The Importance of Finding Meaning in Life: An Existential Crisis

Life is all about love.

“What’s it all about Alfie?”

Dionne Warwick

“As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above

Alfie, I know there’s something much more

Something even non-believers can believe in

I believe in love, Alfie

Without true love, we just exist, Alfie

Until you find the love you’ve missed

You’re nothing, Alfie.”

What is life all about? It’s all about love. This popular song from 1966 expresses it all. In his searing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl has this realization when he is a prisoner in Auschwitz during WW II. During one of the daily marches in the freezing cold during the early morning hours, it comes to him.

The song refers to romantic love, but I believe there is more to it than that. It is also important to love life, family, neighbors, and fellow human beings. But, do we love our lives and fellow people? 

Besides the dreadful Pandemic, there is an epidemic of mass shootings in the United States. Why is this happening? The answer to this question is complicated. In part, the answer lies in how we raise our children. There is also the problem of poverty and racism in the United States. Then there is the easy availability of guns to everyone because of the lack of gun control. Finally, we have to ask if people find any meaning in their lives.

People feel alienated and disconnected. The great 19th-century sociologist Emile Durkheim called the feeling of meaninglessness “Anomie. This term refers to a society losing its norms and values. What develops from this lack of norms is a disregard and violation of the law. Ethics and standards of behavior and belief disappear.

Anomie is connected to existentialism, in which people feel lost because they believe their lives are meaningless. The famous existentialist writer, Albert Camus, wrote a novel existentialist novel called “The Stranger.” In the opening scene, the main character states, “Today his mother died…or was it yesterday…I don’t know.” How could he not know? Because his life and that of others have no meaning. He is in the state of Anomie. Later in the book, he shoots an Arab man and is brought to trial. The prosecuting attorneys are more concerned that he does not cry than about the death of the murdered man. Again, the reason for this is that life has no meaning.

Thought about this way, there should be no surprise that mass shootings and violent crimes exist. For many people in this modern world, life has lost any meaning.

This does not mean that everything is hopeless. Positive Psychology teaches us that people can build meaningfulness into their lives. An excellent psychology website devoted to positive psychology is “Greater Good.” “Greater Good” explores the “science of a meaningful life.” What they do is publish the latest findings regarding a meaningful life. For instance, one research report found that compassion and kindness help build an inner sense of morality and a moral self-concept. Basically, kindness, generosity, and compassion make us happy. Included in this is gratitude because it helps build stronger relationships.

Children must be trained to show these positive characteristics and behaviors. In this way, children need to learn cooperation and service to less fortunate people.

The central concept is vitally important for building relationships with others and society. This connectedness could overcome Anomie.

Human beings are the only beings who can question their own lives. The most extensive quest in an individual’s life is to find meaning and purpose. The questions about the meaning of human life are as old as humanity itself.

Meanings are at the core of our experience and also at the core of whatever we do. It is only through meanings that we make sense of our existence. In life, we find meaning through a sense of purpose which makes life worthwhile. Viktor Frankl (1978) aptly pointed out that a firm sense of meaning is essential for optimal human development. Jerome Bruner (1990) put it more bluntly, noting that without meaning systems, “we would be lost in the murk of chaotic experience and probably would not have survived as a species” (p. 56).

Meaning in life is not just a theoretical construct. Still, it bears human health and well-being (e.g., Jung, as cited in Jaffe, 1970) asserted that the absence of meaning is related to psychopathology.

  Yalom (1980), in empirical research, confirmed earlier clinical observations that living without meaning, goals, or values provokes considerable distress (Yalom 1980).

While pondering what makes life meaningful, several perspectives in the literature are found that cover philosophy and existential psychology. To plan a single definition of meaning, one may ask what the essence of meaning is? But a single generic answer to this question is not possible to find. The meaning of life differs from person to person, from day to day, and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning the specific meaning of a person’s life at the moment (Frankl, 1970). Frankl speaks of the uniqueness of meanings, a quality of a situation, and life since life is a string of unique situations (Frankl, 1970). Frankl postulated that man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives (Frankl, 1970).

