Being bored with life is no laughing matter.
It is one of the least discussed human emotions yet its a big issue experienced by all at some point and deserves a blog post on the subject.
Clearly it is not as uplifting or positive as writing about other personal development subjects because in many aspects its the flip of happiness but I believe its an important component and can be an early radar warning system to situations that will do you no good thus aiding the path to greater understanding and self development.
The first recorded expression of the word boredom is in the novel Bleak House (the title says it all! ) by Charles Dickins written in 1852.
Described as an ‘unpleasant transient state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity.’ As we lack stimulation from our environment or from within we become bored. Boredom can be nothing more than our frustration with a predictable scenario such as having to queue at the shopping checkout or listening to a dull speaker or can be rather more complex in character rooted in aspects of our consciousness which is subjective and which if not addressed leads to depression and spiritual despair.
Let’s start with some surprising facts and conclusions about boredom from general research and psychological studies carried out;
- The average Brit is bored for at least 6 hours a week . Now over the average life span of 60.5 years that adds up to more than 2 years of being bored. What a waste!
- Boredom can be a symptom of clinical depression or a form of learned helplessness.
- It has been linked to pathological gambling behaviour .
- There is a correlation between drug addiction and alcohol abuse which has also been linked to low dopamine levels within the brain prompting the desire for an elated state which comes around through participation in drink and drugs. When the drug wears off there is a corresponding deflation in mood and hence the need to go chasing the next high.
- Boredom develops a higher propensity to anger and aggressive behaviour.
- It is more prevalent in men than women which has been linked to the inclination of needing more of an external stimulant to be happy.
- Some tests suggest extroverts are more susceptible to boredom, again, linked to this idea that the external environment aids greater stimulation than the internal focus.
- Creative people don’t do boredom.
- Boredom has been linked to a pathological inability to focus, for example, within those individuals with A.D.H.D.
Whilst it is often assumed that those more likely to get bored are intelligent types and thus need constant intellectual stimulation to elevate their moods we often categorise what we assume is intelligent or otherwise by inadequate means. Many children for instance are diagnosed as slow learners under the current education system but this maybe nothing more than the system which fails to stimulate their creativity.
What is clear from all this data is evidence that boredom in many respects is a state of mind and a man made trap.
Understandably many low skill, low paid jobs don’t exactly boost happiness levels but for white collar workers in the conceptual knowledge age where the burden of monotonous , repetitive and dull work is removed the issue of boredom becomes subjective.
Boredom can be a good thing if we look underneath to observe, reflect and understand the underlying reasons for it.
1. Is it the result of repetitive, dull work with a lack of opportunity to be challenged and to grow by stretching outside the comfort zone?
To get into a flow state, the antithesis of a bored state is when a person’s skills match the level of challenge presented by the work environment and when a task has clear goals and immediate feedback. If the task is too easy it leads to boredom and if too complex, anxiety.
2. Is it because you’ve been so efficient that you’ve eliminated all distractions out of your life or completely the reverse that you have so many distractions you’ve become an efficient machine that functions and sleepwalks through live but is hardly present, fully alive and in that creative joyful state come what may.In this case it points to the work life balance being all wrong.When we fall out of balance our energy becomes blocked so just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you aren’t bored with your life.
3. How much of this boredom state is a result of your inability to utilise your creative energy ?
A key component to meaningful and purposeful work and life is our ability to have complete autonomy over it. If your focus is completely on paying off debts or following out instructions then there will be little chance for creative expression, unless, you decide to change all that with a pursuit of a hobby or interest that fulfills that need or go into business for yourself.
4. Is it a lack of any deeper meaning and real purpose in one’s life ?
Do you have big lofty goals that are aimed at changing your world and the world around you or are you absorbed and preoccupied with the utility stuff, working harder to get there one day and enjoy the fruits of your labour but meanwhile being bored shitless doing socially acceptable, soul numbing dross. If you identify with this then you have aimlessness sickness where you’re either doing what you don’t really want to or you’re not doing what you really want to.
Having identified what’s really behind the boredom issue here are some solutions to get you back in balance;
Kick-starting your return to happiness-5 ways to be happy.
1. Make a list of 100 things you’d like to do before you hit retirement age then prioritise them and break them into 5 year cycles or 6 monthly if in later years!
The list should be a balanced one taking all your needs into consideration from family and relationships through to growth and self development as well as work.
Keep the list in a prominent place and review annually by giving the focus and the time to whats most important to you.
2. List the reasons why you love your work……if you’re struggling that is a rather big clue here.
3.Get organised- there is nothing like a spring clean of home and office to cleanse the mind and boost your well being.
4. Get active because its far more difficult to be bored when you’re on the go and great for getting those endorphins flowing.
5. Practice mindfulness by slowing down to observe your thought patterns and building that conscious awareness so you can let them pass without putting any judgment on them but building your understanding of your emotional state at the same time.
When we find something and someone to live for and get present and focus the mind it can do wonders for our happiness level.
If you enjoyed this then I ‘d be grateful if you could pass this on or drop me a comment and let me know how you’ve ever dealt with your boredom.
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