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How Being Bored Helped Me Discover My True Purpose in Life


When I’m bored, I read. And when I read, I get all sorts of ideas.

Lately, I have been reading a brilliant book called The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New FutureΒ by Chris Guillebeau. And, today, when I read I started to think of a quote from George Bernard Shaw, a quote I seemed to have forgotten, but here it is, all because I’m bored and reading:

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, MAKE THEM.

The quote is not from The $100 Startup, but reading the book made me think of the quote and believe that it is true that we can do whatever we want in life. And I just love the thought.

I am bored, but I know that I can do whatever I want in life.

When I am bored I think about time

What is time? Really. For most people it’s just the hours of the day. It’s no big mystery. When I’m bored the first that comes to mind is usually the question, how long will I be bored this time; minutes, hours, days? Even when I’m reading a book, I might be thinking, when will it stop?

But, today is a different day. Being bored made me read the book, that made me think of the quote and now I’m thinking about what things used to be like when I was young and bored, and I ended creating a huge discussion about the past.

I’ll be brief.

Society has changed a lot since I was a young boy. I am not sure if I remember everything the way it was, but just say that I do (just for the sake of my arguments). One thing that I remember is that people didn’t use to combine work and personal life as much back then. I wrote a post about we’re all marketers, and it wasn’t like that thirty years ago. We didn’t have Facebook, but I am not sure if Facebook is what changed society. It might be that the type of jobs has changed, or that people are more passionate about what they do now. I actually don’t know. But to me, it seems that people are more busy than ever. And that most people don’t have the time to get bored. I used to get bored a lot. I am bored right now, but that’s nothing compared to the past.

So, I’m reading the book, thinking about the quote, and thinking about the past, and asking myself questions about if people should hustle to separate personal and business, or if everything is suppose to be one? Is it better to work a set of hours and that’s it, and stop thinking about work when we’re back home?

On the other hand. Work should be about a passion, and when it is, we can’t really stop thinking about it. But, I guess it kind of depends on if it shows that we’re working 24/7 or not – that’s what many are worrying about.

Remember, I got this from being bored.

When I am bored I think about space

Most of the time, I don’t work inside an office. I work where I belong. Sometimes I’m at home, sometimes I’m where the wind takes me. And tomorrow I might be on a train.

I am bored and I’m at the office. I feel like I am encarcerated. And the reason I feel it, is because I’m bored. And I don’t have any windows and I can’t hear any sounds. It’s all just too quiet. And, dark.

Quiet and dark is either scary or boring.

I work where I belong, but I still do some of my best work inside an office. But not right now, and that’s why I shouldn’t be here. What I usually do is that I add various tasks to specific places. When I walk, I do my creative work, when I’m at a mountain overlooking the sea, I’ll do my reading. And when I’m living in a tent, I’ll prepare my ebooks. I’ll do most of my writing when I’m at the office. So why be inside when I’m not writing?

No wonder why I am bored.

Do what makes your heart sing

It started out by being bored. And I ended up thinking about a sentence. I am not sure where I first read this sentence, but I’ve read it, that’s for sure. And it stuck with me, like the quote from George Bernard Shaw. Do what makes your heart sing. That’s it.

Being bored is not that bad. It can actually be a wonderful experience. I am thinking, being bored is the reason why I found my true purpose in life.

Do what makes your heart sing.

40 responses to “How Being Bored Helped Me Discover My True Purpose in Life”

  1. Bill Dorman says:

    Yes, being bored can lead to creative and different thinking if you let it; just let it in.

    • It’s great to be bored, but only for a few hours, that’s it. And as long as I have a plan every time I get bored, I don’t have a problem with it.

      You probably thought that I eat pizza every time I’m bored, but if I did, I would probably try to be bored all the time πŸ™‚

  2. Jens,

    Those moments where you can actually sit or go for a walk and really relax without distractions. That’s the best way to experience a “boring” time πŸ˜‰ And those times are when you have those eureka moments, so says Jonah Lehrer in his new book.

    • True. I walk every single day, and that’s not actually the boring time, it’s carefully planned time where I do my creative work πŸ™‚

      I’ve never heard of Jonah Lehrer, I’ll have to take a closer look at his books. Which one is his latest book and do you recommend it?

  3. Josepgh Hipolito says:

    Wow that really cool sir Jens, nice to see this post I love it..