Meaningfulness serves several vital functions in human lives (Frankl, 1992). It provides a purpose for our lives. Then it furnishes values or standards by which to judge our actions. In addition, it gives us a sense of control over the events in our life. Last, it provides us with self-worth. When people cannot find meaning for any of these functions or lose or outgrow their once-loved meanings, they become distressed. Many emotional problems result from a failure to find meaning in life. They can be resolved only by finding something to make life worth living (Frankl, 1992).

DocTalk

What are the Health Benefits of Owning a Pet? Many!

This excellent article is taken from WebMD where the original can be found.

I can speak as a pet owner when I report that owning pets is one of the most rewarding things a person can do for themselves, their families, and their children. Our family raised chickens, ducks, tropical fish, dogs, cats, and gerbils. To this day, my daughters, their husbands, and my grandchild own cats, dogs, and tropical fish and are advocates for the rights and protection of both wild animals and those that are domesticated.
 

Research has shown that living with pets provides certain health benefits. They lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and boost immunity. They may encourage socialization.

Meeting New Friends

Dogs are great for making friends. For example, a dog is a natural conversation starter. This especially helps ease people out of social isolation or shyness. 

Dogs for the Aged

“Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home,” says Lynette Hart, Ph.D. associate professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Their caregivers also feel less burdened when there is a pet, particularly if it is a cat, which generally requires less care than a dog,” says Hart.

Walking a dog or just caring for a pet — for elderly people who are able — can provide exercise and companionship. 

Good for Mind and Soul

Pet owners with AIDS are far less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. “The benefit is especially pronounced when people are strongly attached to their pets,” says researcher Judith Siegel, Ph.D.

In one study, stockbrokers with high blood pressure who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than people without pets.

People in stress mode get into a “state of dis-ease,” in which harmful chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine can negatively affect the immune system, says Blair Justice, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of the Texas School of Public Health and author of Who Gets Sick: How Beliefs, Moods, and Thoughts Affect Your Health.

Studies show a link between these chemicals and plaque buildup in arteries, the red flag for heart disease, says Justice.

Like any enjoyable activity, playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, nerve transmitters that have pleasurable and calming properties, he tells WebMD.

“People take drugs like heroin and cocaine to raise serotonin and dopamine, but the healthy way to do it is to pet your dog, or hug your spouse, watch sunsets, or get around something beautiful in nature,” says Justice, who recently hiked the Colorado Rockies with his wife and two dogs.

Good for the Heart

According to several studies, heart attack patients who have pets survive longer than those without. Researchers say that male pet owners have fewer signs of heart disease — lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-owners.

Contact Dr. Schwartz at dransphd@aol.com

Do You Wish Your Life Away?

Do You Wish Your Life Away?

“To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living

The other day, I went into a local luncheon restaurant and ordered a cup of coffee and a toasted bagel with cream cheese. The young server smiled pleasantly and said, “Ooooh, I get happier as the time gets closer to 1:00 PM.” I was tempted to get into a short conversation with her about this but quickly surmised that she would react as though I was preaching to her, and I did not want that. However, this little interaction gave me pause for some thinking. After all, I asked myself, how often do all of us engage in the same thinking style as the young woman?

Aren’t we all guilty of wishing our lives away without thinking about it? At work, we watch the clock. We count the months and days until vacation. We hurry to wash the dishes so we can see our favorite television program. Once we reach retirement age, we convince ourselves that real life will begin.

Of course, the reverse of this also happens. How often do we engage in feelings and thoughts of self-pity about the past? How often do we make such statements as, “if only I had done this or that,” or, “If only I this event or that event had not happened,” or, “life has never been fair to me.” We “cry over spilled milk.”

The intent is not to be dark and cynical here. Quite to the contrary, my intent is to communicate the concept of embracing and living life to the fullest. That life is fragile because we never really know what may happen. It is essential to be living in the present moment. This way of thinking is a severe problem because none of us can guarantee that tomorrow will come, and we cannot change the past. Yes, each of us has our past lives, and each of us makes plans for tomorrow, next month, and next year. However, we overlook it now.

The great Buddhist teacher and expert on mindfulness and meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh, expressed it best when he stressed the importance of focusing on this moment because we will never have it again once this moment is gone. Another teacher is our American, John Kabbat-Zinn. I highly recommend his many books for their simplicity and great wisdom about living our lives. Just do an Internet search for him.

One of the most self-destructive ways for us to destroy now is to be obsessed with work. This is also referred to as a “Type A Personality” who runs from task to task, never coming up from work to inhale and smell the fresh air. It is a heart attack to awaken these people if they are lucky enough to survive.

