Smartphone Etiquette For Public Places (0r How To Look Smarter, Happier and Wiser Than Everyone Else).

(My apology if you are reading this while on a smartphone in a public place.)

I know. I know. You don’t want to hear it. But please, just allow me a few minutes of your valuable, electronically stimulated time and then you can throw all of this away.

At this point in human history, all of us have probably been in a restaurant or bar and noticed that almost everyone is on their smartphone. It seems to be a social phenomenon, the likes of which we have not seen since the popularity of cigarettes over a half century ago. Keep in mind that we are still at the very beginning of the integration of this smartphone technology into our daily lives. We are canaries in the proverbial coal mine and no one really understands how these smartphones will affect us down the line. So let me offer you this insight- currently almost everyone is addicted to what is known as electronic stimulation. This is why people can not stay off their phone. It is difficult for almost anyone these days to go ten minutes without a hit of electronic stimulation. Currently this addiction is wide spread, all pervasive and completely socially acceptable just like cigarettes were a half century ago. This will all change in time but for now if you want to avoid the unfulfilling and unhealthy direction your life is heading in it is good to exercise some kind of smartphone etiquette.

If you are on social media or on-line on your smartphone while you are with other people- you are an addict. You might really want to work on curbing this behavior right away. Even though most people might not be saying anything about it, you are a boring person to spend time with. Your attention is fractured. You have become dulled. More about this later.

If you are talking with another person and you are feeling bored or underwhelmed and you need to check your smartphone for a hit of electronic stimulation during the conversation- you are an idiot. Literally, you have been made dumb. Exercise your brain. Make a deliberate effort to stimulate the conversation or take it in directions that you want it to go. Don’t give up or give in. If all people do this we will end up with a zoned out, electronically stimulated, very dull human race.

If first thing in the morning you need to check your smartphone, you are seriously addicted. If you need a hit of electronic stimulation before you even wake up and have coffee- this is a sign of a hardcore addiction. Like a junkie, you are enslaved by your need for electronic stimulation. Checking your smartphone first thing in the morning sets up a precedent. As a result you will probably end up checking your smartphone all throughout the day and night. This is not a wise way to live a fulfilling human life. You will probably end up on some kind of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication. Or you will look to alcohol and/or your smartphone to calm your electronically stimulated mind. Please try and get some control over this before it is too late for you. Even though you want to see what is going on on Facebook or Instagram first thing in the morning, give it some time. Breathe. Feed your dogs. Make your bed. Meditate. Go exercise. Read. Get your life back on track first.

Do you check your smartphone at least fifty times a day? Probably more since most people check their smartphones at least a hundred and fifty times a day. This is one of the most destructive aspects of the electronic stimulation addiction. This single aspect of smartphone use probably destroys more people’s mental health, creativity and relationships than anyone is yet aware. It is not healthy to check anything fifty times or more a day let alone a smartphone. Needing to check something so much gives a person chronic anxiety, a deep feeling of never having enough and as a result, a dependency. This deep feeling of never enough is the cause of most forms of despair. I know it is cool to check your phone and see what is going on in the digital world, but continually checking up on all those updates, text messages, likes and comments is emptying you out inside. Not to mention the possibly irreparable damage it is doing to your attention span. Tried focusing for long periods of extended time on anything other than your smartphone recently? Please, stop checking your smartphone so much when in public places. It can wait.

Do you go on-line while you are outside of your home or office? If you do you are without a doubt addicted to electronic stimulation. You need it like a junkie needs her fix. Feel good about yourself? Research shows that a dependency on something greatly reduces self-esteem. Don’t believe the research just look at your own life. How much are you thriving in life? How much are you mastering? Going out and having engaging interactions much? Doing what you want with your life? Feel confident in your interesting sexual explorations? Chances are that if you are addicted to electronic stimulation you are not have many sexual experiences at all. Continual electronic stimulation can leave the libido underwhelmed. When you are outside of your home or office please try and abstain from going on-line. It’s not a good look. This may be why you are not getting laid much.

