Living More Than OK … Spiraling Up To Abundant Living
Do you merely exist through each day? Do you ask yourself “is this all there is to life?” Then you are just living ok and that is not the way your life is meant to be. Living More Than OK … Spiraling Up To Abundant Living takes you on a reflective journey on aspects of Positive Psychology, and other related concepts to help you to move beyond going through the motions to thriving with purpose and enjoying life to the full.
Topics that will be considered are:
• Tapping Into Your Creativity
• Dream Big and Reach Your Goals
• Follow Your Purpose With Passion
• Aim For Natural Highs
• Thankfulness As A Lifestyle
Take the risk today to begin Living More Than OK! You were created to live a life that is flourishing and abundant! Make the right choice to begin Living More Than OK!
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.54(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Living More Than OK
Spiraling Up To Abundant Living
By Frank Coulson
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Frank Coulson M. Ed., M. Div., LPC
All rights reserved.
The Problem of Just Existing—Boredom
Why would a person begin their book looking at the subject of boredom? My thoughts on living a more than ok life relates to my observation over the years that too many of us do not live up to all the potential we have in us. Throughout my life I have been more of an introverted observer of life around me and the people around me. Through all the various stages of life I have seen boredom as a part of what I call living just an ok existence. It is merely getting by or just existing.
Most everyone remembers growing up and going to school and either observed or even experienced boredom in school. Of course the levels of boredom varied from student to student. I will admit I experienced this boredom as well even though I believe I experienced it less than some as I will mention in a future chapter. There were some teachers who would make education come alive and some with whom we just endured the time boringly watching for the clock to reach 3:15pm for the end of the school day. One reason as students Summer was so exciting is it meant a break from school. Yet even today I will speak with parents who state their children by the end of Summer are bored at home and look forward to school again. I remember that same feeling.
One of my early jobs in between my college years was working shipping and receiving at a company in Ohio. My work setting was fast-paced so the day would often go quickly. During slow periods though, the hours would drag on as if they would never end. In this setting I would observe my fellow workers who were bored as well.
For many the main focus of their lives came across as waiting for 5 pm on Friday to get their paychecks and rush out to the bars. Just to do the whole routine the following week. Many people are the same just living for the weekend. They keep the cycle going of just existing week by week.
Later after college, I would see this attitude in companies I would work at in the Chicago area as well. I observed too many living lives of quiet desperation and boredom. This reminded me of the quote by Henry David Thoreau "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." There seemed to be no passion or meaning to life. People's existence of simply going through the workday cycle and getting a little pleasure on the weekend. I found myself thinking—is this all there is to life? Is this the way we were meant to live? Of course growing up as a Christian I personally believed the statement of Christ, "I am come that you may have life, and keep on having it in abundance" John 10:10. So that meant to me that we were meant to live better than working day in and day out with a little respite on the weekend. This was the beginning of my thinking that we are meant to live more than OK.
My primary reading and research on boredom began about 10 years ago. I began reading up on the issue of boredom and life. This resulted from an encounter I had with a student in my office for Career Counseling, who happened to be struggling with his classes. In the discussion of what was the main problem other than uncertainty on a career focus, he mentioned that he was easily bored with his classes, especially the liberal arts basic courses. Boredom would overtake him and he would start skipping class. Over the next couple years, I informally kept track of students who brought up boredom as a negative effect on their education and life. Within one semester alone at least 14 students brought up the issue of boredom as a major factor in their difficulty with college. They all happened to be on probation for their grades. As I read literature on boredom, it affirmed what I was seeing in some of the students, that boredom can negatively affect students' progress.