Are you mindful of your life and body? Do you take time to smell the roses? Do you live in the moment or dwell on the past while waiting for tomorrow? 

Perhaps it is time for all of us to practice mindful meditation.

 

The Importance of Taking the Slow Road

It is Spring, and summer is not far off. The Covid Pandemic is easing, and people are leaving their homes. They are driving again, visiting family and friends, and traveling to a vacation spot. However, it is like a cork popped from a bottle of Champagne. Drivers are tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, passing cars from the right lane, and going at alarmingly high rates of speed and well beyond speed limits. In addition, they are getting into accidents on the highways and local streets.

People might think that state troopers are present to stop, ticket, and inhibit crazy driving. There are examples of the police issuing tickets to these drivers. However, reckless driving would resume once out of sight of the officers.

Of course, during a long trip, drivers pull off the road to refuel, get some lunch and stretch their weary and still limbs. Many of the cars were recognizable as the autos seen on the road. Yet, the people in those autos appeared friendly and respectable. The elderly, middle-aged, fathers, mothers, children, and business people.

Stress plays a significant role in this behavior. Something anonymous about the highway permits people to put aside their excellent judgment and engage in reckless driving, much like the internet. The highway is not the place to express the aggravation that comes from coping with a difficult marriage, problematic children, unemployment, financial issues, and depression and anxiety expressed on the highway. People are releasing pent-up frustrations from their lives.

Not that anyone is doing this deliberately. While a few people know of driving recklessly, most are unaware of what they are doing. There are always excuses and rationalizations for those who are aware, such as another is driving too slowly, or there is an urgency about arriving quickly. I guess that most would not admit that they are expressing helplessness, hopelessness, and rage in the way they are driving.

This essay is not only about traffic and driving but about how we live our lives. People are in a hurry to get to their first and second jobs. They are in a hurry to complete tasks at home, school, and work. People rush from one place to another but rarely take time to think about what they are doing. I have a good friend working endless hours to put his son through a top-notch college to go to medical school. He is living life at a breakneck speed and is not taking time to think about what he is doing to himself. This good friend already suffers from high blood pressure, cholesterol, and several other health problems.

There are healthier ways to cope with life’s difficulties, such as getting plenty of exercises and using yoga and meditation to release tension, and getting in touch with living in the moment rather than hurrying. We need not hurry. We need to be present at the moment.

Children, Teens and Suicide

Suicides among young people continue to be a severe problem. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 15-to-24-year-olds.

Most children and adolescents who attempt suicide have a significant mental health disorder, usually depression. Among younger children, suicide attempts are often impulsive. They may be associated with feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, or problems with attention and hyperactivity.

Now, however, childhood and teen suicide statistics are complicated by the Covid Pandemic. Even though schools are now open in most communities throughout the United States, parents report that many young people do not want to return to school. While remote learning carried many disadvantages, some children found it reassuring to remain at home with the family.

Children’s suicide attempts have increased during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

COVID-19 has led to significant changes in the dynamics of children’s suicide attempts, according to the results of a cross-sectional study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

.

“Recent studies have reported a deterioration in children’s mental health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with an increase in anxiety and mood disorders,” Anthony Cousien, Ph.D., of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Paris in France, and colleagues wrote. “Rates of suicide ideation and suicide attempts among children were also higher when COVID-19–related stressors heightened in 2020. 

The researchers analyzed data of 830 children aged 15 years or younger (mean age, 13.5 years; 1:4 ratio of boys to girls) with suicide attempt history admitted to the pediatric Emergency Department of a single hospital between January 2010 and April 2021. They defined a suicide attempt as “a nonfatal self-directed potentially injurious behavior with any intent to die because of the behavior.”

Cousien and colleagues speculated that children’s specific sensitivity to mitigation measures, adverse effects on family health and economic conditions, increased screen time, and social media use or bereavement may have affected this acceleration.

Social media is also a significant risk factor for teen suicide.

Suicide rates among teenagers have seen a drastic increase from 2007 to the present. Social media has become a prevalent way of life. Another risk factor may be media accounts of suicide that romanticize or dramatize the description of suicidal deaths, possibly leading to an increased number of suicides.