When someone tells you about something and you find this something interesting, do you need to go on-line and check it out right away? This is a fundamental way that people who are addicted to electronic stimulation justify getting a hit of electronic stimulation when hanging out with other people. It is often a manipulative way of saying they are bored and need a quick fix. More, more, more is what their brain is saying as they sit there not really hearing what you are saying. The main problem with this aspect of the addiction is that it is conditioning the brain to need continual, immediate, electronic stimulation. The result of this is that a person loses the ability to sustain focused and hard effort towards something they are interested in. We all know that most of the rewarding things in life require sustained, focused, hard effort but the addiction to continual, immediate, electronic stimulation is denying people the ability to engage in this kind of focused effort. Any real potential a person has is sacrificed for their need for quick, electronic stimulation hits. Next time you want to check something you think is interesting on your phone (especially when with other people) please try and stay focused on what you are doing in the present moment. That interesting thing on-line can wait.

Finally, next time you are at a bar or restaurant notice how almost everyone is on their smartphone or has their smartphone right beside them (just waiting for the next electronic stimulation hit). Even though humans have an innate tendency to want to be a part of the tribe, see if you can deny the temptation to check your smartphone. It will be short term pain for long term gain. Even though you are surrounded by droned out, electronic stimulation addicts- please know that this behavior is not normal and will one day be seen as seriously harmful. But by then many lives, careers, talents, attention spans and relationships will have been ruined. By refusing that desire for a hit of electronic stimulation when in public places you may be saving your future life. And you will look smarter, happier and wiser than everyone else.

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How To Get Almost Nothing Done.

I need to get my head on straight here. I have been procrastinating all morning. Watching various videos. Leaving status updates on Facebook. Posting drawings on Instagram. It is 12:03pm and I am still wearing the clothes I slept in. Why am I doing this? What is it that I am looking for? It certainly feels easier than dealing with all the things I need to get done.

My toilet has been wobbling for weeks. Need to bolt it to the blue tiled floor. My bathroom walls have holes that need to be patched up. I have closets and a garage that are filled with junk and in desperate need of being organized. I have yet to return phone calls that are days old. I have several unfinished novels and short stories begging for my attention. I need to pay bills and call the financial aid office because I am in so much debt that I have not even bothered thinking about paying it back. For years and years. I could go on and on with the things that I am not taking care of but this doesn’t sound like fun.

There is currently a public service announcement on the college radio station that I have on, which is recommending taking deep breaths as an antidote to the epidemic of stress that fills all our jam-packed lives. Instead of breathing, I seem to have chosen retreating. The more that I must get done it seems that the less I want to do. I am like a person who eats a lot to lose weight. It is reverse logic. I realize that the more I retreat the heavier my life will get. But for whatever reason, a large part of me is all right with this.

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who are pro-active and organized. These people usually are very good at doing things that do not have an immediate benefit but require being fully committed, effort and consistency. They are not afraid of hard work even though it may not be fun. It seems easy for them to work hard at something that they are interested in for long periods of time. These are usually the people whose films we watch, houses we buy, books we read, classes we take, restaurants we eat in, planes we fly on, surgeries we subject ourselves to and on and on. Then there are those people who do just enough to get by. The only thing they really stick with is not sticking to things. They give the minimum amount of effort to just get by and then when things get hard they retreat. They go take a nap. Read. Drink a beer. Read. Go on Facebook or Instagram. Read. Listen to music. Nap. Read. This second kind of person is me.

Isn’t a blogger someone who wants to do the minimum amount of work in order to still remain a writer? This would be me. As soon as working on a novel or a short story gets tough, I become frustrated and bored and want to do something else. In fact, whenever anything gets boring or frustrating I seem unwilling to put in the work it would require to get it done. Instead, I go do something else that feels more fun even if this means sitting on my couch and staring out my window for hours. I do just enough to get by and it is only when I reach a crisis point or things get urgent that I will do more.

