Escape Boredom – Leonardo da Vinci and a Guide to the Good Life

The “well-employed life” is what I leave you with this Friday. So many of us who are high sensation seeking highly sensitive people (HSS/HSPs) continually battle with staying “well-employed.” By well employed, I do not imply working for someone else to earn a wage or salary; rather, being well-employed is to be engaged on projects that are of intrinsic interest, that are challenging, and that allow us to fill our precious time in this life by being present in the here and now.
The notion of the modern “arrival” myth is a powerful one driven by vast consumer interests that wish to use all of us as profit centers from cradle to grave (even beyond). By communicating the idea that one can only be happy by having more stuff, better stuff, newer stuff, we set up a never-ending treadmill of acquisitions. Of course, in order to acquire new things we must slave away for others in work we may not enjoy, that may not offer engagement with out intrinsic interests, or, in fact, may not be suited to us in any way at all. Yet, we will do it to have more stuff, to pay for the stuff we think we ought to have, and to avoid being seen as different in the eyes of others. Conformity is an extremely powerful tool.
Now, we know that HSPs tend to theoretically pay less attention to the influence of culture but is that true for you? Or do you subscribe to the same general notion that if we only have X, Y, or Z we would be “happy?” There is much to be gained from being aware of the fundamental fallacy of living only for the future and learning to find an awareness of the ever-present NOW. The Buddhists teach us about the necessity of being in the present as the only truly worthwhile moment.
I am glad the accompanying video on this post eventually moved to discussing Flow, since the flow state is all about the NOW. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the originator of the Flow concept but the experience itself is as old as humanity itself. Csikszentmihalyi has pulled it together in a neat, tidy way that can be explained to others so it may be taught for its worth and value to human potential and human realization.
The Flow state, if you are not familiar with it is when we taken on a challenging task (but not beyond our abilities), where we lose track of time, where the work provides immediate feedback on our efforts, where action and awareness marge, and where the work is worth doing for its own sake. HSS/HSPs are likely keenly aware of being such a state as it is the only state we can be in where all anxiety and boredom are relieved, where all other concerns become secondary, and where our innately creative natures find perfect application.
Consider, for example, what it would be like to construct a small building, assuming you have basic carpentry skills such as measuring, cutting fastening, etc. Think of the challenge it would present to you to conceptualize the dimensions, how you would need to work out 1,001 details along the way, and how you would need to focus intently to accomplish each section of the project. The same would apply to many other projects, construction is just as example. Imagine the growth that would happen as you learn how to tackle a surprise unknown. You might have to research how to solve your problem in a book, view some YouTube videos, or ask a more experienced friend or special interest group on FaceBook, but you would bring to bear the skills and abilities to solve your issue, or you would fail and have to try again. In either case, you would learn and grow as a person in confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.
We high sensation seeking HSPs tend to be far more fueled by a need to continually reinvent ourselves than do HSPs, who may also list boredom as a top issue. The HSS/HSP may be very high in new experience and novelty seeking, one of the four core aspects of the trait, as well as high in boredom susceptibility, another core aspect. When those two converge they tend to exert a powerful driving force that refuses to be held down for long. When one is high in novelty seeking and boredom susceptibility the drive is to seek the new, the unfamiliar, the interesting and unusual.
We also experience Flow states when we encounter the new and novel, when we bring our action and awareness into a singular focus of here and now. Flow is for everyone and will greatly alleviate tension, stress, anxiety, depression, fear, and the doldrums. Adapting our lives so they resemble Da Vinci’s “well- employed” status is our task as we each make choices about the quality of today and tomorrow.
How will you arrange and adapt your life to reflect an ever-present NOW?

“Let Them Scream Whatever They Want” | Marcus Aurelius on Panic

The Stoics have so much to teach highly sensitive people in this time of crisis and panic. I find myself turning to their wisdom as old historical human patterns repeat again and again…