Also in a College Success course I taught for Freshman students, I would do a variety of reflection statements. Their responses on lack of purpose and passion probably remains the most important force in my thinking behind this book concerning living life more than ok. I have spoken with many students over the past 10 years who struggle with their grades because they are bored with college. I would be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time I have heard the word bored from students on the campuses I have worked on in the past years. In discussing boredom further with some of the students it is often because they lack a sense of meaning in life or do not have a set direction. They are just like the workers at the company who were just living week end to week end. I also observed a connection with the media driven age we live in, so the students are bombarded with stimulation on all the videos and TV shows they watch. So they easily become bored when the rest of life is not that stimulating.
On one reflection as to why students are not proactive in seeking help one student's comment stood out to me. She stated, "Some, like me, feel we should be able to handle what life throws at us. Then when overwhelmed we don't seek help because we will slough through it." Her thoughts reminded me again of Thoreau's' view of people living "lives of quiet desperation." Just getting by, just existing, which corresponds to my thought of just living ok. Those who state that famous quote of Thoreau often neglect the end of that quote which is the most important part—"go to the grave with the song still in them." That song is the abundant living. Learning to live out the song that has been put in the hearts of all of us makes life more than ok. That is one hope I have in writing this book that readers can move beyond sloughing through life and tap into their song of abundant living.
In all of my reading books and articles about boredom a quote that struck me about boredom is from Lars Svendsen, a Philosophy professor in Norway. In his book A Philosophy of Boredom he states—"Boredom is inhuman as it robs human life of meaning, or possibly it is an expression of the fact that such a meaning is absent." (page 33). I like how Dr. Svendsen mentions that a life of boredom robs our lives of meaning. When reading his description of the effects of boredom on our life existence I pictured in my mind a dry desert with cracks in the ground, dry craggy rocks and withered brown brush. This is how I view people's lives who are just existing in life—all dried up with no vitality. The life of boredom is as dry and lifeless as a desert. No excitement or passion along with the thought of robbing our lives of meaning.
Research studies and books about boredom show that boredom is related to a host of negative problems that face us in destroying our human potential. Boredom relates closely to depression and anxiety disorders. Boredom does not equal these mental and emotional maladies but is often a precursor. Prolonged boredom can turn into these disorders. Loneliness, and a sense of hopelessness in life are factors that relate to boredom. Boredom also affects the sense of meaning and purpose we have in our life journey. Much of Lars Svendsen's book relates to the connection between the lack of purpose and meaning and the increased levels of boredom in a person's life.
Boredom has been shown to lead to risky behaviors. Criminals behavior among juveniles occur often due to boredom. They are seeking ways to combat boredom so wind up doing crimes to break out of the boredom. This then can spiral then down a path to more crime. Also much of the research on alcohol and drug abuse is seen as a way people are trying to counter boredom. They are looking for an easy quick way to feel excitement. The problem is the easy quick fix leads to the ensuing addictions which then lead to deeper problems. So boredom relates to increased negativity in life.
In my work with college students I always emphasize there is so much potential in life for their personal fulfillment and doing great things. Are we robbing ourselves from all that life can offer by living boring lives of just ok? How can we reach for more potential in our lives and live more that OK? Just the word ok is intriguing to me. In naming my blog, which is the basis of this book; I thought how I often respond "OK" when I am asked how I am doing. But isn't living just OK beneath our potential? Isn't OK living kind of boring? Living in boredom is living in a cloudy maze similar to a depressive fog. Just OK living is going through the motions with no purpose or meaning. I remember during my most difficult times in my life as I would be asked How are you doing? I would smile and say I am doing OK. The outward experience did not match the inner reality.
In the book Amusing Ourself to Death, the author brings up that our oversaturated media culture has helped create higher levels of boredom. People in our media driven age need to be stimulated almost continually or they become bored. Attention spans have been reduced to the point that people can not take time to enjoy the roses on the journey of life. They can't take the time to listen. They can't take the time to enjoy the scenery around them. It is rush, rush but where are they going. Just a boring rush from one place to the next. Their lives are not improving they are just existing in ok mode. This is what I have observed in the experience of people I have worked with and students I have helped. They can be going through difficulties and say everything is alright but it is not alright. Just existing or going through hurts is not the way life is meant to be.
