Boredom: What is it and how to avoid it


We have all experienced boredom; it is unpleasant, frustrating and makes us feel useless.Boredom is a significant phenomenon worth our attention. The sense of boredom creeps in such situations as waiting for your delayed flight or the bus or having to perform unfulfilling tasks. One could even say that its a kind of paralysis in some cases as you feel unable to escape boredom. In times of boredom we may take wrong decisions (maybe that´s how we got the expression ” idle hands are the devil´s playground”).

It seems that the more alert and conscious you are, the likelihood of feeling boredom is increased. The more alert you become, the more you will realise that some situations are just a repetition; are stale and have nothing to offer to your self development. In such circumstances boredom may set in. Individuals on auto-pilot, accepting anything that is served to them as the truth and immersed in routine seem to not experience boredom as much. 

Boredom emerges when we do not know what to do with ourselves. Boredom and restlessness are related. In a state of high arousal when we have energy but have no clarity on where to devote it; namely lacking the ability to focus. For example, you may have a lot of interesting things on your plate but you engage all of your energy on pondering about the future. In this way you transform the “now” to idle time.

If you do not focus on the now you will get bored because the now may falsely appear meaningless to you compared to what lies ahead. When you will be truly in the now and focused you will not feel boredom. Just observing yourself and the world will be enough to keep you happy.

Even individuals which seem to have clear goals in life can get bored. Lack of faith and fear of taking action and achieving (you can be fearful of both failing and achieving your goals) can lead to someone to look for excuses to  block and postpone their progress. This inevitably will lead to boredom. You may be clear on all of actions to take but you find excuses not to do them just yet. To pull-out from the fulfilling activities that can be done now means that you are left with mundane activities; acts of instant gratification that when repeated become boring or lead to inactivity. 

So what is the right attitude to minimise boredom?

Make good use of moments of inactivity to know yourself:
If your boredom stems from not knowing what to do, use that time to know yourself and your thought patterns. When stuck waiting for your delayed flight try to observe yourself and meditate.

Stay focused on your goals:
When you are connected to your goals you can use all moments of inactivity as opportunities to take actions towards achieving your goals. Instead of mindlessly looking at social media posts while waiting in a queue research something that will contribute towards your goals.

Be patient and lose anxiety:
If you are inpatient and anxious to achieve something you may experience all activities not contributing to your objectives as mundane and meaningless and as a consequence you may feel boredom. For example, if you are looking for a job and spending time worrying about it rather than taking action you will experience boredom and guilt when you do some activity with a friend or spend time just chatting with your relatives. You will become anxious to return to job search activities and thus you will be counting time to go by and experience boredom. 

See the onset of boredom as a sign:
If you are bored see it as a positive sign that you need to change something in life. If you are bored of your job or your surroundings then its a wake up call to make a decisive change.

Do not procrastinate:
If you do not procrastinate you stay active by executing all the tasks you have set to do. If you procrastinate you create slack time which is often used on mindless tasks (i.e. playing aimlessly with your smartphone).

Do not seek instant gratification all the time:
Instant gratification comes with activities such as: looking at people´s profiles on social media, consuming superficial news, having a snack when you don´t need it, online shopping, video games, movies etc. They provide instant gratification and are attractive because they are things that we have easy access to and are in abundance (do not require effort on our side). The downside to these activities is that each time we repeat them we fell less satisfaction. If we insist in dominating our time with such things we will eventually feel boredom, frustration and guilt for not being able to direct our creative powers to what would really make us happy. 

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