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Sam Woolfe - Feb 20, 2020

How to Not Be Bored

Boredom is one of those uncomfortable facts about life. It’s part of what makes us human. Boredom is that nagging feeling of dissatisfaction, dullness, and restlessness that visits us as soon as we don’t have anything interesting to keep us occupied. While it would be impossible to never feel bored, there are certainly steps you can take to feel less bored and feel that your life is, for the most part, more engaging than boring.

If you ever find yourself feeling that you’re bored with life, then it’s worth exploring what specifically it is about your life that is making you feel this way and to think about how you can instil your days with activities that genuinely interest you.

Understand Where Boredom Comes From

As already stated, boredom is part of the human condition. If you simply sit with barely any form of stimulus, you will likely feel bored fairly quickly. You will often notice this whenever you’re in that space between activities – there’s this restless feeling, this itching to be stimulated by something. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t gain control over much of the boredom we experience in our lives. After all, many of us get into ruts of doing things that we might regularly describe as mundane and uninteresting. This kind of boredom arises from a mismatch between the activity or lifestyle in question and our authentic desires, values, or goals.

You might be bored at work if it is too rigid and routine and you feel you need more creative and dynamic work. The truth is that many of us derive the most meaning out of life when we can make a livelihood out of creative ideas and inspiration. If work ends up stifling your creative impulse, then it can make you feel incredibly bored. Outside of work, you might feel bored in your relationship, that it’s lost its spark, with you and your partner simply going through the motions of a relationship but not actually energising one another. Your evening routine and weekend routine may also seem stale, with your life feeling like Groundhog Day. Does any of this ring true? Well, here’s what you can do about it.

Overcoming the Problem of Boredom

We often go to great lengths to avoid or pacify boredom. Unfortunately, many of our attempts to escape boredom can be unhealthy. Whenever we feel bored, we might feel an urge to drink or take drugs, stay up late on the internet, or binge on junk food. In moderation, these coping strategies might not cause any problems, but when they become a regular way of dealing with boredom, there is a risk that it could affect your mental and physical health.

It’s important to ask why you feel so bored in the first place. If you’re troubled by intense boredom because you spend all day at a job you find tedious and monotonous, then it’s no wonder you’ll find yourself hungry for stimulation at work and at the end of the workday. It’s what you’re craving. Tedious jobs can, of course, be hard to leave, especially when they provide a decent income, generous benefits, and a comfortable life. It’s also difficult to leave a boring job when you are unsure of what sort of work you would genuinely find interesting.

It can be a bit anxiety-inducing to start applying for new jobs, especially when you’ve been doing your job for a long time, but consider the bigger picture: would you rather be comfortable and bored in the long-term or slightly uncomfortable in the short-term (while changing jobs) to possibly feel engaged at work and fulfilled in the long-term? Assuming it is feasible for you to change jobs, the rational answer to this question should be clear. If you’re completely uncertain about what kind of work you would look forward to doing, think about what organisations you respect or value, the conversations you enjoy having, what you like reading, the skills you are passionate about building, or the impact you would like to make on others or society at large. These considerations can help guide your decision-making.

When it comes to boring relationships, romantic or otherwise, think about what it is you really want from your social life. Most of us don’t simply go out and meet others because we want to avoid the loneliness and boredom that comes from being on our own for too long (although that is definitely sometimes a motivation). Instead, we tend to crave deep connections with others, connections that are emotional, honest, loving, fun, and conducive to mutual growth. Stale relationships are a sign that it’s time to branch out and find others who engage your interests.

Finally, while there is undoubtedly value in having a routine in life, it’s also true that having too much sameness can, for many people, be stifling. This is particularly true when you find your routines no longer bring you the level of satisfaction they used to. Like with the other methods for overcoming boredom, adopting more interesting routines and discovering new things to do often require that you step outside of your comfort zone. But any initial discomfort is worth the possibility of finding a new passion or enjoying a novel experience. Even if you don’t end up with a long-term hobby, the more you try things in an open, exploratory kind of way, life will still become a whole lot more interesting.

Written by Sam Woolfe

I'm a freelance writer who is interested in mindfulness, mental health and the evolving concept of masculinity.

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