Isn’t this what the status quo means? Doing just enough to get by and then enjoying your life (or not) on your off time? Go work on your car, take out the boat, work in the garden, listen to records, clean your home, go to a movie, hang out with friends, read a book, watch a Netflix series. You work your job because you need the money and then when work is done you just hang out. To answer my own question, yes- this is the status quo. What would not be the status quo would be putting consistent effort into something that you are interested in but may or may not work out down the line. Even though I am not happy about it, I seem to have chosen the status quo. Life just feels easier this way.

I know an older man who feels like he has failed in his life. His life has been filled with anxiety, worry and despair. He has worked hard at his job as a social worker for thirty plus years but he told me that when he is done with work all he thinks about is resting and chilling out. “This is how I avoid stuff,” he tells me. I see him sitting there with his large belly, his marital problems, his expenses, his dislike of his job, his tired face, his head filled with stress and worries and I can not help but feel terrified that this man might be me in ten years. But how does one change this tendency to make a hundred excuses for why they do not have to fold the laundry, keep working on the novel, stay in the relationship, pay all the bills, exercise or call the financial aid office right now? I am a psychotherapist and I have no idea. Some bad habits seem hard wired so deep in our brains that we will do just enough, make the bare minimum effort to try and figure them out. Then when this feels like no fun anymore, we will drop it and go do something else.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #1: I can’t do this anymore. I put so much out there and get so little back. I put such effort into each of my Status Updates. I think about them and try to make them as beneficial to others as I can. But I get nothing. Or very little. Just a few likes. Mostly none. I see other people who get tons of likes and loves on everything they post. These people post nothing special but everyone loves all their Status Updates. I just don’t understand. I post stuff and it’s like a drop of water falling into a large lake. Not even a ripple. I feel underappreciated and discouraged. My on-line presence does not seem to matter to anyone. Sometimes I will get something back from others but it is usually like giving a piece of bread to a starving person. It just doesn’t do the trick. I quit.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #2: Um…..I know that I said I quit the Facebook Status Update thing last night but I was wondering if I could have my Facebook Status Update status back?

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #3: I don’t know what the point of this is. Why do I keep updating my status several times a day? Why do I keep thinking about what I will write for my Status Updates as I am walking down a street or eating dinner with my wife? My Facebook Status Updates seem to be taking over my entire mind. This can’t be healthy. Facebook cannot be healthy thing for all of us to be doing. I should not be doing this anymore. I put all this effort into each of my Status Updates but no one says anything. Why do I do it? What is the point? It is not like getting “Likes” or “Loves” from other people is in any way going to improve my life. Every time I post something I just become uncomfortably aware of how insignificant my on-line presence really is. What is the point of all this? I just can’t do it anymore. I am done.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #4: I know that I said I was done yesterday, but maybe I was a bit too hasty. I hope you will give me another chance. Maybe Facebook Status Updates are important to me. Maybe I need to be able to express myself in this kind of social way. My wife tells me that it is good for me to try and connect with others in an authentic way. If I am honest in my Status Updates, then others can know how I really feel. This could be good for me and maybe I should not write it off just yet. I am back everyone!

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #5: So this is really not working out for me. I think it is a complete waste of time. I used to read books. I used to make art and write fictional stories. I used to exercise. Now I don’t do any of those things anymore. Whatever free time I have, I am on Facebook most of the time. I am leaving Status Updates that no one seems to respond to. I am reading other people’s Status Updates and scrolling through the news feed. I am getting upset about how much attention other people’s Status Updates receive. I am clicking on various links that people post. This is how I am spending my time and I don’t know that it is a good thing. My wife does the same thing and we don’t talk with one another much anymore. We certainly don’t have sex much anymore. What is going on here? What the hell are we all doing? I don’t hang out with people anymore. Instead, I connect on Facebook. This can’t be a good thing! I don’t want this anymore in my life. It’s not healthy. I am done. I am out. Once I post this FINAL STATUS UPDATE I will delete the Facebook App from my phone. Goodbye everyone. It has been fun but I must call it a day. Take care!

