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Why is Life So Boring? 9 Reasons You’re Holding Yourself Back

In middle school, you would find me sitting in my room, diligently studying.

Actually, no.

You would walk in and think I was studying, but I was “Alt + Tab”ing so quick you couldn’t see I’d been watching one of my guilty pleasures…

Korean drama.

Yep, before K-pop was a huge thing, I sat in my room binge-watching hours and hours of dramatic, romantic scenes.

It was more exciting to get lost in the story than face my actual life, where the sole goal of my existence was to get straight A’s.

Point being, I know what it feels like to be wondering if there’s more to life. To ask, “What’s the fucking point?” and wonder if it’s worth it to keep trudging on.
There was a time when I would dread getting out of bed because I didn’t want to face the world. I distracted myself in relationship after relationship, just trying to find something to make me feel alive. 

A few years later, I started a business. I now coach clients all over the world and have discovered my purpose to help others pursue their dreams. Even when it’s hard to get out of bed, I keep going because I know I’m a part of something bigger.

It was a long journey to get here, and I’ve had my fair share of bored moments and existential laments. Here are nine reasons you may feel bored, and what you can do to live the life of your dreams. 

REASON 1 — You're not honest about what you'd rather be doing.

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”

– Andre Berthiaume

Maybe you watch a ton of Netflix because binge-watching TV makes you feel closer to your friends. Maybe you go out and party with them or risk dealing with their backlash and bitterness. Maybe your partner wants you to go to sports cards conventions and you couldn’t care less.

If this is you, I’d ask you why you don’t feel you can say no, and also wonder about what you’d rather be doing instead.

Is there a part of you that wants to spend a few hours a week volunteering, but you can’t seem to find the time? Maybe you’ve been really excited about redecorating your place, but everything else seems to take priority.
One reason our lives can become boring is when we forget who we are. We’ve stepped into the identity that others expect of us, like being a “mom” or a “partner” or a “boss”.

The question is, what would you rather be doing? What have you been dreaming about that feels too scary to say out loud? What excites you so much that the thought of it makes you slightly nauseous?

Maybe there’s a part of you that wants to volunteer and meet new people, or pick up a new skill, like knitting or woodworking. Maybe you want to write a book, or start a business. The thought of helping others and leaving your mark on the world makes your heart feel warm and fuzzy.

But you don’t say these hopes out loud. Maybe you even deny it to yourself. But in quiet moments where there’s no one else around, are you asking, ” What if….?”

What if I really let myself dream? What if I take a step further and even have the audacity to pursue that dream? Will I allow my vision of a better world push me to grow, or will I always be wondering what I’m capable of, if only I had let myself try?

Will I always be wondering what I'm capable of, if only I had let myself try?

Joyce Ling, The Abundance Coach Tweet

REASON 2 — You don't know how to tell good stories.

“And those who were seen dancing, were thought to be crazy, by those who could not hear the music.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

Boring-ness is in the eye of the beholder.

You are what makes something boring, not your situation.

I’ve known people who can make sitting on the toilet interesting, or make an ordinary day seem as riveting as watching The Titanic.

I first noticed this when I was listening to The Moth on NPR, where people come on stage, telling intimate stories to a crowd.

I noticed abruptly that a lot of the contestants told stories about normal, everyday shit.

I mean, yes there are still a few crazy stories here and there, like one about a dad fighting off a robber with an antique sword, and another about the comical antics of a woman whose period blood had gotten all over the sheets and tried to hide it. 

Despite some crazy stories, more often than not the stories were about mundane life events like a childhood crush, rescuing a sheep, and finding community at a local pool.

The reason people sometimes think their life is boring is because of the way they tell their story, not because their life is actually boring.

It would probably put you to sleep if those on the Moth described their lives objectively, as if they were writing a textbook. Instead, these ordinary people tell stories that are tremendously emotional, relatable, and profound. I often sit in thrall as they talk about some of their most ordinary days and realize that a boring life can often still be fodder for extraordinary stories.

Learn to tell better stories. Count your blessings. Embrace the mundanity of life and all the little, forgettable moments. One day, we may not even have the little things, and by then, it’s too late.

REASON 3 — You think you recover by "vegging" or binge-watching your favorite show

“Motion creates energy.”

― Meir Ezra

In Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism, he talks about how the discussion of leisure started as early as 4th century BC, in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. He suggests that an evening engaging in “mindless boredom busting” can often make you feel worse.

We’ve all been there.
  • Go to work.
  •  Make dinner.
  • Binge-watch Netflix.
  • Fall asleep.
  • Wake up.
  • Rinse and repeat.

The reason some people think their life is boring is because they turn off their brain as soon as work is over, thinking it helps them “recharge.”

Instead, watching hours of TV makes you sluggish.

Although it sounds counter-intuitive, Newport suggests that being productive actually gives you more energy instead of less, and watching TV all night can make you feel drained and unsatisfied.

