I do not know what it is to be bored. However, when I do find something boring, I tend to daydream (or, as a writer would say, brainstorm), which makes it excruciatingly difficult to complete mind-numbing and tedious tasks, such as assignments for my computer concepts class (I don’t believe you can be bored to death, but I do believe you can be bored to tears). I could really use that drug from “Limitless” (the movie with Bradley Cooper) during those times, but caffeine and a good tutor will have to suffice.
Of course, drugs are often the answer; sometimes, they’re the right answer, like when I had strep throat. However, taking a drug to keep from feeling any sort of negative emotion doesn’t seem healthy, unless it is so severe, that it wipes out any positivity in one’s life. I find my class boring because it is (to me). I’m not sure if I need a drug to focus, because I have laser-like focus in my ethics/philosophy class. I think I pretty much remember everything my professors says because it interests me. Questions that can have more than one answer intrigue me, and of course, writing is part of the course.
I never cared much for coloring in the lines when I was a kid either. I would add my own pictures to the existing one, but I was happiest with just a blank sheet of paper. I am a creator, but a discoverer, not so much. I’d rather draw a skeleton than unearth one like an archaeologist.
I recently learned that it is okay (by an early childhood expert) to let kids be bored sometimes. That’s when they learn to use their imagination and figure things out for themselves. I always thought it was my duty as a parent to see that my child was never bored, and whenever my daughter would fuss, I’d run and try to distract her from her boredom (or what I assumed was boredom, as all her other needs were met). Though I still set aside times for her to “learn through play, the Montessori way” with me as her teacher, I realize how valuable unstructured playtime is. That was when I was most creative–when I was left to my own devices and imagination.
I’m not so sure about letting your child be unhappy (for there has to be a reason, whether it be they’re hungry, need changing, affection, etc.), but I do know that it would be exhausting to be happy all the time. When I’m unhappy, sometimes I just want to be left alone to work it out; I don’t want anyone trying to cheer me up, because then I feel like I have to get happy, or I’m not being a good sport. I don’t need a drug, I’m just experiencing a normal human emotion.
That said, I wrote an essay for my ethics class about this very thing (I didn’t choose the prompt, my professor did). I don’t usually post my college papers online, but this tied in perfectly with my post.
Is the right to be unhappy a desirable right to exercise? Savage, of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” quotes, “I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” Is the right to be unhappy desirable only because it is a right?
Mr. Huxley goes on to write, “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”
Science fiction often depicts the absence of sadness as an absence of happiness (for can one exist without the other?), in which at least a majority of the population have become mindless automatons. If one would ask rational human beings if they would prefer happiness over autonomy, most would choose the latter. Few want their happiness chosen for them, for what one person would consider a happy existence, another might not. Autonomy is considered essential to one’s happiness, even though having one’s autonomy intact might lead to decisions that lead to unhappiness.
According to the Declaration of Independence, everyone is free to pursue happiness (for few would choose to pursue unhappiness unless they’re a masochist), provided that one’s pursuit does not keep others from pursuing theirs.
The right to the pursuit of unhappiness should not be lauded, but the right to be unhappy should be. Many who have taken anti-depressants have tried to become happy, only to become worse off than they were before. They were trying to pursue a happiness that did not exist, except in their own mind. Drugs generally do not lessen the unhappiness, they just numb it.
Some couples are not happy unless they are unhappy. They would not know what to do with themselves if they were happy, so they are happy in their unhappiness.
Some creative individuals do not value their happiness as much as their art, which gives them fulfillment, which some would consider a lesser form of happiness. They do not consider what they do as sacrifice, but rather as self-sacrifice.
The same goes for many Olympic athletes–children give up a happier life (free of hours of repetitious exercises) for a more rewarding one.
In “Brave New World”, the populace is put on a drug called soma, which sounds like today’s Prozac. Since it is against human nature to always be happy, is one ever happy if they go against their nature?
“Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so,” the famous philosopher, John Stuart Mill, stated after recovering from a serious bout of depression. “Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness…”
Physician and philosopher John Locke distinguishes between “imaginary” happiness and “true happiness.” Imaginary happiness can be seen as anything but happy, and yet, many humans will pursue it. This segues into Robert Nozick’s philosophy that one is less happy if one’s experiences are lived through a filter of virtual reality, for the happiness gleaned from such a device would not be as good as a life of actuality.
George Sheehan, a physician and best-selling author of “Running & Being: The Total Experience” said that, “Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling, enduring, and accomplishing.”
The right to be unhappy just might be one of the many roads to happiness, and preserving it should be sacrosanct.
I’ll be honest. If I had to give up my creativity and imagination to be happy all the time, I’d say no thank you.
One of the best quotes I’ve heard on happiness I read in my textbook. “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” –Henry David Thoreau