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #6: I know it has only been a few days but I have had a change of heart. Since I quit Facebook I have felt lonelier. I miss my friends. I no longer get to see the people that I have become used to seeing everyday on Facebook. I like a lot of you and I was thinking that if I quit Facebook I will never again be in touch with most of you, if not all of you. Once I go off Facebook you are all dead to me and this makes me sad. It is important to have friends in your life and most of my friends are here. In my non-Facebook life, I am a loner. I hang out with my wife and my dogs. But on Facebook I get to see everyone whom I have been friends with for years. I get to stay in touch with all of you and that is a special thing. So I am not ready to end my relationship with all of you. I don’t want to let all of you go. I know that a lot of you don’t acknowledge my Status Updates, but that is ok. This is a good way for all of us to stay in touch so if you don’t mind I think I will hang out around here for a while.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #7: Facebook is just not working out for me. I know it has been only a week since I have been back but this is just not working. I already have enough anxiety in my life, do I need more? I just don’t understand why most people do not seem to respond in any way to my Status Updates. It is as if most of you are ignoring me. Are you guys pissed off at me? Do you not like me? Why do you never respond to my Status Updates? This passive aggressive behavior is driving me nuts. There are several people on Facebook whom I think I am close friends with but none of you ever say anything with regards to my Updates. I just don’t get it. Everything I post it feels like I am met with complete silence. I appreciate those few of you who “Like” or “Love” some of the things I post. I appreciate the few comments that I occasionally get (especially the ones that are not trying to be funny). I really do. But most of you are silent. What is going on here? If you are pissed off at me just tell me. If you don’t like my Status Updates, then let me know. Being met with this kind of stonewalled silence from all of you drives me nuts. What is the point of posting all the time and none of you ever say anything? I just can’t do this anymore. It is really stressing me out. Plus, do we all really need to be in touch anymore? It is not like I ever see any of you in person (I will probably never see most of you in person ever again). We may have been friends at one time but do we still really need to be in touch? Isn’t it ok that friendships end? That we all move on and out of each other’s lives? This staying connected through Facebook just doesn’t seem like a healthy thing. I don’t want to do it anymore. I quit.

FINAL STATUS UPDATE #8: I know I said I wasn’t going to do this anymore. I am not going to do this anymore. This is my FINAL STATUS UPDATE. I am now going to become what my wife calls a “Lurker.” I just wanted to let those of you know who care, that I will still be checking in on Facebook. I am not ending my relationship with all of you. We can still stay in contact through the Facebook Messenger. I will just not be posting anymore Status Updates. I am not doing that anymore. Done playing that game. Done trying to get your attention. But I will be checking back in to Facebook a few times a week so if any of you want to stay in touch with me just go ahead and message me. Thanks everyone.

Notes From The Present Moment, Part Two.

Are you kidding me? Do you really believe this present moment bullshit? You got to be joking. Oh I stay present and just watch my depression like it is a cloud moving across the sky. What a bunch of bullshit. Do you really want to soften your personality like that? Do you really want to not deeply feel? Do you really want to become some new age, enlightened meditor? You would lose so much of who you are.

Maybe it is good to not be so reactive. Maybe it is good to not be so stressed out. But there are other ways to go about it than engaging in this New Age speak. The Greeks and many philosophers gave us much more intelligent solutions to the problem of suffering than mindfulness ever will. Do you really need to use mindfulness? Cant you find more intelligent ways to get through life?

Nothing wrong with emotions man. Nothing wrong with being caught up in negative thinking all the time. It’s what makes great art. It is the soil from which most creativity grows from. Life is suffering. It is a difficult thing and the creative person deals with this truth by making some kind of art. The moment you just become present and let thoughts and emotions come and go in a detached and mindful way- you will become less interesting to yourself and the world.

Don’t do that!

Struggle. Feel pain. Get pissed off. Cry. Be depressed. Be miserable. This stuff gives you character. It gives you personality. It brings forth the interesting art that is within you. Stop being a sissy. Knock it off with this mindfulness, new age mythology. Stop it with the Buddhist rhetoric. It is so cliche at this point. Get on with your life. Feel like shit if you feel like shit. Get depressed if you want. Have some courage. Deal with the hard shit head on. Your favorite writers and poets went deep into despair, they did not just breathe around it.