We are meant for more. We were created for a better life. The statement of Jesus comes to mind, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10. This is more the way I think we should be living life. Abundant living is living life to the fullest. Boredom as the earlier quote states is a robber that steals from our living and destroys and in some cases sadly, even kills. Abundant living helps us to live to our fullest God given potential. This book seeks to explore how we can move beyond boredom to living a joyful and abundant life? The journey we were meant to live.
In being open and accepting of our humanness we need to be aware from the previous discussion, that in our life journey letting boredom control us into living in ok mode has a tendency to make messes in our lives. At times we are our own worst enemy towards living an abundant life which I term Living More Than OK. We fall into wrong behaviors or harmful thought patterns that affect our behaviors. Sometimes it is a negative reaction to chance events in our lives.
As I look at my life journey overall I have had low levels of boredom but there was a time period where the levels were dangerously high. There was a point in time where I was in a stressful work environment at the same time I was experience difficulties in a personal relationship. At that same time period my mother passed away from a stroke. Then the very next year I had an older brother, who was mentally disabled due to an early childhood accident and later substance abuse; diagnosed with end stage lung cancer. He had been a chain smoker since his teen years so it wasn't a surprise. Yet with mom gone it fell on my shoulders to be making end of life decisions for him. I was in Chicago and he was in a nursing home in Akron, Ohio so with work stressful I did not need the pressure of traveling back and forth but he was my brother. Thankfully I had a cousin who was a nurse at the facility where my brother's final days were that was an emotional help to him and myself. After my brother died, work became more of a stressor which caused me to crash emotionally as I had not really dealt with the relationship problem, mom's death, and my older brother's death. Everything had been masked by keeping busy at work. For me this time was of just existing and I had moved more into depression. At work people during this whole time period of personal difficulties would ask how I was doing? I would always respond with a false smile, "I'm doing OK."
This all led up to a personal crash that was more of a deep depression, where I was too dysfunctional to work and simply stayed reclusive in my apartment. As previously stated boredom is closely linked to depression. The clouded mind, the heavy no hope spirit that weighs one down as if a heavy chain is wrapped around the body immobilizing the self. The next six months was staying in my apartment and about the only time in my life I ever watched a talk show on television. To me that was the epitome of boredom. Reduced to watching daytime talk shows. I think I even watched Oprah once. Much of the literature on boredom focuses in on the lack of meaning and purpose. I experienced that during this time period. Often wondering if life was worth living and even one time considering ending it all as I felt, what was the use of going on in life that was simply pain and loneliness.
One evening when I was at my worst I kept mulling over what is the purpose of living in such a life. I had stopped socializing at the church I had attended and my life was just a monotonous 24 hours a day in my Chicago apartment. It was also middle of Winter which can be depressing enough in Chicago with day after day of grey cloudy skies. In the middle of my evening on this most despondent day, I heard the apartment buzzer sound. For the past few days I had been ignoring phone calls and apartment buzzers. I decided to check it out. It was a Korean Pastor and his wife from one of the churches I had been attending. They were asking me out to dinner. I reluctantly agreed. The conversation that night worked as a tipping point wake up call to start relooking at meaning that God had for me to attend to in my life.
The wake up call started me in realizing ending it all was not the answer. I started to rebound as I reconnected with my social network in the churches I had been attending. Also I knew the importance of Counseling so I sought out a Counselor to work on the issues I had been burying. During the 6 months of reclusiveness it dawned on me I had not been reading which had always been a big part of my life so I used some bibliotherapy in reading books relevant to the issues I had been enduring in my life journey. During that difficult period as well, I took the time to reflect on how I wanted the rest of my life to go. Times of meditation on the Psalms and solitude of prayerful reflection on my life journey helped me make better Choices. A quote that meant much to me at this time was "Listen to the quietest of whispers of your mind ... They are telling you the choices that will help you the most." (Dr. Shad Helmstetter). It is during times of quiet solitude where we can think through our lives and our future possibilities with deeper clarity.