Among teenagers, suicide attempts come with feelings of stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment, and loss. For some teens, suicide may appear to solve their problems.

Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. The child or adolescent needs to have their illness recognized, diagnosed, and appropriately treated with a comprehensive treatment plan.

Thoughts about suicide and suicide attempts are often associated with depression. Besides depression, other risk factors include:

  • family history of suicide attempts
  • exposure to violence
  • impulsivity
  • aggressive or disruptive behavior
  • access to firearms
  • bullying
  • feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • acute loss or rejection

Children and adolescents thinking about suicide may make openly suicidal statements or comments such as, “I wish I was dead,” or “I won’t be a problem for you much longer.” Other warning signs associated with suicide can include:

  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • frequent or pervasive sadness
  • withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  • frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • a decline in the quality of schoolwork
  • preoccupation with death and dying

Young people thinking about suicide may also stop planning for or talking about the future. They may give away important possessions.

People often feel uncomfortable talking about suicide. However, asking your child or adolescent whether they are depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Specific examples of such questions include:

  • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?
  • Have you ever thought about hurting or killing yourself?

Rather than putting thoughts in your child’s head, these questions can assure that somebody cares and will give your child the chance to talk about problems.

Parents, teachers, and friends should always err on caution and safety. Any child or adolescent with suicidal thoughts or plans should be evaluated immediately by a trained mental health professional.

 No matter which boat you are in, remember that it doesn’t help to blame yourself as a parent.

Whether you are a parent, helping your teenager prevent suicide, or have lost your teenager to suicide, find a community and gather them close around you. You may find that this community is people in the church, friends, or other parents who have faced the same challenges. Keep a close connection with safe people and walk on this journey with others. Remember that you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

800-273-8255

Lifeline

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Guess, What? Cursing Can be Good for Your Health

Cursing when it’s painful

http://www.psychotherapy.netThe other day, I caught my finger as I closed the top of my Nespresso machine to make a cup of coffee. Spontaneously and without thought, I shouted out several curse words. I was shocked that I caught my finger, and it hurt. I felt like a clumsy fool for being so clumsy and called myself an idiot. Then I smiled and felt a lot better.

Recently, a female psychotherapy client sat in front of me very abashed. When I asked why she looked upset, she hesitatingly described a painful procedure at the Doctor’s office. She let out a curse word when the procedure became excruciatingly painful. She blushed and felt ashamed of herself. Both Doctor and nurse assured her they were accustomed to patients cursing when undergoing the procedure.

When we are the smallest of children, most of us learn from our parents that curse words are wrong and we must never use them. These teachings are correct. All of us know it is socially inappropriate to express ourselves in ways considered being insulting and in bad taste. 

Recent research informs us that there are exceptions to the rules regarding swear words. A recent article put it this way:

Using swear words can have a wide range of positive effects on your well-being, including pain relief and helping you cope with emotionally challenging situations. 

  • Studies show cursing during a physically painful event can help us better tolerate the pain.
  • Experts say using curse words can also help us build emotional resilience and cope with situations in which we feel that we have no control.
  • Swearing can also provide a range of other benefits, including creative expression, relationship development, or allowing different identities to harmonize by signaling that you feel relaxed around the other person.

We’ve all had plenty of reasons to want to shout the “f word” during the last two years. Living in a pandemic has given us all cause to express our frustrations, whether from the ongoing confusing restrictions to the fear of what may happen if you contract the coronavirus.

It is essential the keep in mind some caveats about cursing. The same research shows the benefits of swearing did not occur in people who admitted to daily swearing as part of their lifestyle. 

Every rule has exceptions. In this context, cursing among friends, especially men, is a way to express warmth, acceptance, and closeness.

Used appropriately and responsibly, outbursts of cursing, cussing, and swearing are an excellent way to handle the complexity of being human in a world that is not under our control.

Swearing can liberate when feeling bottled up with frustration. Curse words can have a calming effect on the complex emotions we are experiencing.

Explorations in Psychotherapy

Explorations in Psychotherapy is a new book written by Allan N Schwartz, PhD.