Get your head out of your ass. Life sucks. It has its brilliant and beautiful moments as well. Embrace all of it. Don’t use bullshit excuses and meditative practice to try and deal with it. Just make art. Read. Feel it. Write. Live life as fully as you can. Living life fully does not mean being happy and fully present all the time! It means feeling what it means to be you. Really feeling it. Getting lost in it. Going deep into your darkness. Working things out within yourself and coming back up to the surface with some kind of interesting, insightful and engaging art. That is the best any human can do.

Notes From The Present Moment

When we become silent there are so many different sounds to become aware of. It always interests me how much sound there is to be found in silence.

I am noticing my inhalation and exhalation. I am aware of how my brain is thinking about all kinds of things that I need to do. My mind is also judging various people, myself and other things. I am currently aware of all of the various activity in my brain. Such a restless organ my brain is. Like someone who is on high alert. Just continually yapping away. I feel grateful for the practice of mindfulness. There was a time when I could not stop listening to all the negative thoughts my brain produced. I was my thoughts. It was madness. Now I can smile at my thoughts. Contradict them. Laugh at them. Let them go. The brain makes a terrible master but a fantastic servant.

I am breathing in. I am breathing out. I notice my body sitting in a chair. Feet on the ground. Even though my thoughts want to keep me continually moving, continually doing and judging, I have slowed down. I am in this moment. This is what stress reduction means. Being able to chill out when things inside of you and outside of you are going full speed.

It is about to rain outside. Dark clouds move across the sky. I follow the clouds with my eyes. I am very aware of what I see. Green trees, cars, houses, birds, a few squirrels. Personally, I find it much more therapeutic to spend time looking out a window than looking at a television or smartphone screen. There is so much to see from a window if I am paying attention. We have to be present or else we end up missing out on so much.

2016 has been a challenging year. It has left me with a deep sadness lingering inside of me. Many deaths and many disappointments. Many hardships. As I sit here following my breathing, looking out a window and noticing my body being supported by the chair I am sitting in, I am also aware of this sadness that is present in me. But I let it be. Leave it alone. Watch it in the same way I watch the clouds moving across the sky. I am not wallowing in it. Instead I am grateful for it because it reminds me to continually return my attention to the present moment. To become more aware. I am able to be aware of the sadness but also feel thankful that I am breathing, that I have a comfortable home to dwell in, that I have things around me that I value, that I am healthy, that I have people in my life that I love and that I am able to be aware that life is as much about loss as it is about gain. Life is filled with contradictions. Contradiction is the nature of existence. We must learn to live with the contradictions if we want to be well.

Outside my window I notice a woman letting her small dog go to the bathroom in my front yard. She then walks away without picking it up. “What the hell?” I think. I notice anger rise up in me. I am aware of thinking that I should go outside and ask her what she is thinking by letting her dog go the the bathroom in my front yard! I want to demand that she pick it up now! My heart picks up speed instead. I return my focus to my breathing. Inhaling and exhaling. I notice my feet on the ground. I tell myself that I will deal with it but I don’t need to react to it right away. I don’t even know for certain that her dog did indeed go to the bathroom in my front yard. Just looked like it. I notice that my anger passes like a wave. It is gone now. When I am finished writing this I will go outside and look. I will deal with it then. Everything will be fine. This is how we engage in stress reduction. Cancer and heart disease are not the number one killer. Chronic reactivity (stress) is. Few things are really worth the price we pay for always being reactive. The most crucial thing for mental and physical health is learning how to respond (not react) to whatever challenges arise in the present moment. Without the awareness that arises when we pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment- it is almost impossible to not react to everything.

How To Be Unhappy

 Why are dogs so gross? These people are all idiots. Today is the day that I am going to hang myself. My life lacks all kinds of stimulation. That stupid squirrel needs to shut up. Your feet smell like shit. I don’t want to do anything today. I want to be left alone. I can’t believe tomorrow I must go back to work again. All of this sucks. The house is a mess. Why is my fucking desk wobbling when I write. The noise is driving me nuts. People all need to go to hell. None of them are any good. We are all slaves. I’m tired of picking up dog shit. I don’t want to do anything anymore. I am tired of talking. You are a loser. We are all losers. Where are you going? Why don’t you want to hang around me? Wait a second. Stay here a bit longer. Come back.