Instead of these mindless activities, he gives a few recommendations to try.

First, he recommends you spend time engaged in creativity. Creativity is inherently about solving problems, so you are creating value and pushing yourself to grow. He also recommends “rich social interactions”, like having experiences with friends, playing tabletop games, or taking part in group fitness.

Many people feel most fulfilled when they can put their blood, sweat, and tears into something that truly matters to them.

If the Netflix binges haven’t been working for you, try doing something different this week. It might surprise you.

REASON 4 — You've killed the kid inside of you.

“The most sophisticated people I know — inside they are all children. “

– Jim Henson

All kids are born with an imagination and an ability to play.

Remember what you did when you were a bored kid? Maybe you would get lost in novels, dreaming about lands with dragons and fire.

Or maybe you would have little tea parties with stuffed animals, engaging in lively discussions.

Life is rarely boring as a kid. Everything is so new, and this fills the world with wonder and excitement.

As we get older, we think the world changes, but in reality, we change.

We feel jaded, predictable, and bored.

But that feeling isn’t an accurate reflection of reality. 

Everything is changing, we just don’t notice it. Sometimes it’s because we refuse to notice.

Like those old-fashioned movies that roll the film so quickly the static pictures seem fluid, we see an illusion of stability. There’s newness all around us, we often just don’t recognize it.

The next time you drive the same route to work, try this brief experiment.

Notice what differs from other times you’ve taken the same route to work. Is it the outside world, a person crossing the street, a different rhythm to the traffic? Or was it something inside of you, like how you’re feeling today, the thoughts running through your mind? Notice how the air smells today. How was the sunrise? 

When you notice all these little wonders tucked away in the routine corners of your life, you realize there’s still so much you don’t appreciate about the world.

You know what they say: Mystery is the spice of life.

When you notice all these little wonders tucked away in the routine corners of your life, you realize there's still so much you don't appreciate about the world.

Joyce Ling, The Abundance Coach Tweet

REASON 5 — You don't know who you are.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

– Dr. Seuss (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)

Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve always had a fear of disappointing others.
Because I’ve always worried about what other people want from me instead of asking myself what I wanted, I still struggle to grapple with basic aspects of my personality, like what I like or what I want.

If you don’t know who you are, your time and energy get dictated by others.
Maybe you watch a ton of Netflix because binge-watching TV makes you feel closer to your friends. Maybe you go out and party because you don’t want to feel left out, even though you’d do anything to stay home. Maybe your partner wants you to go to sports cards conventions with them, and although it’s the most boring thing on the planet to you, you say yes.

You have nothing better to do because you don’t have your own dreams, passions, and interests.

You’re the perpetual cheerleader, never the star of the game. 

When you know who you are, your dreams take form. You know what you want, and why you want it. 

You carve out a path toward the future, and people follow. 

Discover who you are, and your dreams won’t be too far behind. 

REASON 6 — You don't take action.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson (Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, with Annotations — 1841–1844)

Maybe you already dream big, and you even tell others about it excitedly.

Days pass, and you do nothing to make your dreams happen. Days turn into months, and months turn into years.

Your dream is still visible on the horizon, but it slips away like a mirage in the desert.

  • You want to write a book, but you tell yourself you need a PhD first.
  • You want to start a podcast, but you make excuses about how you’re saving up for the right equipment.
  • You want to lose weight, but you’re waiting for the kids to go off to college.

To be fair, maybe some of your “excuses” are legitimate.

But maybe they aren’t.

Be real with yourself and ask whether your limiting condition is necessary. Are there others who have achieved your goal without getting a degree, or while the kids are still at home? If others were successful, were they simply extraordinary, or did they simply make time for it?

Ask yourself how to get started today on your goal, even if it’s just a tiny step in the right direction. Chip away at it. Be intentional about what you do today, because it affects all your tomorrows.

As you get closer to your goal, life becomes exciting again.

It gets boring to hear yourself say, “Yeah, I’m still working on it…”, then doing nothing about it.

You feel like an imposter… because you are.

In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he explains that when we create new habits, we also create a new identity.

For example, it’s difficult to believe you’re a writer if you don’t write.

It’s also difficult to believe you’re healthy when you never work out and clearly fall out of the average BMI for your age and height.

Actions matter. Results matter. Everything we do has a consequence. Even everything we don’t do can have consequences. It takes skill, like learning how to play darts.

Every time you take action towards an expected result, you throw a dart at the target of life.

You’ll likely be bad at it at first. You’ll miss the bulls-eye (and maybe even the entire board itself!). But you’ll practice. And you’ll get better at whatever it is you’re aiming to do.

Actions matter. Results matter. Everything we do has a consequence. Even what we don't do can have consequences. It takes skill, like learning how to play darts.