As I mentioned in the forward I believe in the power of music. There is power for good and bad. I enjoy instrumental music and lyrical songs that have a positive or spiritual message and believe we can learn from songs. In relation to this chapter on boredom and just existing, I want to share first of all a song by the metal band RED, called Break Me Down which speaks to me about the battle of boredom. I felt the lyrics were descriptive of the sense of nothingness, being trapped in the shadows that we experience when we are controlled by boredom. The phrase, "I find a stranger trapped within" fits well with boredom as when boredom is with us too long we do feel strange, as that is not the way we were created to be.
I am trying something in this book that in most chapters I will mention songs that I find insightful about life. I will just present some ideas about the songs. Hopefully that will entice you the reader, to go to the internet as all the songs I mention have videos on either Youtube.com or Vimeo.com. View the videos of the songs I mention and reflect your own thoughts of what the songs are saying. I feel hearing actual songs will have more meaning to you. You can even simply place the song titles in your favorite search engine as well such as Google or Bing and find videos of the songs as well. So I hope you go the extra mile and try this idea out.
Here are some of my thoughts from the lyrics as I think over our battle with boredom in life, We were made by our Creator to be people who have a need to find ourselves. We desire meaning as we have innate curiosity to grow and learn and explore new things. Observe young children, their eyes are always darting about looking at new objects in their environment with a deep curiosity. Boredom keeps us trapped in the shadows of our comfort zone and hinders us from exploring new ideas, new places, new environments, new books. Just existing makes the individual feel like nothingness is controlling them. The need is felt to break free of the sense of nothingness.
The song speaks of wanting to shine. We were created to "shine". God has given each of us talents and natural gifts to help us enjoy life more and to brighten the lives of others around us. But instead of shining with the talents we have our lives our dulled by the feelings of nothingness in boredom. It tells us there is nothing special about us, that we can't do anything. There is that word can't again. By breaking out of the nothingness of boredom we are free to shine in our talents so as to enjoy our life journey better and our shine can help brighten others lives.
Excerpted from Living More Than OK by Frank Coulson. Copyright © 2013 Frank Coulson M. Ed., M. Div., LPC. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. The Problem of Just Existing—Boredom, 1,
2. Why Consider Living More Than OK?, 12,
3. The Importance of Becoming A Bookhead, 21,
4. Living More Than OK Using Critical Thinking, 30,
5. Tapping Into Your Creativity, 44,
6. Making The Most Of Your Time/Savoring Life, 60,
7. Be Open To Happenstance, 80,
8. Dream Big and Reach Your Goals, 94,
9. Walking the Pride and Arrogance Tightrope (Self Esteem), 107,
10. Don't Stay On The Mat—Bounce Back With Resilience, 118,
11. Spiritual Beings In A Material World, 140,
12. Follow Your Purpose With Passion, 159,
13. Aim For Natural Highs, 177,
14. Thankfulness As A Lifestyle, 197,
15. Take a Risk For More Possibilities, 209,
Final Thoughts, 227,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The book Living More Than OK is very insightful. It reads easily, and it conveys very valuable information about a critical topic! In the chapter “Dream Big and Reach Your Goal,” a sentence jumped out at me: “We again go nowhere if we just write our dream down and stay seated in our recliner.” That’s a kick in the …….! >
A great book with effective insight and techniques to "spiral up" out of our negative and critical/judgmental thinking patterns. With plenty of cited resources to jump off and do more research or just more ways to savor the journey we are on.
This is a book to be read more than once as it is full of encouragement and enlightenment. The author is so generous in naming other books for the reader to explore along with Internet sites.. He is correct that music lends comfort to our lives as he introduces the reader to different artists and their songs on YouTube. The third unique part of his book are the many Bible verses that so ably fit each chapter. It is a very inspirational book that deserves a wide audience.