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Fighting Off Boredom Today and Tomorrow

February 20, 2017 by  
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I’ve been writing about having a personal breakthrough and how keeping a record of one’s thoughts through a journal can be very helpful. I’ve also recently found a few thoughts in those journals about how bored I had become since I retired and, again, my own, previously written down words, have motivated me to do something about it.

If you are retired you probably know what I’m talking about and if you are totally busy, working hard, long hours plus taking care of your home and family responsibilities, you might not hit that boredom thing very often. It’s funny how so many of us have thought of work as a bad thing but it really is a blessing, as many retired people would probably tell you.

So here is the question—what do you do if retirement has you bored out of your mind or, if you are not even close to retirement, you find yourself bored way too much regardless? Retired or not, what I’ve found, and continue to find, is that there are many different ways to cope with the boredom that can hit our lives.

The short answer to boredom is to get busy and stay busy! Other simple answers include pushing yourself to do more, challenging yourself, and setting goals with detailed plans. Specifically, it’s a really good idea to set goals that are well thought out and goals that fit with what you like to do, what you are good at, and what brings you joy and fulfillment. This might be a big goal, maybe something you’ve always dreamed of doing but didn’t go for out of fear. (If you haven’t already read the book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, it’s a great book and I recommend that you get a hold of a copy.)

Big projects can give you a real mental boost even if they take months or years. I remember how fulfilled and not at all bored I was when I decided to have a new house built for me in Kauai! No, I wasn’t the guy who poured the cement or swung the hammer but I decided on the floor plan that fit my personality and what things I wanted so that it fit my lifestyle–like good indoor-outdoor living spaces. Then just about every day there were decisions to be made and stuff that kept me busy and during that time I was rarely, if ever, bored.

Keeping busy is a great antidote for boredom, and it’s certainly a better way to go than something like alcohol. Yes, alcohol will entertain you but it only works for a short time and it has some pretty big negative consequences for a person’s life and health, as most people know.

So, if you’re a bit (or a lot) bored, may I suggest you look for something to keep you busy, like a big project that really turns you on? If you don’t have anything in mind and can’t think of something, well, next week I’m going to make some very specific suggestions that I think will help most readers. And if you are just totally busy and never bored then don’t change anything and be thankful. But also know that circumstances can change so you might want to take note of some of my suggestions.

Learning About What It Takes to Make it to 100 … from Kids

January 27, 2017 by  
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kauai kidsI’m am sure hoping that you, my reader, are not getting tired of me talking about being on the beautiful beaches of Kauai and sharing some of my insights and discoveries on life and living. Why? Well, because I’m once again on the beach and am still thinking, talking and writing about “100 wonderful ways to live to be 100”. I do, however, want to add one of my own to that list to make it the list of “101 Ways to Live to be 100.”

The list of 100 does include “have a family” but I would add this to the list:

101. Hang out, play with, observe, and learn lessons from your kids and grandkids.

This addition to the list is one activity that will certainly bring a smile to your face and, no doubt, will add years to your life. Right now, as I write this, I’m watching my son and grandson as they begin their snorkeling adventure not too far from the shoreline. Their excitement, especially my grandson’s, is so sky high because it’s such a new experience for him. Meanwhile, I can see my wife and our 4-year-old grandson and his 8-year-old sister having an absolute ball splashing in a very small and shallow pool of water surrounded by coral and lava rock. Such simple entertainment can bring such a high level of joy and happiness.

As adults, we can, and should, learn so much from these kids. Why do such simple activities bring so much pure joy and entertainment? It’s because these things are new and unusual for them and our brains are always seeking novelty. When we experience new things, our brains are stimulated to produce two brain chemicals that make us happy, excite us, and make us feel good. Those two brain chemicals are serotonin and dopamine. The problem with being adults is that basically we’ve been there and done that so many times that it’s not new, novel, or exciting to us.

Heavens … you can give a small kid a cardboard box and it can keep him entertained and happy for an hour or more as the kid crawls in and out, over and under, or makes it into as a hiding place. As adults, we can, and usually do, get great satisfaction and joy from just watching kids do these things, especially when those kids are having a blast doing them.

So, my 101 on the list is to take time to hang out and closely observe kids doing, what is to them, new things and watch how much joy and fun they get out of it. Then go one step further (and maybe this step should count as 102 on the list) and challenge yourself to come up with new activities, adventures and experiences that are very novel to you and that will most likely stimulate those two pleasurable brain chemicals.

I’m pretty darn certain that stimulating those brain chemicals is a major factor in how I push myself to visit new and different countries and cultures and to go out of my way to meet new people and make new friends. Just today I saw this very tall, good-looking guy at Walmart and noticed he had an accent. I just had to go up and ask where he was from. My guess from his height and accent was that he was Dutch. And, sure enough, he was from the Netherlands. Rob turned out to be a film maker vacationing in Kauai. Even though it was a short conversation, we decided to stay in touch and I walked away feeling great from the brief encounter because, yep, those two brain chemicals were at work.

What new and novel things excite you? If you need help identifying new things to do and try, just ask around and see what other novel and exciting things people are doing. These new experiences don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. The simple act of meeting Rob today was great, and even just driving through a totally different neighborhood, or walking, hiking or jogging on a new mountain trail can do the trick. Take time right now to make your own list. It can be eating at a new restaurant, eating a new type of food, trying out a new exercise, or making friends with complete strangers.

It’s all so worth it because not only does it make you feel good right now but it’s bound to help you live longer and live in better health–maybe even to live to be 100!!