Joyce Ling, The Abundance Coach Tweet

REASON 7 — You don't have goals.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)​

Part of what makes life exciting is growing; being better today than you were yesterday. Maybe it’s not even about your growth, but about the progress of your family or community.

  • You want to give your kids opportunities you didn’t have.
  • You want to ease the poverty in your neighborhood.
  • You want the roses in your garden to bloom this year.

Not having a goal is like trying to play darts without a dartboard.

Without a goal, you’re just throwing. You do not know if you’re getting worse or better, but you tell yourself you’re enjoying “the process”. And then you wonder why you don’t feel you’re winning.

It’s impossible to win if you don’t know the rules.

Here’s the best part, though.

You get to decide what those rules are.

Maybe your goal is to throw darts in the air and see how close they land to you. Or maybe your goal is to throw them in increasingly silly ways to get people around you to giggle.

To set an effective goal, measure the outcome. Otherwise, we end up lying to ourselves.

REASON 8 — You're comfortable with "boring".

“It’s tough to live with people stuck in the past, isn’t it?”

— J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)

“Boring” is nothing more than a label.

One way to think about labels is to picture an empty box.

Everyone carries around their own “boring” box, but not everyone has the same contents in their box.

What’s boring to one person isn’t boring to another.

So, maybe you just think you’re boring. It immediately bubbles to the surface and out of your mouth when someone asks how you’re doing, or checks in to see what’s new.

When you think about “boring”, maybe you think it’s because you do what everyone else does. Maybe you binge watch true crime and drink wine every night.

But, maybe for someone else, putting wine and true crime in the box isn’t what makes you boring.

“So… you mean I could just put something different in the box and be interesting?”

Yeah. Pretty much.

If you’re honest with yourself, you feel nervous when you think about switching out the contents of your box. It’s a box you’ve been carrying so long you’re not sure you’d like the change in weight.

Often, we find what we’re looking for. If you think you’re boring, you’ll find it. If you think you’re exciting, well… You’ll find it.

What do you want to find?

Often, we find what we're looking for. If you think you're boring, you'll find it. If you think you're exciting, well... You'll find it. What do you want to find?

Joyce Ling, The Abundance Coach Tweet

REASON 9 — You don't realize "exciting" is actually boring.

“Only teenagers think boring is bad. Adults, grown men and women who’ve been around the block a few times, know that boring is a gift straight from God. Life has more than enough excitement up its sleeve, ready to hit you with as soon as you’re not looking, without you adding to the drama.”

— Tana French

Have you ever woken up after a bizarre dream, then told someone about it?

99% of the time, the dream is boring as fuck, and we all know it.

I mean, I can’t really remember what happened in the dream, but just trust me, it was WILD…

Mmk. Sure.

Or, have you ever had someone try to explain an inside joke, and ultimately it ends with them saying, “Oh man, you just had to be there!”?

Alright, dude. Very helpful.

Or, remember those days when your stoned classmates felt like they had discovered the secrets of the universe?

“Bro… Like… The universe is connected. When I look at those trees, they look like they’re alive, bro. But when I look away, they DIE. Bro, we AFFECT things.

Yeah. No shit, Sherlock.

Maybe what we’ve believed is exciting isn’t actually exciting at all. Maybe living an exciting life isn’t about slinging back shots on your yacht and partying with babes. Maybe it’s not about “playing the field” and making so much money you don’t know what to do with it.

All those things are a means to an end.

The end is happiness and living a regret-free life.

The “boring” stuff, like stability, calmness, and control, can often allow you to pursue the life of your dreams.

It might look like:

  • Getting up at 5am to work on your goals
  • Staying in when your friends are going out
  • Drinking tea on a quiet Sunday morning, hangover-free, focused, and comfortable in your fuzzy robe

You get to decide what excitement looks like for you. And I’m not just talking about the short-term, but the long-term, too. Ask yourself, what’s really going to matter in 10 years? Or 20 years? What about on your deathbed?

What's really going to matter in 10 years? Or 20 years? What about on your deathbed?

Joyce Ling, The Abundance Coach Tweet

In the book Top Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, she explores the regrets of people at the end of their lives.

Here are the top five she heard most often:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wished I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Think about the choices you make on a day-to-day basis. Every action compounds over time, no matter how small you might think it is. One night of Netflix likely won’t do much, but after countless nights of watching TV and doing nothing else, your soul feels like it’s shrivelling a bit.

There’s still time.

There’s still time to discover what you’re passionate about, to live a life that excites you.

What will you be known for? What kind of life will you be proud to have lived? What stories will you pass down to the next generation?

Start asking those questions, and your life will start looking a little different.

Join a community of dreamers & creators that keep it simple with some good ol’ fashioned hustling! Our weekly challenge is an easy, free way to get accountability and boost your productivity, and still make it in time for dinner-yes, even the five whole steps to the kitchen while working from home 😉 

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