The book encompasses issues and problems real people have consulted me about over the past thirty years. All identities are fully hidden and disguised in order to protect privacy. Explorations in Psychotherapy is available at Amazon.com in either paperback or kindle versions.

http://www.allanschwartztherapy.net Available for Purchase at Amazon.com

How to Cope After a Disaster

It was Friday, New Years’ Eve morning, December 31, 2021. The sun was shining, but the wind was gusting. I was walking my dog when I noticed a cloud of smoke in the distance. I thought nothing of it because it appeared to be a grass fire. After my dog completed her business, we headed back to my condo. It was astonishing how fast the smoke covered the neighborhood. As I sat at my desk, I noticed my eyes became irritated, and the smell of smoke filled the apartment. When I looked out my window, I was shocked to see black smoke over the entire neighborhood. Soon, there was a pounding at my door. The police politely but firmly ordered me out of the condo when I opened it. My neighbors were also in the corridor. All of us went back inside to gather a few things, and we left the condominium complex. 

These same neighbors drove us to Erie, a distance from the fires and smoke. We were on the way to my daughter’s house as they did the same. As we drove, we somberly viewed the dark smoke and flames. All of us were grateful to have escaped what turned out to be a major disaster.

We learned later that the county lost 1,000 homes were in flames. So miraculously, only two fatalities resulted from something that could easily take thousands of lives. However, the shock and trauma were unbearable.

Understanding the emotions and normal responses that follow a disaster or other traumatic event can help you cope with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

Recovering emotionally from disaster

From The American Psychological Association, 2013

Disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, transportation accidents, or wildfires are typically unexpected, sudden, and overwhelming. There are no outwardly visible signs of physical injury for many people, but there can be an emotional toll. It is common for people who have experienced disaster to have strong emotional reactions. Understanding responses to distressing events can help you cope effectively with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors and help you along the path to recovery.

What are common reactions and responses to disaster?

Following a disaster, people frequently feel stunned, disoriented, or unable to integrate distressing information. However, once these initial reactions subside, people can experience a variety of thoughts and behaviors. 

Typical responses can be:

  • Intense or unpredictable feelings. You may be anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, or grief-stricken. You may also feel more irritable or moody than usual.
  • Changes to thoughts and behavior patterns. You might have repeated and vivid memories of the event. These memories may occur for no apparent reason and may lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating. It may not be easy to concentrate or make decisions. Sleep and eating patterns also can be disrupted. Some people may overeat and oversleep, while others experience a loss of sleep and appetite.
  • Sensitivity to environmental factors. Sirens, loud noises, burning smells, or other environmental sensations may stimulate memories of the disaster, creating heightened anxiety. These “triggers” may accompany fears that the stressful event may repeat. 
  • Strained interpersonal relationships. Increased conflict, such as frequent disagreements with family members and coworkers, can occur. You might also become withdrawn, isolated, or disengaged from your usual social activities.
  • Stress-related physical symptoms. Headaches, nausea, and chest pain may occur and require medical attention. Preexisting medical conditions could be affected by disaster-related stress.

How do I cope?

Fortunately, research shows that most people are resilient and can bounce back from tragedy over time. It is common for people to experience stress in the immediate aftermath. Still, most people can resume functioning as before the disaster within a few months. It is important to remember that resilience and recovery are the norms, not prolonged distress.

There are several steps people can take to build emotional well-being and gain a sense of control following a disaster, including the following:

  •  Survivors need time to adjust and anticipate that this will be a difficult time in the lives of survivors. Allow yourself to mourn the losses you have experienced and try to be patient with changes in your emotional state.
  • Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen and empathize with your situation. Social support is a crucial component of disaster recovery. Family and friends can be vital resources. You can find support and common ground from those who’ve also survived the disaster. You may also want to reach out to others not involved who may provide more significant support and objectivity.
  • Communicate your experience. People need to express what they are feeling in whatever ways they feel comfortable, such as talking with family or close friends, keeping a diary, or engaging in a creative activity.
  • Find a local support group led by appropriately trained and experienced professionals. Support groups are frequently available for survivors. Group discussion can help survivors realize that they are not alone in their reactions and emotions. Support group meetings can be beneficial for people with limited personal support systems.
  • Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. If you experience ongoing difficulties with sleep, you may be able to find some relief through relaxation techniques. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can be a numbing diversion that could detract from and delay active coping and moving forward from the disaster.
  • Establish or reestablish routines. Routines can include eating meals regularly, sleeping and waking on a regular cycle, or following an exercise program. Build positive ways to have something to look forward to during these distressing times, like pursuing a hobby, walking through an attractive park or neighborhood, or reading a good book.
  • Avoid making major life decisions. Switching careers or jobs and other essential decisions tend to be highly stressful in their own right and even harder to take on when someone is recovering from a disaster.

