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Slug: ennui
Release date: January 01, 2022
Source: KearceComTammy Kearce
Word count: 824  - Plain text version available by request.
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Click here to watch "The Ennui Effect" video.

Are you tired and frustrated?

Do you need more time and energy?

Are you busy yet bored?

If you answered yes to any or all of the questions above, you are not alone. More than 70 percent of Americans report feeling the very same way. 

The ennui effect

Ennui – (French: ahn-wee) a mood of deep weariness and discontent – is caused by overindulgence, not in food or alcohol but overindulgence in all the good things life has to offer: our work, our family, our home, our pets, our cars, our toys, etc. In other words, our discontent is a side-effect of having it all. 

We are living the dream and it is crushing us, sapping our time and energy, leaving us drained and dispirited.  We are so busy maintaining our lifestyle, that we do not have time and energy to enjoy our life. In fact, most Americans report physical and psychological symptoms related to ennui:

(Source: American Psychological Association / American Institute of Stress)


·        Low energy/ fatigue

·        Anxiety/ stress

·        Insomnia

·        Decreased motivation

·        Lack of passion and purpose

Historically ennui was akin to boredom and angst, but modern-day ennui has evolved into an increasingly pervasive, destructive force.

Tail on fire

Modern ennui is characterized by what I refer to as the “tail-on-fire” syndrome. When in the grip of this syndrome, we run around day after day with our tail on fire trying desperately to put it out while struggling to enjoy all that we have. Many of us believe that in today’s world we do not have to choose what we want. We can have it all. But that belief is inherently flawed and simply not true. By trying to have it all, we are actually giving it all away. Our time, our energy and our passion are valuable, limited resources and easily depleted.  

At the root

A multitude of bad habits spring from the roots of ennui.

Struggling to break free of its grasp, we long for excitement and adventure. Self-destructive habits such as procrastination, road rage, even drug and alcohol abuse are examples of this misplaced anger and frustration that so many American adults experience.

We know that putting things off until the last moment, arguing with others and waking up hungover and full of regret are toxic for both us and those we love. But such actions deliver a surge of energy and adrenaline that gets our heart rate and blood pressure rising while feeding our need for excitement in much the same way fast food feeds our hunger.

We often participate in these self-destructive, stress-inducing behaviors in our misguided search for adventure because anxiety, anger, fear and excitement all produce the same adrenal response in the body and are accompanied by the same physiological changes:


·        Shallow breathing,

·        rapid heartbeat,

·        heightened awareness,

a.k.a pure energy.

This powerful energy, produced in a response known as fight or flight, is the body’s way of preparing us to either defend ourselves or flee in the face of danger. However, these dramatic moments of our own making do not usually allow us to engage in battle or flee the scene. So, we end up frustrated and exhausted, like a caged bird beating its wings but accomplishing nothing. It is energy turned toxic.

How to beat ennui

There are things that we can do to beat ennui, and the first one is to find our inspiration and either uncover or discover our goals. I say uncover because sometimes our goals have been sitting there covered in dust for years. So, we must get them out, brush them off and make them a priority in our lives. From there we have to communicate that intention first to ourselves and then to others because if our goals are not a priority to us, they will certainly not be a priority to others. And then we have to get organized and put solid structures in place to move us closer to our goals every single day.

To learn more about how to beat ennui and conquer the dark side of having it all, visit TammyTalk.com for fresh, free resources.

About Tammy Kearce

Tammy Kearce author of the Everyday Vacay e-seminar series
Tammy Kearce is a writerteacher and public speaker .
As a professor of communication and social science at NWFSC (Northwest Florida State College), she has taught valuable life skills to more than 3,000 students spanning two decades. She has also developed a three-step process designed to help working women cultivate health and happiness. And last year, she produced and published the Everyday Vacay Seminar Series.