Letters To Seneca – Letter 5

Dear Seneca,

Today I want to talk about boredom and how a plague of “dopamine sickness” has caused society to lose the presence and importance of boredom.

For the past couple of years there has rarely been a time where I had nothing going on, let me explain. All my spare time was dedicated to listening to podcasts, audiobooks, lectures, reading, and writing, there’s never a moment of “nothing” happening. When I say “spare time” I mean every moment – in the shower, eating dinner with my wife (shows/movies), and the list goes on.

This constant process of intaking content (mainly educational) has made me “dopamine sick”. Meaning, I’m so used to getting micro hits of dopamine every second of every day that I struggle to go without taking in any information. I ran this pattern long enough that I began to think that I forgot what it felt like to be “bored”. More importantly, I forgot about the benefits of allowing boredom into one’s life.

In the past 2-weeks, I’ve decided to incorporate more “boredom” into my life, specifically, when I go on 60-minute rucks I don’t bring anything with me. immediately I noticed that my mind is running constantly with all kinds of ideas, observations, and questions. The internal chatter of my mind is gradually starting to calm down, which has provided me with a sense of calm.

Even though I’ve made progress, it’s still hard for me to decide between boredom and content consumption. This leads me to a list of questions I’ve been pondering in the last couple of days, such as…

  • Why do you feel the need to always be consuming information?
  • What are you looking for?
  • Are you hoping to find the answer to something?
  • Does having a broad understanding of many topics boost your ego when you’re able to meaningfully contribute to conversations?
  • Does this make you feel intelligent when you’re acknowledged for your insight?
  • Why are you seeking to be seen as intelligent?
  • What need are you trying to fill with being seen as intelligent?
  • How can you care less about how others perceive your intelligence?
  • What if you consume less content, but more methodically? Are you seen as less intelligent if you’re unable to contribute to future conversations?
  • Can genuine curiosity during a conversation, replace the need for constant intelligent insight?

There are many more questions, but we’ll leave it there.

Today’s letter combines your argument about allowing the mind to digest fewer authors (preferring foundational materials) with building the mental muscle of boredom/reflection in one’s life. Both are life-long goals I hope to progress toward each day.