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How to channel boredom | Psyche Guides

https://psyche.co/guides/when-boredom-strikes-respond-by-rediscovering-your-goals

psyche.co

How to channel boredom | Psyche Guides
Feeling bored? Learn how to use that discomfort to switch up a gear and regain control over your life and your interests

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Boredom

Boredom

Boredom is not characterised by the absence of desire. It involves desperately wanting to do something, but not finding anything that can satisfy that restlessness.

When you're bored, whatever you are busy with now seems unfulfilling in some way. You may be unfulfilled by the daily repetitive work that never changes. Boredom is prodding you to explore better options for becoming engaged.

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Boredom can be useful

When you experience boredom, it is telling you that you've become superfluous and pointless and that you need to reclaim the authorship of your life.

Psychologists call this a crisis of agency. You've become passive and let life happen to you instead of being engaged with the world on your terms, using your skills and talents in a purposeful way.

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Don't linger at boredom

Proneness to boredom is the result of difficulties with self-regulation. Those who are inclined to boredom may feel that boredom is a prison.

Instead of using boredom as a passage to something new, they get stuck and struggle to move on, leading to depression and anxiety, problems with drug and alcohol use, and gambling.

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The Goldilocks Zone

Many of us want circumstances that are the perfect fit. Just like Goldilocks, we don't want it too hot or too cold. We want it just right.

It's hard to engage fully with tasks that are either too much or too little; too challenging or too simple. The mismatch can leave you bored. However, when you find yourself in the middle of the Goldilocks Zone, you get to a state of flow, where you are perfectly challenged and growing.

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Reclaim your agency - relax

The message of boredom is that you need to reclaim your agency. No one else can do it for you. It is up to you.

Boredom makes you restless and agitated. To overcome this agitation, start with a few deep breaths. You can also redirect that restless feeling by doing physical exercise, such as going for a walk.

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Transform boredom through acceptance

Try to accept boredom as an uncomfortable, but necessary emotion to point you back to a well-lived life.

Regain perspective by spending time in nature or talking with friends. Alternatively, meditation might be useful.

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Self-reflect and choose your goals

After calming down, try to focus on the possible rewards of the things you could be doing. It will give you enthusiasm for the possibilities.

To get started, it is useful to set aside time for self-reflection; to regroup and address key questions about your life. Who are you? What do you value in life?

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Goals that matter to you

Take note that passive entertainment, such as social media, news feeds, games, and streaming services, can make you a passive consumer and prevent you from actively pursuing the goals that matter to you.

If you are unsure what matters to you, it might help to make a list of personal values. Attach realistic and actionable goals that further your personal values. Baking, fixing a bicycle, or reading a book are good boredom remedies if they give expression to your goals.

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Getting over paralysis analysis

People that feel bored often suffer from 'paralysis analysis': The desire to do the right thing the right way can prevent them from getting started. They easily lose sight of their goal.

To avoid this, once you have some goals in mind, try to just do it**. Once you get started, the boredom should fade.**

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When stuck in boredom, a change of perspective can help

For example, try to imagine yourself as a fly on the wall and explore your boredom from an outsiders perspective.

Another way is to turn your boring situation into an engaging one. If you have to do repetitive work, you could try to beat your personal best time. Or if it is a school project on a dull topic, imagine yourself as a detective working a case.

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Reaching a state of flow

To find a state of flow, your goals need to push you to the limits of your skillset.

When your skills are well-matched to the task at hand, it feels deeply rewarding.

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The Wait Mode: Being Stuck In A Limbo

We hate waiting as it breaks the day’s flow, putting us in limbo. This wait mode is what gets to us, as it pulls us to the present moment, which we are trying to avoid most of the time by remaining distracted in the world. This time can be used to unlock the default mode of our brain, using daydreaming and our imagination network.

We need to embrace this forced present tense of our lives, that holds us in front of ourselves. This precious time is full of infinite possibilities to make the future even better.

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A consumer spends money and follows trends while an investor puts capital to work and takes advantage of trends.

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Discover if you’re a consumer

  • You feel the need to reward yourself after a hard day of work by buying new clothes/accessories or eating out.
  • Lifestyle creep controls your expenses. When your income increases, you buy a new car or a more expensive house.
  • You reserve your credit card for unexpected expenses instead of using an emergency fund.
  • You rationalize using a credit card to buy things you might not purchase with a debit card.
  • When something is on sale, you feel the urge to buy it, even if you wouldn't have otherwise bought it.
  • You follow social trends.
  • You don't think you have money to invest or the time for it.

The chronic consumer

Consumers will remain consumers, even if their income increases.

  • Negative spending habits can destroy your financial life, and disrupt your mental health and relationships.
  • Credit card debt can put stress on the quality of your life an contribute to unhappiness.

Tsundoku

Tsundoku

Many of us have a desire to read. We buy books, but then the demands of work and family catch up with us, and we never get round to reading the books. The Japanese calls it tsundoku

Finding the time for books

To give books the attention and time it deserves in your life, you need to make it a higher priority. It means you have to change your habits and routines to allow more reading.

Sometimes, your reading needs only a little encouragement to displace something that should be lower down on your list. For example, to forgo watching television and reading a book instead.

The reading habit: Succeeding long-term

  • First consider why you want to read more books. Reading should be enjoyable for you because you find them entertaining, calming, stimulating, and fascinating. Once the habit is set, you can also read other things you "should" read.
  • Change your surroundings to make it easier for you to grab a book. Reading apps can be prominent on your phone. Physical books should be in places that you most often frequent.
  • Create modest reading goals. Permit yourself to start with reading one page a day. Once the habit is established, you can increase it.
  • Once you have laid the foundation for your new reading habit, create an action association, such as reading on the train to work or with your mid-morning coffee or dinner.