Boredom is a state of mind that occurs when we are no longer able to entertain ourselves or experience any level of enjoyment in our daily activities. For example, often you will hear people complain that there is nothing worth watching on television, when in fact, there are actually many programs worth watching. It’s just that your brain has decided that none of them are worth your time. Or perhaps you experience this with chores around the home, or incomplete paperwork at your place of employment. Regardless of how your experiences with boredom have manifested, the truth of the matter is that boredom is a good thing. So how does one overcome boredom?
Boredom and depression share a similar trait.
As a psychotherapist, the number one group of people who often report feeling bored are depressed clients. This may not surprise a number of people, given that the primary and popular symptom of depression is poor motivation. I am not writing that boredom is exclusive to depressed persons; however, I am drawing a similarity between boredom and depression.
You see, biological factors aside, a primary cause of depression with any person is the reluctance to accept expectations not being met in life. When people with depression experience significant difficulty with things not going their way, they become angry and take it out on themselves, primarily through depressed mood and poor motivation.
Boredom occurs on the same paradigm in which there is a marked difficulty in being able to accept life on life’s terms. Take for example again, the scenario with the television. When the complaint that “there’s nothing on TV,” is made, it simply isn’t true, because there are plenty of programs to watch and enjoy on television.
Boredom warns us that we are not actively living our lives.
The reality is that our brain’s are created mostly to respond to diverse experiences and there is a limited amount of idling that our minds can tolerate. This is what makes boredom a good thing; specifically, boredom is good because it is our mind’s way of alerting us that we are not actively living our lives, as evidenced by the brain’s yearning for a fair degree of adversity, diversity and production.
For instance, if all you do is go to work, perform the same duties, come home to perform the same chores, and have the same type of interactions with people in your lives, with little to no variations, then you find yourself having very little to look forward to the next day. Why would you? Afterall, your lifestyle pretty much guarantees that your days are going to be roughly the same.
What makes our experiences with boredom difficult, is our interpretation of being bored. So while our brains are telling us that we need to start doing something, some of us tell ourselves that we are not being entertained enough, or that the world around us has little to offer us. The truth is that the world around us has a lot of offer. If you find yourself bored, it’s most likely because you don’t have a well-defined vision of your life, and subsequently, you lack a sense of meaning and purpose.
Conquer boredom by pursuing your goals and dreams.
The most effective way of addressing boredom is to write down what your dreams or goals are, keeping in mind that the goal is to aim as high as you want. So let’s say, for example, that you want to go back to school to earn a teaching degree to teach math. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself.
What are the requirements for becoming a math teacher?
What specific demographic of students, do you plan teaching math to?
What school will you attend to earn your teaching degree?
How much will it cost you?
Where will you get the money for tuition?
What are the odds of you getting hired to teach math after you graduate?
Are there other alternative routes to teaching math?
As you can see with these types of questions, you will quickly realize that you have your work cut out for you. The key to discovering the cause of your boredom and overcoming it lies in your thoughts and feelings to these types of question. Ultimately, people who are able to identify their desired goals, but are resistant in following through on the questions, are unwilling to make sacrifices, specifically sacrifices of personal time. Then again, it you find your days bleeding into one another with little distinction, what do you have to lose?
Ultimately, the path towards making that paradigm shift towards a more fulfilling life and overcoming boredom will involve a trade-off.