 These are just some of the ways in which you need to think to be unhappy. You see, it takes a lot of work to be happy. But to remain unhappy is a lot harder. Only the strong can survive unhappiness. Everyone else will try and be happy. They will not be able to take the negativity any longer. They will pay thousands of dollars to hear Tony Robbins speak. They will spend hundreds of dollars on self-help books, therapists and workshops. All because they cannot take being unhappy anymore. It is too much. Too painful to bare.

To stay unhappy takes work. We are currently living in an age where The Cult of Happiness is taking over. Be happy. Be positive. Make your life into something you are proud of. Be the best you that you can be. Live your dream. Be grateful and love all that you have. I am beautiful. Love your fellow human being. You are the creator of your life. Manifest what you want. These are the kinds of articulation this cult makes. If it works for a person I don’t want to take that away from them even though I know it is all a lie. A fabrication. A belief system predicated on bullshit. The Cult of Happiness is an escape from the miserable reality of all of our lives.

To be unhappy means to confront the reality of life without numbing or dumbing it down. To be unhappy is to be honest about the elephant that is always in the room. There is nothing progressively creative about happiness. Continual happiness and positivity does nothing but dumb us down. This is why corporations and governments have embraced the Cult of Happiness with open arms. The pursuit of happiness and positivity is the perfect way to sell people something and to control them. Take Viagra or Lexapro and be the best you can be. Feel good again. I would trust a company that says something like: Life sucks. This shit is hard. Here is something that might help.

To be unhappy takes work. People are continually turning away from you. People are continually getting upset with you. People are continually thinking that you do not appreciate the life you have (the unhappy person appreciates life far more than any happy person ever could. This is why they are so unhappy- they value life and are unhappy about the artificial and enslaved life society is forcing them to live). People see you as a miserable person. Somehow failing to fully live your life. I don’t know when this phenomenon started but somehow in the eyes of the living when a person passes away if those left living can say- but he/she was happy in their life, this makes everything ok. What a bunch of bullshit. If a person was happy in their life, chances are they were just one more anesthetized and checked out human being. To be unhappy requires an independent strength since everyone else will think you are doing something wrong. Everyone will think you are somehow failing to fully take advantage of your life. What a bunch of shit. This is exactly what the unhappy person is trying to do- take full advantage of living their life despite everything that prevents them from doing so. Despite living in a society where everyone is conditioned and enslaved and eventually will get sick and die, a person who can still be happy all the time is just not that smart.

To be unhappy does require a lot of work. First you need to be willing to always state how you feel. If you do not want to always state how you feel you must be willing to remain quiet. Positive people love to talk. They love to tell everyone how much they love telling everyone how happy they are. If you are unhappy you need to be ok with alarming and upsetting happy people with the things you say or keep your unhappiness to yourself. I recommend keeping your unhappiness to yourself since no one else will understand (unless you are fortunate enough to befriend an other authentically unhappy person). The Cult of Happiness is everywhere. It has recruited everyone to its main cause– to get everyone to think and feel the same happy things. But you see, a person cannot be consistently happy or unhappy. So if you are a member of The Cult of Happiness you will always be striving to keep happiness around and this will require a large chunk of your denial and hard earned money. If you are unhappy you don’t give a shit. When you are miserable and in despair, such is life. When you are happy and not in despair, cool. THE UNHAPPY PERSON ACCEPTS LIFE AS IS. THE HAPPY PERSON IS ALWAYS STRIVING FOR MORE HAPPINESS.

I am miserable right now. I fell an unpleasant pressure inside of myself. The day before the return of Monday. Who could be happy with Monday on the horizon? You want the truth? Life is so unsatisfying for us all. I wish we could all just admit that and get on with things. I wish we could just sit around and talk about how miserable we are. All this talk about potential, living fully and how great things are just bores me. I want to hear about how unhappy you are! I want to live in a world where when I go to the market the cashier says, Have a fucking miserable day. Then maybe I will feel happy because I am so unhappy and know that so are you.

