If there’s one thing modern society abhors, it is boredom. Many people now compulsively keep an entertainment machine literally within arm’s reach 24/7.
People will walk towards the bathroom, then double back for their phone. Or they’ll start the car for a quick drive to get some food, and then stand back up and go inside, unlocking the door again, riling up the dogs, all of it just to grab the phone.
Clearly boredom is not supposed to be on the menu. Whatever the future holds, it won’t be boredom.
In some sense people are guzzling anxiety to displace boredom — where boredom threatens to take root, we shake up the dust to hide it away. This is TV surfing, web browsing, mindless gaming.
Why Do We Get Bored?
Boredom may serve as a tool to help us know our true interests and desires.
Those who measure higher in self-awareness are less likely to experience boredom, as Michael Stevens explains:
When we don’t know what we really want, it might make sense to get bored often. Have you ever had the experience of being excited for something random, like fast food or a TV show, only to find yourself utterly unsatisfied when you actually do the thing?
At its worst, the inability to know our desires can lead to depression - “why don’t I enjoy anything?” - and in milder forms, it can have us “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” without knowing why.
Robb Rutledge is one of the leading researchers on this — his study in 2014 showed that happiness is mainly what happens when results exceed expectations. Low expectations may be more powerful than high results if your goal is happiness.
He also came up with this formula for happiness. Problem solved.
IMG: Happiness Formula
Boredom is My Friend
I view boredom as a good thing as long as it is managed properly.
When one becomes bored, it’s a sign that they do not know what the next thing to do is. The best way to respond to boredom is to slow down. We need to submit to the boredom for 20 minutes while our subconscious mind processes information. As soon as the “loading” is complete, we know what to do.
It’s amazing how sometimes only 5 minutes will pass between the initial feeling of “crushing boredom” and the epiphany of what you should do next.
Sadly most people react to boredom the same way they react to being burned by a hot stove. They yank themselves away as fast as possible, and they fear coming into contact again. This is a terrible way to waste the useful gift of boredom.
Boredom is my friend. It may become yours as well if you ask it nicely.