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The Power of Boredom: Why Reading Requires Embracing Boredom

Soren Kierkegaard, Plato, Socrates, and Friedrich Nietzsche on Confronting Boredom as a Gateway.

In our relentless pursuit of discipline, particularly in the realm of reading, it appears that our tendency to lose focus comes from an unconscious desire to escape its archrival, boredom.

After months spent struggling with this ennui, I found myself completely numb, and the once treasured act of reading fell away from me.

And I didn’t read even a single book in 6 months.

But then, it was these philosophical quotes that got me back to it…

“Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself.”

Socrates in Plato’s Socrates’ Defence:

“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”

Friedrich Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols:

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

Perhaps what I had failed to realize is that boredom isn’t a problem, but a state of mind telling you that you have to first accept it as part of your lived experiences. It’s a signal forcing you to face up to a deeply intrinsic aspect of your psyche; a necessary component in, what Carl Jung terms, the individuation process.

Unlearning all the negative feelings that we’ve learned to associate with boredom is the first step towards a richer life experience and a deeply rewarding life of reading.

Reading can be an act of paying attention. It’s to participate in an inner dialogue with myself and my choices; of which boredom is as important a part as any other.

Reading is a way of finding yourself where you are right now. And boredom is not a prison that stifles such creative and honest self-reflection.

Philosophers like Socrates, Seneca, Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Albert Camus considered boredom a fundamental emotion, a crucial aspect of the human experience. And so philosophy sees it as a gateway to introspection and clarity, allowing us to unlearn how we negatively associate with it in both our solitude and sociability.


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