New Study on Sensitive Men

Dear Highly Sensitive Men,
I am currently serving on the dissertation committee for Daniel Miller, who is a Ph.D. Candidate in Counseling and Counselor Education at the University of Rochester. Daniel’s dissertation study focuses on understanding the identity development of highly sensitive men. Your perspective and experiences as a highly sensitive man could provide valuable insight for Daniel into what the highly sensitive identity means to highly sensitive men, and how highly sensitive men navigate gender socialization experiences to help counselors, educators, and others working with highly sensitive boys and men have a better understanding of your unique experiences.  Please note this study only seeks highly sensitive men who grew up in the US.
Attached to this email is an information letter further detailing the research study. If you are interested in participating in this research study or have any questions about the study, please feel free to contact Daniel directly at
Please help me help Daniel by sharing this post to your social media and to any HS men you may know!
Thank you!
An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of the Identity Development of
Highly Sensitive Men
Principal Investigator: Daniel Miller
This form describes a research study that is being conducted by Daniel Miller under the supervision of Martin Lynch, Ph.D. from the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education and Human Development.
The purpose of this study is to develop a deeper understanding of the experiences of highly sensitive men as they relate to their identity development as highly sensitive men. Specifically, this research study is interested in understanding more about what the highly sensitive identity means to highly sensitive men, and how highly sensitive men navigate gender socialization, to better understand the unique experiences of the highly sensitive male population.
If you decide to take part in this study, you will be asked to participate in the following data collection and analysis procedures:
● Complete 3 short questionnaires. These questionnaires will ask basic information about your identities and personality and help determine whether you are an appropriate fit for this study. Together, they should only take about 10 minutes to complete. If you fit the necessary criteria for this particular study, you will proceed with the following study procedures below. If you don’t meet the necessary criteria, unfortunately, you won’t be eligible for this particular study and you won’t proceed to the next steps. This study focuses on collecting data from a demographically diverse population of highly sensitive men, therefore primary reasons for being excluded from moving forward in the study would be if your particular demographic group happens to be overrepresented in the data already collected.
● Next, you will participate in 3 interviews. The 3 interviews will be spaced no shorter than 3 days apart, but no longer than 1 week apart to allow for the optimum time for the researcher to process the interviews. Each interview will last approximately 1 hour and will take place over Zoom video conferencing, but have the option of being audio-only depending upon your preference. Interviews will be audio-recorded only using voice recording applications. The first interview will focus on you describing your life story growing up as a highly sensitive boy/man, the second will focus on your current experiences as a highly sensitive man, and the third will focus on understanding what the highly sensitive identity means to you.
● Finally, you will periodically provide feedback on the primary investigator’s developing understanding of your interviews throughout the data analysis process. This will help ensure that the primary investigator is understanding and representing your voice accurately in the findings for the research study. There will be 3 requests for feedback throughout the data analysis. These feedback requests will take place over email.
We estimate that approximately 10-25 subjects will take part in this study. Your participation will take course over a 3-week period for interview procedures, with 3 feedback requests taking place periodically over the course of the next 6 months after interviews are completed. Study participants are required to participate in all interview procedures within a 3 week period. Participants who are unable to complete all interviews over the 3 week period may be withdrawn from the study by the primary investigator.
There is a small chance that some of the interview questions may feel personal or make you feel uncomfortable. You may skip any questions you don’t want to answer. Additionally, if you experience discomfort in interviews, the primary investigator will provide you with resources to assist with processing this discomfort. There are no other expected risks to you for participating in this study. There are also no expected benefits.
You will not be paid for participating in this study. There will be no cost to you to participate in this study.
The University of Rochester makes every effort to keep the information collected from you private. In order to do so, all study data will be stored in a secure manner. Regarding the use of audio recordings for interviews are recorded for transcription and analysis purposes only and will not be released in any publication or report; they will be destroyed once the analysis is complete. Only the investigators will have access to your individual responses. Sometimes, however, researchers need to share information that may identify you with people that work for the University or regulators. If this does happen we will take precautions to protect the information you have provided. Additionally, results of the research may be presented at meetings or in publications, but your name will not be used.
Feedback requests will occur over email. Transmitting your information by e-mail has a number of risks that you should consider. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
a) E-mail can be circulated, forwarded, stored electronically and on paper, and broadcast to unintended recipients.
b) E-mail senders can easily misaddress an e-mail.
c) Backup copies of e-mail may exist even after the sender or the recipient has deleted his or her copy.
d) Employers and on-line services have a right to inspect e-mail transmitted through their systems.
e) E-mail can be intercepted, altered, forwarded, or used without authorization or detection.
f) E-mail can be used to introduce viruses into computer systems.
Conditions for the Use of E-mail
The researcher cannot guarantee but will use reasonable means to maintain security and confidentiality of e-mail information sent and received. You and researcher must consent to the following conditions:
a) E-mail is not appropriate for urgent or emergency situations. The researcher cannot guarantee that any particular e-mail will be read and responded to.
b) E-mail must be concise. You should schedule an appointment if the issue is too complex or sensitive to discuss via e-mail.
c) E-mail communications between you and the researcher will be filed in your research record.
d) Your messages may also be delegated to any member of the study team for response.
e) The researcher will not forward subject-identifiable e-mails outside of the University of Rochester and Affiliates without your prior written consent, except as authorized or required by law.
f) You should not use e-mail for communication regarding sensitive medical information.
g) It is your responsibility to follow up and/or schedule an appointment if warranted.
Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. You are free not to participate or to withdraw at any time, for whatever reason. No matter what decision you make, there will be no penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled.
For more information or questions about this research you may call Daniel Miller at (315) 719-7188. Please contact the University of Rochester Research Subjects Review Board at 265 Crittenden Blvd., CU 420628, Rochester, NY 14642, Telephone (585) 276-0005 or (877) 449-4441 for the following reasons:
● You wish to talk to someone other than the research staff about your rights as a research subject;
● To voice concerns about the research;
● To provide input concerning the research process;
● In the event the study staff could not be reached.