“It takes a lot of skills to be virtuous without being boring.”- Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
I first came across this quote when I read Taleb’s book of Aphorisms, Bed of Procrustes. He has four other non-boring books he jointly calls the Incerto. You should check them out when you can. He is one of my favorite thinkers. I think deep down I mentioned the title of the book and all the other needless information to make you think I have also read some pretty good books. *Smiles.
Anyway, when I saw this quote I took a step back and began to think. Are virtuous people really boring? After a while, I thought the answer was yes. Most of the virtuous people I know are very boring. I then also thought, what could be the implications of such boredom? Wouldn’t it mean that few people will want to replicate them? Who would want to be boring if there is another brave new world? In Ghana, staunch Christians are called ‘Crife’. When someone is ‘Crife’ that person is reciting the Ten Commandment every morning. When someone is reciting the Ten Commandment every morning and appears to be living it, you will admit that he is doing almost everything right. I mean a completely good human being. But you can also equate ‘Crife’ to hopelessly boring.
On 31 st December, my Bishop organized a party for us the young folks. Before the party was to start, a friend called me to tell the Bishop to push the time for the party a little later. She thought starting too early could lead to the party getting boring. I told her not to worry because it will not be so. I knew this because I know my Bishop. If a man wasn’t boring, it was him. At the party we danced like our lives depended on it. Everyone agreed I was the best dancer at the party. Maybe not really the best, but the most passionate. I know you get it. We had some folks who had just joined the church with us there. I could see they were having a good time. My mind went to the question of how to be virtuous and fun at the same time.
Although minority rule is influential in the spread of ideas, I think ideas can also spread because of the individuals who share them. We are more likely to follow a leader who is charismatic than one who does not know how to speak. Charisma is non-boring. For virtuous people to have their ideas replicated it is vital that they are able to attract others with their person. They should be interesting. Besides, being non-boring makes you happier (I must say, I don’t think happiness is the most important emotion). You get to try new things and meet new people. I mentioned the new members in our church having had a good time because looking at them I thought, would I stay in a church that I could chill in or one I couldn’t? Well, you know the answer.
I decided to find a few ways we can all easily keep our virtue without being boring. I rephrased the first four from wikihow. The title of the article is How to be a less boring person. You can read the explanations from there. Following is the list on how to be non-boring:
- Be interested in different kinds of people and places.
- Learn a new skill or hobby.
- Travel to new and exciting locations.
- Join interesting clubs or groups.
- Be radically honest: This is my addition. I think nothing makes one non-boring like this. Honesty as a virtue in itself makes you interesting. This is because it is difficult to be honest. Truth can be painful to admit to yourself. It is for this reason that almost every culture appreciates it. You will be interesting when you are comfortable admitting your weaknesses. Even making fun of yourself. People know you are real when you do that. I think honesty, like humility, is a continuous work in progress. No one can say, “I have never lied.”
- Take risks: Another addition of mine. I think the first four keys to how to be non-boring can be summed up to- take risks. Going out of your comfort zone, whether it is to start a business, meet new people, or learn a new skill means taking risks. When you take personal risks you have skin in the game. Therefore, when you are talking to others, you speak from experience. You’ll be so original that it will be impossible for you to be boring. Take risks with your ideas too. Let them out like I am doing! We can only learn when we are wrong.
- Stop complaining: Complaining never solved any problem. If there is a question that needs an answer get off your ass and start finding a solution. Complaining, especially without efforts to correct problems, literally makes me want to faint. I am damn serious. I mean, take a problem like unemployment. You have seen a person who wants a job and is complaining every day that there are no jobs. You don’t want to be around such a person. He is so negative, annoying and ultra-boring. He may be right, but it does not make him any less boring! Besides, his attitude does not solve his problem.
I think being virtuous and non-boring is a vital mix. These are ways I think a virtuous person can adopt to be less boring. Let me know ways you suggest to solve the virtue-boring question.
God be with you till we meet again!