Of course then this repeated itself three more times in the same day. And it got me thinking, if I wasn’t so adamant about my wants, I might’ve chickened out and tried to cower back into whatever’s more accepted. As in, maybe even cancelling everything just so I could have a job that makes me sick.

I then went to Starbucks after to cool down. As I sipped on my coffee I realized I was smiling and not scowling. And I imagined what one of my best friend’s would’ve said if he was there. “You go girl! Respect yourself enough to turn down all those negative vibes!” 

“Don’t ever go back.”

“Don’t go back to what you already know won’t work and focus on building the new.”