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience – When I read through the article the first thing that popped up in my mind was – when last did I even have time to be bored? I think you’ve just made me realize its time for an overdue vacation and break from work.

    • Hey Anton,

      I believe that we need to be a little bored in order to understand what’s happening around us. When we’re too busy to be bored, we sometimes miss the small things in life. And to me the small things in life is many times what makes me smile πŸ™‚

  5. Yea right, getting bored can lead to something productive if we think in the right direction. But for me, thinking also becomes a challenge when I am bored…so I end up being more bored than ever and will lead to depression. I am better off without that πŸ™‚

    • That’s exactly why I always read (or watch a movie) when I’m bored. I would never be creative or think of anything useful if I was just bored without actually doing something. So, reading forces my mind to think and that’s awesome πŸ™‚

  6. Mark says:

    Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I experienced being bored. I need to work on that one!

    My kids know never to tell me they are bored. I’m an expert at finding chores to fill in with their ‘boredness’ time : )

    Actually, I don’t associate my creative thinking time with being bored. In that case, I get bored everyday!

    Have a nice weekend Jens : )

    • I dont think you should ever be bored! There is nothing wrong with you. Do you really read a book because you are bored? Then you are not bored because you are reading? I forget who told me but we should always be comfortable even if we are sitting peacefully doing absolutely nothing. A lot of people have a very tough time with this. Im glad you found a way to use it to your advantage πŸ™‚

    • It might sound a bit strange, but I love being bored. I am never bored for a long time, and when I am bored I always read and help myself think of new things to do. So bored is part of who I am and a way to get myself to accomplish new (and creative) things.

      I never add too many things to my to-do list, I always add time to do something I haven’t planned. And that’s the time when, if I can’t find something to do right then, might end up getting bored instead (and that’s when I read) πŸ™‚

  7. Adrienne says:

    I can also see why being bored could lead you to thinking about all sorts of things Jens.

    I’m a lot older than you but I remember my younger days. I think that it’s technology that has made people’s lives so busy and entwined. When I was a kid we had to play outside because we weren’t allowed to sit in front of the TV. But there wasn’t as much on TV back then either. We certainly didn’t have any other type of entertainment.

    I also remember when my brother and I were young, probably early teens, we started understanding that we didn’t have to be like our parents. So following in their footsteps wasn’t something we just assumed would happen. Not if we didn’t want to.

    I can’t imagine you ever being bored Jens. You always seem to have so much on your mind and are so creative. But even when you are you share it with us in wonderful ways.

    Enjoy your weekend Jens.


    • I keep thinking about the past and I love to try to figure out what the future might bring, but based on the past vs the present, it’s fairly hard to predict the future πŸ™‚

      I remember how little I used to watch TV when I was young compared to how much time my kids are watching the TV right now. My son could sit in front of the TV for many hours every single day, I probably watched TV for 1 hour a week (if I was lucky). But it was different times and we only had 3 channels on the TV (1 Norwegian and 2 Swedish) πŸ™‚

  8. Jack says:

    I always say that it is dangerous to get bored because that is when I get into trouble, but I suppose it all depends on how you channel that energy.

    I can see how boredom would lead to coming up with a lot of different ideas. It can be a very useful tool.

  9. Sergio Felix says:

    Hey Jens,

    To be honest I don’t remember when was the last time I was bored but maybe I do get bored and don’t notice it.

    As far as how things used to be, this is something I think about all the time:

    When people traveled to far distances before, the first thing you wanted to see was the pictures.

    These days, you can see whatever you want in seconds just using the Internet so when someone posts a picture being at some place famous, we are like “okay, you have been there, great… what else?”

    That really kills me but hey, whenever I go see something for myself and get impressed, I smile and I’m glad that the Internet can’t provide you those experiences.

    Sorry to write so out of context but these are my thoughts on that matter.


    • Hey Sergio,

      Yes, that’s something I truly miss. I remember how it was like when people traveled and we could sit and talk for hours and look at the images. Now, like you said, we see the images when they’re there, and many times we can sit and watch their trip online. That’s awesome too, but a completely different experience.

  10. Paul Jackson says:

    Hi Jens-Petter!

