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Boredom: Our Old Friend

Boredom: Our Old Friend

In most of the ancient literature and philosophy, boredom is considered a personal, social and moral weakness.

Philosophers talk about boredom as proof that life is essentially meaningless, and that boredom hovers around any secure life like a shadow.

Boredom Motivates Action

Studies on human behaviour showed that some people would prefer to give themselves electric shocks than to sit quietly in a room alone.

If people are placed in environments that lack meaning or are having less of a social-ecological diversity, they are more likely to be bored and take that boredom as a call to action towards harmful activities like drugs, violence and alcohol abuse.

The Paradox Of Boredom

Boredom isn’t about not having something fun to do, but about not wanting to do the activities which are at one’s disposal.

Boredom by itself isn’t a desire, but a desire for a desire to arise. Man cannot sit quietly in a room and do nothing, and that inability to be meditatively still may be the root cause of all problems.

The awareness of boredom is a pathway towards meeting with oneself, and one is much better off being busy in an activity than to get acquainted with oneself.

Intentional Boredom

Many people have been successfully able to optimize and cultivate their boredom into something productive, even leading to self-improvement and growth.

Boredom by itself is not bad, but the negative reactions that follow are the real culprit. Writing, playing an instrument, listening to music and other hobbies are available to a bored person, in most cases.

Paralysis By Analysis

  • Perfectionists weigh all the factors in their quest to do the best thing, or to do anything in the best way, and eventually feel more boredom.
  • The people who try to minimize pain are coming up with excuses to not do a certain activity.
  • Those who want to maximize pleasure are not concerned with the adjacent pain.

Both extremes lead to boredom.

The Neutral Signal With Many Outcomes

Boredom is a signal to your body that the current activity is not meaningful and we should be doing something else, or be somewhere else. Many recent studies have associated boredom with the urge to flaunt social distancing rules and quarantine regulations.

Boredom by itself is a neutral signal but can affect a person in varied ways depending on his life situation and the current environment.

Unplugging From Stimulation

  • We have long forgotten the big stretches of time when we have nothing to do, as we are never disengaged from entertainment, work, or any kind of frenetic activity.
  • Having nothing to do is an unfamiliar state to many and is associated with being bored. One does not have to be afraid of having absolutely nothing to do.
  • One needs to calm down and try to practice mindfulness. It also helps to be less judgemental and more patient when boredom hits.

Boredom Is Like Pain

Boredom by itself does not feel great, but just like pain, it is a body’s emotional call to action. It nudges us to look for an alternate set of behaviours and try to add more significance to our activities.

We normally try to balance paying attention and finding meaning, wanting to do something but not wanting to do anything in particular.

Time Is Misunderstood

In the end, it is how society provides basic upbringing to an individual. In most cases, it focuses on maximum productivity, utility and time management, converting time into money-making or pleasure-seeking, rather than just living through time, not doing anything.

People have a lot of time, but they are spending it playing video games, watching television or streaming services, or being on social media. The constant stimulation and the need to be entertained is the root cause of boredom.

Boredom: Many Representations Of One Feeling

Boredom was called acedia in the Middle Ages and was considered a vice, something that happens to those who neglect their religious duties.

In the last two centuries, boredom has been tagged as an ailment, something which happened due to industrialization or capitalism.

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