Seven tips for beating boredom

Children say they’re bored. Teens say it. Adults often talk about boredom. Being quarantined hasn’t helped the problem, so let me offer some sincere advice for getting a life and squelching boredom.

Boredom: “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

The only time I’ve ever been bored in my life was when I was too sick to read. Now that, my friends, is boredom! Hours passed, and I wasn’t able to do anything at all. I always pity those who can’t read and write. How much they miss! For me, reading is the first thing I do in the morning and the last I do at night. I read a lot … and fast. I absorb a lot of useful, distracting, educational, and totally useless information each day. (I’m not proud of the useless stuff. But, you’ve been on social media, too….) Writing is akin to reading, except that it’s output instead of input—and it’s a lot harder to get right. I am constantly working on bettering my writing. (Please say you notice.)

“Being weary and restless” is a normal result of working and thinking. Boredom is getting to that point because of  “lack of interest.” Sad, indeed.

Let’s address the problem of “lack of interest” and make some practical applications and helps after that.

I fully believe that children, teens, and adults are bored because they have too much, not too little. Why do women go for “shopping therapy” when there’s not a thing they actually need? Why are children bored when they have two hundred toys in their room—and a back yard to play in? Why are teens bored, while they are constantly texting and chatting with friends? Why are men bored, even though they’re working all the time? I believe it’s because we aren’t content. We’re not engaged in real life.

The Apostle Paul spoke of contentment—while under house arrest and suffering depravations and cold. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (Philippians 4:11). But godliness with contentment is great gain. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:6, 8).

The author of Hebrews admonished: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

So, how can we change into content, happy individuals who have something profitable to do and aren’t at a loss? Let me share seven principles that might help you.

  1. Less is more. This goes for almost any area in life. Less junk, food choices, furniture, clothing, less on one’s calendar, less activities for children, kitchen gadgets, etc. Less is better. When your parents were young, there simply was a different culture, yet they grew up knowing how to play and enjoy life. They read, hiked, biked, and traveled. They had actual—not virtual—friends with whom they laughed, talked, and visited. (They still have those same friends, by the way.) They knew how to put together old and new. Eclectic style was fine—and homey. They bought quality clothes but less of them. They understood how to mix and match. They weren’t minimalists, but they understood the value of having what you enjoy but not too much. That went for activities, too. Your parents didn’t overcommit themselves or you, and you got to grow up with family times, make memories, have free time to run around outside and be a child.
  2. Contentment can be learned. The Apostle Paul said so, and it’s true. If you’re not content now, with what you have at this moment, you’ll never be content. Contentment begins in the heart, with knowing Jesus. Once your heart is satisfied, you can begin the process of learning to be content in any situation.
  3. Teach your children alternatives to boredom. When a child says, “I’m bored,” he needs something to do—hands on and brain engaged. What would interest your child? Your artistic child might need paper and markers. Your musical child might need to be reminded to practice piano. Your mechanical child might enjoy getting out some Legos or K’nex. Read your children a book. Or, maybe they’d enjoy helping you in the kitchen or helping Daddy with a car repair or washing. Involve your children with you in life, and show them what to do when they’ve lost interest in other things.
  4. Unplug. You may have noticed I haven’t recommended handing your kids a tablet, putting on a movie, or uploading another video game. It’s absolutely fine to see a movie as a family or play clean video games sometimes, but the best way to learn contentment is to be away from gadgets for chunks of time each day. Really live. Really connect with others. Really enjoy doing normal life skills and work. And, for kids, really enjoy making up their own play.
  5. Learn thankfulness. If you really want to be content, you’ll have to learn to be thankful. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Hebrews 13:15).
  6. Make a mental (or physical) list of possible activities you enjoy. When you’re bored, what can you do? Take a walk outside—with your phone or camera. Look for beauty. Read that book you haven’t gotten to. Write an encouraging note to someone. Organize meals for next week. Visit Aunt Polly. Bake brownies. I don’t know what makes you happy, but I’m sure you can come up with at least five or six options for when you’re feeling like you need to change things up—and not be bored. You could even make lists for your children of possibilities they may not have thought of.
  7. When you don’t know what to do, ask the Lord. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). He will help you think of something that’s profitable.

God wants us to be content.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation (Psalm 68:19).

Thoughts on Jesus’ model prayer

The Lord’s Prayer provides a model, and I hadn’t looked at parts of it the way I do now.

As we know, prayer is communication with God. It involves petition, praise, sharing, baring the heart, pleading, groaning, interceding for others, and more. Prayer also involves listening to what the Lord has to say. Prayer is supposed to be two-way communication. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah (Psalm 4:4). I personally like the word “communion” for prayer. It’s us sharing with God and God sharing with us.

God’s part includes Jesus interceding for us and the Holy Spirit interpreting our prayers to God the Father. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).

He also provides guidance. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye (Psalm 32:8).

Let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer again, and examine the “new” concepts in it. Jesus is speaking to His disciples: After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).

How many times do we think about God the Father, His name, and His kingdom? I don’t know about you, but I usually crank up my prayer time with talking and asking instead of meditating on God Himself. I confess I’ve seldom prayed for His kingdom to come. How about you?

Thy will be done. I read a book about a grandmother known for her effective praying. One of the things she did was make sure she first knew God’s will about the object of prayer and then pray for that. (You can read my review of that book, here.) God still wants His will done in the earth.

It is so easy to throw up our hands when we see all the sinfulness around us: amorality, secularism, and many people who never consider God. But, look at the Lord’s model prayer: Thy will be done in the earth, as it is in heaven. That’s the way we’re supposed to pray. Looking toward perfection—heaven—and sinlessness, we’re supposed to pray for the world that way.

