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The old saying “Familiarity Breeds Contempt” has its origins in Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Lion.”   Now, I personally don’t really buy into this as a universal truism.  If this saying were a universal absolute then friendships, marriages, any kind of relationship would be impossible to maintain for any kind of extended period.

I know that the argument can be made that, given the divorce rates in this country, perhaps there is some truth to it.  I argue that the divorce rate is due to other factors that have more to do with societal pressures and general immaturity, but that’s a discussion for another day.

However, I think that with a little reworking this particular saying may have some meaning after all.  I would argue that it could be better defined as “Monotony breeds Contempt” or better yet “Monotony breeds Boredom.”  Now, the saying is applicable in a more universal way.

In regards to relationships, whenever we allow ourselves to fall into a rut, doing the same things over and over, day after day we begin to get bored with life.  That’s exactly why it is so important to break out and do something different from time to time.  Go see that play.  Take a road trip just to eat at that restaurant you love in Philly.  Pack up the family on the spur of the moment and do something different.  I know I’ve beaten on this point before, but it is an important one.

But, the reworked saying moves beyond our relationships to every aspect of our lives.  The human mind is a complex mechanism, capable of great things.  When the only stimulation it is given is in the form of repetitive, monotonous tasks, we quickly become bored, and if the problem persists our cognitive functions undergoes a certain amount of atrophy. 

Unfortunately, much of the work many of us do on a daily basis becomes so routine that we simply switch off our brains and run on autopilot.  The more we do this in one aspect of our lives, the easier it is to fall into the same mode in other areas as well.  Before you know it, you;re coating through life barely thinking about anything that you are doing, practically moving through the world on rails.

So, I encourage everyone to try to break things up.  Do a crossword puzzle to get your mind moving.  Take up a hobby of some sort that gets your mind working outside the monotony of your job.  Do whatever it takes to keep yourself from getting bolted onto those rails.

Life is far too precious to allow it to simply pass you by like your some sort of amusement ride animatronic.

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One Comment

  1. Your Autopilot reference reminds me very much of the movie “Click” when Adam Sandler “fast forwarded” through the boring parts or the ones he did not want to do.


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