I have lost count of how many times my kids plopped down on the couch and said, “I’m bored.” It got to be such a common occurrence one summer; I warned them that if I heard that phrase again, I would give them chores. Apparently, those inspiring words were enough to get them to find something fulfilling to do.
We have all felt bored at times. We find ourselves looking for something to do, but aren’t sure where to start. What are we looking for in life? This is one of those existential questions that humanity has struggled with for thousands of years. We all want to have rich and full lives, but there is more than one path to having that. It’s our goal to determine which way works best for us. One thing is for sure; we won’t find enrichment sitting on our butts.
Enrichment requires movement, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. This movement gives our lives meaning. Otherwise, we live like an animal trapped in a cage constructed by our indifference.
It’s easy for animals at a zoo to get bored. Zookeepers provide enrichment to prevent boredom, along with weight gain and depression, by hiding bits of food around the habitats. The animals forage for it much like they would in their natural environment.
Enrichment is especially crucial for the primates. The keepers will put peas between pages of phone books, tuck tidbits under the bark of trees, or even freeze chunks of food in blocks of ice on a hot summer day. Searching out the food stimulates the brain and provides a healthier lifestyle for the animals.
Just as the animals need to forage for enrichment, so do we. Living an enriched life will require us to seek it out. We need to gain as many new experiences as possible. The Internet has a wealth of knowledge and examples, but many of us don’t utilize that knowledge. Instead, we waste our time checking our feeds on social media, or watching videos of other people doing interesting things.
It’s okay to keep up with friends, but we shouldn’t live vicariously through their lives. We need to look up from our phones and experience the world around us. We need to look up and live. We need to get off of our butts and be.
- Meet new people – Put aside “stranger danger,” and start up a conversation with someone you don’t know sitting on the bus or standing in line. This new connection quite possibly could grow into a new friendship. At the very least, it will break up the monotony of waiting.
- Experience a new culture – Different cultures expose us to new foods and music, but also new perspectives. Many times foreign can be fun. Of course, you don’t have to travel the world to find a new culture, even the household next door may have a different way of doing things.
- Try a new sport or hobby – We don’t need to become professional athletes or renowned artists to gain enrichment. Simply trying our hand at knitting or pickleball can fulfill those needs. Learning these new skills will have you getting a little exercise or creating something special.
- Volunteer – Giving our time to others is incredibly enriching. We can learn new skills or expand the ones we have and improve the lives of others in our community. We can gain enrichment and provide it at the same time.
- Read – We get a pass on sitting with this one, but we should consider expanding our literary boundaries. Instead of reading what is easy or what we like most, we should find something above our reading level or a different genre. Reading in this fashion can expand our knowledge and enrich our lives.
Doing things just outside of our comfort zone can help us grow. There is a well-known quote by Joshua J. Marine, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Challenges enrich our lives, but we can’t achieve them sitting down. We need to get up and seek them out.
With a little effort, we can have a full and rich life, one that is worth sharing with others and perhaps inspiring them to get up and grow.