The truth is, God’s divine purposes will happen. They’re already programmed, and we’re instructed by God Himself to pray for God’s will on earth, just like it’s done in heaven. We look forward to Jesus’ reign and ultimately, the New Jerusalem when we pray this way.

The first petition comes next: Give us this day our daily bread. I’ve always found this fascinating. It’s not, “Give us this day a new pair of shoes, or a nice, new house.” It is the practical human need for food. It isn’t steak, fruit, or a salad, either. It’s basic: bread. The Lord promises to meet our need. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). The Bible says we’re supposed to learn contentment and to be satisfied with two needs met: And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). I think it’s worth pointing out that it doesn’t mention a roof over one’s head. Consider Jesus. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Luke 9:58).

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. At first, this language may seem to be about business debts and transactions, but the Lord makes it very clear after the amen that it’s about forgiving—those hurts, slights, and words, as well as actual crimes against us. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15). God’s daily forgiveness after salvation is contingent on our forgiving others.

As far as I can tell, this forgiveness doesn’t have to be only if the offending person has asked for forgiveness—although that’s ideal. We are to forgive in obedience to the Lord. Just do it.

Some people say, “forgive and forget.” That, too, is an ideal. It’s great when you can actually forgive and never think about that offense again. I believe it’s possible in most cases. But, there are some awful hurts that we bear from time to time, and those are difficult to forget. Some hurts are like scratches. They heal easily and are soon forgotten. Others are like stab wounds. They hit nerves and cause scars. Those are hard to completely forget.

I would love to be more like God, who has put our sins away forever. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). He has a very good forgetter. Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:12b).

Let’s make forgiving others a regular part of our prayers.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Now, we know that God doesn’t lead anyone into temptation. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (James 1:13). I believe this is speaking of asking for God’s protection from temptation and deliverance from evil and harm.

God protects His people, according to His will. I am not sure how this works, but we indeed have “guardian angels.” For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (Psalm 91:11). This verse from Psalms is quoted two times in the New Testament, also. I’m not sure we always know when we’ve had divine protection, but the fact is, we do.

Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Jesus’ model prayer ends reflecting the beginning—acknowledging God’s power and glory and His kingdom, which is to come. It also speaks of God’s eternal authority over man.  

Amen. Let it be so.

Shopping therapy

I love to shop. For sure, I can shop ’til I drop. That’s about three to four hours, but I do it with complete abandon, a smile on my face, and my eyes darting back and forth to discover anything new and interesting. Shopping is therapy for me.

I confess I rarely buy anything. I window-shop—but more than that, I actually window-shop inside stores, as well. Is that called aisle-shopping? I don’t know.

My favorite stores are home furnishings, but I love a good variety store, antique shop, art gallery, or department store. I like quirky things. I especially love it when little “rooms” are decorated, so you can actually see the possibilities. My imagination goes wild! Inspiration overload.

I enjoy clothing stores less—because I rarely find anything I like in my size that looks good on me with a price I’m willing to pay. Clothes shopping does nothing for my good humor. Shoe shopping is even worse—but I’ll spare you.

I rarely get to do my shopping-’til-dropping escapades, and perhaps that’s a good thing. The malls where we live in Spain only have one home decoration store—nice but pricey. I still might find myself spending a short afternoon at a mall, just for fun—about once every two years. But, in the United States…. The possibilities are endless.

Michelangelo once proclaimed, “Gazing at beautiful things acts on my soul.” I totally agree with him.

I love to shop with my sister, who should start her own business of where to find what and how to outfit a person in one afternoon. I also enjoy shopping with our daughter, who tells me honestly what she thinks and keeps me from being “too old lady.”

Is shopping your therapy?

Which do you prefer: window-shopping or actually buying things?

Do you get a kick out of using your credit card ’til it smokes and buying a whole new wardrobe, pricey make-up, doing your hair and nails at the salon, and changing the living room furniture …

finding yourself overspending?

Dave Ramsey once said, “We often overspend because we are trying to fill an emotional gap in our lives. No object will ever satisfy your soul.”

It is one of the reasons we spend money—that emotional gap. We collect things because they make us feel somehow comfortable. Spending on ourselves makes us feel momentarily happy. After all, we deserve that treat. (Not so.)

Soon, we’re right back at the same low emotional place, and we’re tempted to spend even more money in order to feel good again.

We realize things don’t do it.

We’re not alone. Many post milennials are going minimalist because they’ve learned that living in a junked-up house is tiring. Too much stuff means too much to clean, put away, and it produces mental clutter and oppression. The decorating pendulum has swung the other way. Now, we enjoy clean surfaces, less is more, and invite Marie Kondo into our closet so we can learn to fold and roll.

Back in the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau decided to camp out at Walden Pond and enjoy a simple life (where he only stayed two years, by the way). He said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

“He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.” (Swedish proverb)

I think that’s true.

Is it sinful to go shopping? Of course not.

Is it wrong to overspend? Yes, we’re responsible to God to manage what He has given us. Jesus tells his disciples a parable about an unjust steward. It’s talking about money (here called mammon), and the parable concludes: He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:10-11, 13).

God says you either serve Him or money, not both. When we overspend, we haven’t been faithful with the money God has entrusted to us. We become slaves to money—since we owe it.

The remedy for overspending, of course, is contentment. Are we content with what we have right now? Can we be okay not spending crazily?

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). Do we have something to eat and wear? Yep.

Let your conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

Our relationship with God is sufficient for our contentment. His presence alone should bring us joy.

I’ll close with an unattributed quote I found on Pinterest: “It costs $0.00 to be grateful for what you already have.”