How to cope with boredom and work overload? Is it right to talk about these two issues in the same post? After all, these are two opposite problems! But they are not! They both describe two unpleasant feelings: In the first case your day is wasted without you having excitement and interest and in the second case your day is wasted because you will not be able to do what you think you must do at a given time. Both are caused by anxiety, and as I have written several times in this blog: Solving anxiety does not go through taking anxiolytics, but in treating the reason that caused the anxiety.
(By the way, I suggest you also to read what I wrote in the post "How to cope with problems in life" on anxiety in these cases:
- Being too lazy to do anything
- Being too busy to do everything)
As you will see, the real reason is completely different from the reason we tend to think:
1) We are not bored:
- (Wrong reasons we give ourselves):
Because we have nothing to do, because nothing interests us, because we are worth nothing, or there is nothing interesting for people our age, in our city or in our country ...
- But (The good reason): Because we did not ask ourselves: "What are our goals at this stage of life?" We will expand on this later. We will realize that when we ask this question and answer it, the ideas that come to us about "what to do" come in bundles and at lightning speed. We quickly move on to the pleasant feeling that we are not bored at all and our schedule is full (satisfaction). We also move after a while to the opposite problem: "We are overloaded!" But as you will also see this problem is solvable too!
2) Also, we do not have a work overload:
- (Wrong reasons we give ourselves)
Because there are only 24 hours a day, because we do not have the energy of others or the one we once had, because we are too young, too old, too weak, too stupid or too sick, because the work we have put on ourselves or we have imposed on ourselves is too hard ...
- But (Because we do not manage our priorities correctly).
All human beings, both the busiest and the most inactive ones switch from more or less large periods of boredom, to more or less large periods of activity with transition periods of satisfaction.
We need to know:
- That it's completely normal.
- That it happens to everyone!
The feeling of boredom is completely normal and happens to everyone, even the busiest people. Like any anxiety, it is only a signal that we need to change or perhaps refine the tasks we have assigned to ourselves. Similarly, the feeling that you are "too busy" is also completely normal and also happens to those who do almost nothing. Again, this is just a signal that we need to rethink our priorities. For example, we may shamelessly give up some things that may be important to us to some extent, but that are not a top priority right now.
You hear more people complaining that they have too many things to do than too little. The reason is that it flatters their ego. ("Look at me how busy I am!")
Similarly to this compliment to our ego, it takes some amount of humility to move from what I described earlier as wrong reasons we give ourselves to the real reasons. (Because the wrong reasons compliment us). Even if we learn the real reasons, we will repeatedly fall into feelings of boredom or work overload. Each time, we will have to remember the cure for these problems.
First of all, a personal example: learning English
Lately, I have decided to work on improving my English. The reasons for this were:
- Because before that, I suffered from inaction, which caused boredom.
- Because I love this language.
- Because I want to erase from my memory situations where I failed in my work, just because my English wasn’t good enough.
At first, I approached this goal with enthusiasm. I signed up for an oral conversation course with a private tutor three times a week, and at the same time I searched and found several sites where English was taught.
After a while, I started to get excited about studying. Until I saw that I didn't have enough time to finish all of my homework.
As I know myself from the past, in this case I would tend to panic because of work overload, and get addicted to this activity at the expense of much more important activities. (Here again, an example of wrong reasons we give ourselves).
Instead, these positive thoughts came to me:
- Don't panic! No one is pressuring you!
- Do not be as addicted to English as you were once addicted to chess when you were young. If you become addicted, it will be at the expense of other important things, and know that it will also not be good for the object of addiction itself (learning English in this case), which will become routine and ineffective instead of renewing itself every time.
- Do not be a perfectionist! After all, you will never speak like a native. Let's recall again the example of chess: I once dreamed of being a great champion. This or nothing else!
So, I decided to slow down. Until I got bored again: I was bored hearing lessons about pronunciation or grammar. So, I thought about adding something to my study goals. I decided to translate all my posts into English and French. At the same time, I found pen friends with whom, I correspond in English. Because of this change I made in my goals, I moved on to a period of satisfaction.
When boredom came again, I later thought:
"Basically, you can do anything with English: read newspapers, books, listen to podcasts and movies. By doing so, you will engage in a wide variety of things" (You will not be addicted).
So far, you've seen the cycle: Boredom -> Changing goals -> satisfaction -> Work overload -> Change priorities -> Satisfaction -> Boredom, etc.
Second example: Torah learning
In this example, I will talk about the goals of the students in their sacred studies, in my view. How the management of these goals for each person can be conducted in an ideal way to fit into the circle:
Boredom -> Changing goals -> Satisfaction -> Work Overload -> Changing priorities -> Satisfaction -> Boredom, etc.
I know that some of the things I write deviate far from the subject of our post: boredom. I just hope I do not bore you, dear readers! 😊
- I will mention here that I am secular, but that like any person, I am interested in the questions of morality.
- I noticed that all religions started with Judaism, ended with Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, Buddhism that if I am not mistaken, does not claim to be a religion, and all secular philosophies respect the same values: truth, justice, beauty, freedom, love of others ... and it is no wonder that this is the case: for all the prophets and all the philosophers have delved into the same thing and that is: the human soul, and have therefore reached the same conclusions.
It is not obvious that this will be the case. There were indeed philosophies that argued for a different order of values: for example, Nazism which espoused the value of the “master-race” which preceded by their approach to values such as freedom, truth and love of others. But these philosophies went bankrupt very quickly.
Two more things about these values:
- They are relative and change with the knowledge accumulated in the science and spirit of the period. For example, regarding the truth: what is right for a particular person is not necessarily true for a second person.
- As a result, when there is a marked contradiction between a particular commandment and a human value such as the one we mentioned, the value and not the commandment must be respected. In Judaism, for example, there is the rule: "Life takes precedence over Shabbat." (The Reformers go even further in adapting the commandments to the spirit of the period). In contrast, one can think of the most horrible crimes committed in the name of God. In this case, the people preferred the word-by-word interpretation to its spirit.
Why do you actually need to study Torah?
If I ask such a question to an extremely religious person, he will tell me that my very question is nothing but a blasphemy:
- What does it mean "Why should one study Torah?" Because the Torah is sacred!
- And why is it sacred?
- Because God wrote it!
- Where is such a thing written?
- In the Torah!
- And why must it be true if it is written?
- Because the Torah is holy!
- and so
I hope my religious friends will forgive me for my dark humor. Again, I respect human values and with it the Torah that has translated these values into the commandments we must observe. And also respects a religion like Christianity which in its opinion the promise given to Israel in what it calls the "Old Testament" (what we call the "Bible") has been extended to all mankind.
So, what are the different and changing goals over time in Torah study, in my opinion?
- To know how to adapt our behavior to what is written in the Torah. This goal cannot be the sole goal in Torah study. Because if not, it was enough that just some great men in the Torah would learn it and tell others how to behave, and not that everyone would learn Torah, even the simplest people.
- Uphold the tradition. Tradition is such an important thing that the vast majority of seculars observe it, each according to their understanding. After all, if there were no Passover Seder, for example, we would not feel the cycles of time and there would be no reason to gather the whole family at least once a year.
- Secure your place in the next world. If you have read what I wrote in the post "My vision of Death", I know there is a Next World. (And I say "know there is" and not "believe there is", it all depends on what meaning we give to the term “Next World.” Read what I wrote in the post.
- Learn all the time how to adapt our values that are eternal to the spirit of the different periods.