I have a new favorite word. Ennui.
If you’re a super-sophisticate then you probably already know this word. For the rest of us, however, let me share what I just learned. Ennui is a French word pronounced awn-wee. Dictionary.com defines the word as a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom: The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.
I first read the word in this Seth Godin blog post where Godin points to consumer’s ennui as an endless frustration for business owners. No matter what you give them, consumers will never be satisfied and will always want more.
There’s two reasons this caught my attention tonight.
First is my person ennui. I am rarely satisfied. I’m easily bored. I often find myself weary and discontent and loosing interest all too quickly. I love starting new projects, learning new things, facing new challenges. But I’m soon ready to move on to the next thing. This is both a strength and a weakness. I remember being asked by a professor why I was leaving the first church I preached at. It was a great church. We loved the people there; and they loved us. The answer I gave the professor was the only honest thing I could say. “I’m bored”.
The second reason Godin’s blog caught my attention was his closing paragraph where he offered a solution to consumer ennui. He writes:
Along the way, marketers of stuff have tried to offer that stuff as a replacement to the thing that children/consumers/employees/customers/spouses really seek, which is connection and meaning and belonging and love.
What we all long for is authentic relationships. To be needed. To be loved for who we are. To be accepted. To be challenged to be better than we could ever be on our own.
Sounds a lot like heaven to me. Until then we’ll all have a holy ennui. Holy discontent.