Learn more about problemsolving with this collection
How to create a positive work environment
Techniques for cultivating gratitude and mindfulness at work
How to find purpose in your work
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.**
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.
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.
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.
"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. " ~ Abraham Lincoln
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