    With this article of yours, i remember a quote from Confucius relating to work, “choose a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life”. I still believe though that work and personal life should have a fine line in between. Things have changed, it is not quite as laid back before. Everyone seems to be in a fast paced lifestyle and you have to keep yourself abreast. In the process you kind of neglect some things that are worth spending your time and attention to. Time, i believe is the most precious thing a man holds. Some elder told me that you can measure how important you are to a person through the time he spends with you. My favorite part in your article is the last part, where you can do whatever your heart sings when you are bored. I like it when i’m bored, it makes me think of other things than work. So bored is a good thing! Somehow i see it as a luxury in this fast pacing era.

    • Hey Paul,

      That’s a wonderful quote from Confucius. That’s a quote I’ll remember, that’s for sure πŸ™‚

      I don’t know if there is a right answer to the question about if work and personal should be separated or not, and if it should be, how separated should they be? For instance, I am currently working from home, and it means that I’m litterary at work all the time. But in a few weeks, I’ll get an office outside of my home, and I’m thinking that I’ll just be working when I’m at the office eventhough I know that I’ll probably keep working at home as well πŸ™‚

      • Paul Jackson says:

        I’m glad you liked the quote Jens! Well, in that case, that would really be hard to separate work from personal stuff since your office is within the vicinity of your home. I guess then it would boil down to the time that you are going to devote to work. I mean, there were occasions that i had to work home, but even though the kitchen is just a few step away:), i made it a priority to focus on work and not leave my desk until i finish it no matter what was going on around. But, good question, how separated they should be?

  11. Lisa says:

    Since I have had a smart phone I’ve rarely bored anymore. When I do get bored waiting in line I hope on Twitter, FB or anywhere on the web to try to learn something new or connect with others. I can’t imagine people getting bored as often as they once did with all the technology available 24/7. I sure remember as a kid getting bored all the time and summers seemed to last forever. I would daydream πŸ™‚ Sometimes the best ideas do come from daydreams – maybe we should all try it more.

    • Hey Lisa,

      That’s true. Whenever I have 20 seconds left, I take a look at my iPhone and start doing something. Actually I use my iPhone a lot more than I thought I would, and if you combine that with how much I use my iPad, it’s hard to understand that I can get bored at all πŸ™‚

  12. Ralph says:

    Hey Jens, is it being bored or is it taking time out to do nothing. A while back I think you wrote a piece about taking a walk in the park and how that inspired you to some great ideas. Is this not the same sort of idea?

    I like the thoughts here and the opportunity that reading brings to creative spark. i take the same attitude with me each day and is a big part of why i read many of the blogs that I do. A real learning opportunity in all these spaces; books, blogs and magazine articles.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Ralph,

      It’s sort of the same, but the difference is that when I walk, I do it in order to get inspiration and to be close to nature etc.. so, I am not bored. When I am bored I usually just get bored without thinking about it. It just sort of happens, and as soon as I start reading a book (like I do whenever I get bored) I start thinking πŸ™‚

      So it’s not really the same, but related πŸ™‚

  13. Michael says:

    I hated the fact of being bored. But you have a very interesting article. Whenever I get bored I find something that needs to be done, and once that’s over with, I’m at peace. It feels relaxing once you become bored and you have everything done. I find it that boredom is actually the perfect opportunity to do something that you love, something exciting.

  14. Great post! This all reminds me of what I was a year ago. I was tormented going to the office every day (actually, every night because I was working in a night shift) for over 7 years. I was stressed, bored, and helpless. It was during those bored moments that I realized that I had put an end to it lest I’ll suffer forever. I decided to pursue what I’m truly passionate about. And I really feel relieved and great! πŸ™‚

    • Hi Caryl,

      That’s awesome. I understand how you feel, I’ve been going through a similar experience.

      What’s your true passion? I’d love to hear more about it.

      • What I’m really passionate about is blogging and marketing. So, I’m pursuing them together–I blog and I currently marketing home furniture and furnishings πŸ™‚ Though its all in a work-in-progress, I’m happy to wake up everyday doing the things that I really love. Everything make sense to me right now. Though there are many challenges, which includes unlearning and learning new stuff, but I feel the adrenaline rush. And I simply love it πŸ™‚

        Let me just quote Steve Job, which a lot of us are too familiar with:
        “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

  15. Albert says:

    Interesting perspective. Being bored allows one to think, which can be good. If we all sat down and did this (I have) it would be helpful. Just be glad that happened. Keep up the good work sending your message.

  16. Albert says:

    This could be. You mentioned circumstances. Happy people have circumstances to deal with like other people do. They look at it differently. Instead of dwelling on unfairness they make the most of the situation.

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