When to seek professional help?

Persistent feelings of distress or hopelessness and you feel like you can barely get through your daily responsibilities and activities, consult with a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist. Psychologists have the training to help people address emotional reactions to disasters such as disbelief, stress, anxiety, and grief and make a plan for moving forward. 

“I’m So Bored”

I’m So Bored!

Have you ever heard this plaintive cry or uttered it yourself? This lament about boredom affects young or old alike. Unfortunately, however, we do not know about it, except boredom is very unpleasant. So, what is boredom, what seems to cause it, and what can we do about it?

According to the Oxford American Dictionary, second edition, the word bored “is a feeling of being weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in their current activity.” Another definition of “bored” is a “feeling” of having nothing to do. The word “feeling” in the last sentence is in quotes because boredom is subjective and in the person’s conscious experience. In other words, if two people attend a lecture and one is bored and falls asleep. Still, the other one is fascinated. It means that they each have a different and subjective reaction to the same experience. Due to feeling bored, one person cannot focus their attention on the lecture and gradually fall asleep, unlike the political science class I took in undergraduate school many years ago. Others in the class were fascinated, but I could barely keep my eyes open.

What Causes Boredom?

It has never been clear what causes boredom, but many theories and explanations exist. Speculation has it that some people crave a lot of external stimulation to prevent boredom. The particular type of external stimulation will vary from one individual to the next. For instance, those extroverted people are very successful in finding people to speak to and avert becoming bored. The constant stimulation from the successful ways they interact with people is a continuous source of them. However, introverted people may have more of a problem finding motivation because socializing with people does not come so quickly to them.

Some researchers believe that some people experience boredom out of an inability to know what they are feeling and what they want. Alexithymia is the inability to understand what one’s feelings are. 

People who experience alexithymia lack a fantasy and dream life or cannot remember their dreams. If they remember them, they have no way of explaining or imagining what they might mean. One does not have to experience alexithymia in its full-blown flatness. Still, the inability to know what one prefers to do is a similar type of thing. In other words, it is the inability to know what to do, what might feel good, or to have any hobbies, interests, or enjoyments that leads to the feeling of being bored.

One theory of boredom comes from psychoanalysis. The theory states that boredom is anger and hostility that a person turns against the self, resulting in boredom. 

Many professionals in substance abuse state that boredom is one catalyst for drug and alcohol abuse. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that yearning or wanting, along with bored feelings, leads the alcoholic to drink. Using a similar explanation, many teenagers turn to drugs and alcohol out of boredom at home and in school.

Many years ago, I suggested that adolescents feel bored because their metabolism operates more quickly than during adulthood. The supposed result is that young people experience time passing very slowly. Supposedly, as we age, metabolism slows with the result that time seems to pass more quickly. Well, I do not know if a slowed metabolism is why time seems to fly by so fast for me, but it certainly seems to move at an ever-quickening pace, and many of my peers agree.

Addiction specialists believe that boredom can be a symptom of depression. The lack of interest in anything is the withdrawal from the world due to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. In addition, a lack of stimulation in the environment can promote boredom among small children because their natural curiosity and need to explore are not satisfied. 

Finally, in school, classes that are either too difficult or too easy for a child or adult can lead to boredom. For example, those who are incredibly bright and have high IQs can feel bored if the content of the lessons is not stimulating because they are too easy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, classes that are too challenging for students can lead to boredom because what they are learning is beyond their ability or readiness to master the content.

What to do?

Suppose you have a chronic sense of boredom or a child who complains about boredom at home or school. In that case, you need to explore the possibility of depression or something else causing that uncomfortable feeling. For example, if your child is bored in school, they might be in the incorrect class. While many children complain about boring school, they should not dismiss it. Many youngsters are unwilling to talk about what is bothering them at school. Perhaps there is a bully the youngster fears to discuss or due to classes being too easy or hard. A fear of talking about “I am bored” can represent many things, especially when a child constantly repeats it.

There is always the possibility of consulting a mental health professional for yourself or your child if boredom continues unabated.