Boredom’s Bite or The Rotting Animal

It has come back to bite him in the ass. And the brain. And the chest. And the heart. And deep down in the penetralias of his soul. This is the thing about boredom. It is not a superficial thing. It may begin that way but as time moves on it goes deeper and deeper. Once boredom is in deep it is almost impossible to eradicate. It gradually ruins a person’s entire life. To eradicate boredom will require either complete self-destruction or obedient self-renunciation. Anything in between just will not work. He has tried.

It has come back to bite him in the ass and the brain and the chest and the heart and deep down in the penetralias of his soul because he never used to suffer boredom’s bite. He was free of boredom and would tell people that if they were bored it was only because they were boring people. Or he would quote the poet Rilke and say that, “If you are bored it is because you are not being poet enough.” He never had gratitude for the fact that he was not bored. He never appreciated not being bored. He just assumed that boredom was a failure of the human spirit and he had not, nor would he ever fail in that way. He was an artist, a writer, a reader and enjoyed going out and having all sorts of interesting experiences. How could he ever be bored? It would not happen to him. Boredom could only infect those who have conformed and given in.

Now many years later he is bored all the time. His boredom may lighten its weight from time to time but it is always present. It is always something he is having to push against. How did this happen? He will try and understand what brought it on in the hopes that he can return it back to where it came. He cannot locate a single point from where it began but he knows it began to germinate when he moved to a suburb where he knows no one, bought a house, started a business and settled in. But how could this be? He loves his home and his wife. He has a nice and peaceful life. He makes decent money, he has a lot of debt to pay, he owns nice things, he has a working fireplace, he is relatively healthy. It is the American Dream right? But he does not like his line of work (even though he feels guilty about not being more grateful for it) or the community where he lives (even though he feels guilty about not being more grateful for it) but how can not liking these things be affecting him so deeply? His daily practice of making art and writing has dissipated. He has no engaging conversations with anyone. He has no friends. He spends a lot of his time cleaning his house. His work is painfully dull and routine. The suburb where he lives is dull. There is no place for him to go outside of his home so he spends most of his free time stuck in his home. Even a beautiful home can become a prison if you spend too much time there.

The problem with boredom is that it generates more of itself. Like cancer, boredom rapidly multiplies until its host is left feeling empty inside. This is the problem with boredom and battling it with alcohol, drugs or marijuana only works for a very brief duration. Naturally one thinks, “Well, just read or listen to records or watch a good film or have an orgy or go into the city and you will not be bored anymore. Just do something! Only boring people are bored.” The thing about boredom is that when left untreated, when allowed to just sit there, it will eventually thaw a person out. It will cause the individual to rot away from the inside out until little life is left on the inside of them. Decomposition and decay often happens way before a person physically dies. Boredom can kill a person while still alive. The bored person loses interest in everything. Even when the bored person does read, listen to records, goes to an orgy, goes into the city, makes art or watches good films- they still feel flat inside.

Boredom is a terrible affliction. In Antiquity doctors referred to boredom as an untreatable disease. They recommended that the patient engage in intensive prayer and deep breathing not to cure the patient but to prevent them from going insane or taking their own life. Only boring people are bored. The problem with this idea is that boredom creates boring people. A person is not born bored. Boredom gradually settles in at some point in a person’s life and then it rapidly multiplies. Boredom feeds on routine and suburbs. These are the places where it grows best. A person who is involved in routine and lives in suburbs must be continually vigilant for the presence of boredom. If they are not vigilant the boredom will settle in and grow, eating away at them from the inside out. Once this process of decomposition begins, it is almost impossible to completely eradicate without engaging in some kind of continual self-destruction or self-renunciation.

He is not able to commit to either of these. Instead he just sits home night after night, trying to involve himself in some kind of book or music. He contemplates engaging in some form of Tibetan self-renunciation but has not been able to do so yet. His sense of self is still too strong and his boredom has prevented him from feeling interested in anything. To his surprise, he has become a rotting animal.