Quietness and Happiness: Bertand Russell’s Fear of Boredom and Excitement

by Christian Parreno

The special kind of boredom from which modern urban populations suffer is intimately bound up with their separation from the life of Earth. It makes life hot and dusty and thirsty, like a pilgrimage in the desert. Among those who are rich enough to choose their way of life, the particular brand of unendurable boredom from which they suffer is due, paradoxical as this may seem, to their fear of boredom. In flying from the fructifying kind of boredom, they fall a prey to the other far worse kind. A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live.

Russell, Bertrand (1968/1930) “Boredom and Excitement” in The Conquest of Happiness. New York: Bantam Books. 43