I work as an eye doctor and people sometimes ask me: Don’t you get bored with what you do? Well the answer is: No, I don’t! I love what I do, for over the years I have learned to move from being bored with almost everything in life as a young woman, to loving nearly everything I do now, simply because I am doing it and therefore enriching the life I am living.
No matter how glamorous or exciting our lives may appear to be, there can be a mundaneness to our everyday tasks which can become boring if we approach then in a purely mechanical, physical way. If I were to do, say, a glasses test from this approach (asking: is it clearer with the glass, or without the glass? over and over again) it would drive me crazy with boredom. And it used to at times. But it is a needed part of my job, so I have worked on making it an enjoyable part of my day.
What I have learnt to do is to bring all of myself to the task at hand … rather than thinking about what I am going to have for lunch or looking out the window at passers-by, as a patient takes their time thinking about the answer to that apparently simple question, or asks to me to repeat the move, over and over again, I bring my full attention to myself, and to them.
I feel myself in my fingertips and my toes, so that I am present in and with my whole body. I enjoy moving my body in the gentle rhythmic way required for the exercise, feeling the space I am moving in and the quality of that movement. I enjoy giving them the space to come to the answer at their own pace, so they don’t feel so anxious, pressured by time, or worried about getting it right. If you think about it, it is a big pressure on people, to ask them repeatedly for their subjective opinion which determines what glasses they will see through for the next year or so, and they need our support and guidance, not our impatience, frustration or judgement.
People are so appreciative when they are offered this space. They feel held, supported, accepted, cared for, even loved. They understand that you are busy and that the task takes time but it makes the world of difference to them to know that you are willing to take the time to make sure they can see as well as they possibly can. And more than that, they appreciate that you care about them as a person and are willing to give them space to do this task in their own time and that you want to enrich their life in this way.
If we bring our focus to enriching life, we no longer feel so bored.
Being bored is an absence of, a lack, an emptiness that we feel, a sense that something is missing. We can be doing the most magnificent things and still feel absolutely empty. And a usual day can become excruciating, feeling like we are doing the same thing over and over again … as if we have been doing it not only for this life, but for many, many lives …
But we can only feel like this if we have disconnected from the essence of ourselves and other people.
We all have to live, and we can just go through the motions of existence … doing the same thing over and over again and looking for stimulation, reward, distraction, or dullness to ease the angst of it all … or we can wake up, get ready for the day, go through the day and prepare for bed at the end of it all, feeling alive, vital, energised, full, expanding and ever more appreciative of life and what it has to offer …
When we make life about connection with people and our purpose here, everything we do has meaning and this brings a richness to the most menial of tasks. Caring for ourselves becomes a joy and this is contagious … it spreads to all as we care for everyone else, equally so …
When we enrich life, we bring the fullness of who we are to every little thing that we do, so that the most mundane of tasks comes alive, and we find joy in every movement we make.
There is no need to change jobs, take a break, retire, or do anything except to bring more and more of us to the dailiness of what we do.
If we are there in full, doing what we do, life is no longer boring, but rich and full and endlessly rewarding … why not enrich your life today?
What a great article, Anne, one which you express beautifully for me, the message is encapsulated in the joy found in being absolutely present in all one does. As a junior medical officer, a lot of my tasks to date have been administrative. Add to that the hierarchy of medicine with the personalities competing at times for supremacy, plus the inevitable inexperience (medical school at best, is an introduction to the field. It is a true apprenticeship), and one could become very disillusioned. What I have found, is that by fully committing to the task at hand, including the support required for me to do it (early nights, eating well and eating light, remaining hydrated, regular exercise before and after work), that simply BEING there is a joy. And you’re right, that joy IS infectious. That’s the best kind of infection a person or hospital can have 😉