Boredom

It turns out that with Summer here and the hot sun, the dangers of boredom is a very real threat. What is it about boredom that makes someone want to gnash their teeth and smash their head up and down? This feeling comes naturally when there is nothing particularly interesting to do, or when there is no will to get up and do them.

One trait of boredom is that the person is very aware of their own boredom, making the whole situation worse. For instance it’s one thing to lay on the couch all day, but it’s another to lay there and constantly complain how boring it is. It’s almost as if that constant reminder that you’re bored just perpetuates it. So the obvious solution here would be to get up and do anything, really anything to get your mind off the nothing. In fact that’s what many people suggest, citing how beautiful of a day it is or how many things there are to do around. The likelihood of any of those curing your boredom may vary, depending on their excitement and personal interest it has.

But perhaps boredom may actually be somewhat beneficial. It plays a very odd role in our day to day lives, from being minimal some days or devoting an entire day to boredom on other occasions. For instance boredom can cause someone to be ‘begrudgingly productive’ by doing tasks just avoid the boredom, and this in many ways is the only way I personally function. For others it causes them to lash out and seek some sort of excitement, many times without an end. In his book “The Conquest of Happiness” the mathematician Bertrand Russell devotes an entire chapter to the relationship of boredom and excitement, writing that:

The desire for excitement is very deep-seated in human beings, especially in males. I suppose that in the hunting stage it was more easily gratified than it has been since. The chase was exciting, war was exciting, courtship was exciting. A savage will manage to commit adultery with a woman while her husband is asleep beside her, knowing that it is instant death if the husband wakes. This situation, I imagine, is not boring.

In this attempt at being witty a good point arises, mainly that our domesticated and increasingly restrained way of life doesn’t leave as many chances for a base excitement. I’m not saying that we should try to imitate a hunter-gatherer type lifestyle, but it’s important to consider how the average human day has evolved over time. So that for the majority of human history, much more time was devoted in a single day to working, getting food, taking care of a family, ect. That’s not to say boredom always springs out of unused time, because often times we find great excitement in being completely unproductive. But perhaps our ancestors weren’t as bored as we are.

But regardless, this is mostly just speculation. I doubt that anytime soon we’re going to see a comprehensive scientific survey of boredom, and in many ways we don’t need it. Anyways I’ll keep these thoughts short so it’s not so dull, and as many probably guessed, these thoughts are a product of being ‘begrudgingly productive’.

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11 thoughts on “Boredom

  1. Hmm…I disagree slightly on the last bit. Just slightly. Scientific study on boredom in relation to creativity is something I think we’ll see because creativity all the rage now. But a study on boredom for boredom’s sake (if such a thing is ever considered), I agree we might not see.

    Lol, and hopefully this begrudging task incites excitement by its end.

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  2. Is your boredom the kind where your mind is awhir, so much that you can’t just sleep through the boredom? Mine is like that, with mind running on all cylinders but body restless, just can’t decide what to do first. I usually get up and clean house, thereby intensifying the suffering, but with something to show for it when I’m done. Also, doing mindless physical things frees my mind to roam. If I’m really bored, I clean the bathrooms.

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  3. I was filled with boredom after I had finished babysitting my youngest grandchild. I felt kind of lost. I tried some new hobbies and found one I am excited about: woodcarving. It’s fun to watch videos to learn different techniques. It’s fun to choose a project and work on it. I have social phobia and have tried volunteering. It is a great way to spend your time doing something really worthwhile. But the social phobia won and I stay home most of the time carving wood and looking after my mother. I’m not bored any longer.

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  4. I’ve never encountered boredom as there’s so much to do here… but may I suggest to anyone suffering from boredom to take a lesson from ISIS. Now those guys know how to overcome boredom. Excitement, screaming, yelling, killing and getting blown up. Does it get any better? Maybe they need to do a reality show where bored Westerners join ISIS to put meaning in their miserable, pointless lives, huh? Anyone who survives and returns without having been converted, wins.

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  5. To my mind there are several different types of boredom. One is the enforced boredom one encounters in military boot camp. Marching in formation, inspections, the whole nine yards of hurry up and wait. Another is that boredom one encounters when one has finished a job and is waiting for the next one to begin. A third is when one is working on an assembly line and having to work at the pace set by the union or lead man. Then there is the boredom of having to retire, either voluntary or not. One’s routine is broken and there is no immediate transfer of objects and goals. Then there’s the boredom that comes from entertainment where the performance do not equal one’s expectations. And for each type of boredom there is a sort of relief if one waits long enough.

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  6. Boredom is subjective to everyone I guess. It even varies from mood to mood. Sometimes I’m totally ready to get bored because life has been too exhausting from some time. The other times I feel like doing something just to end this boredom, maybe clean the almirah. So yeah. I recently watched Game of Thrones. The characters seem to live a exciting life. There is no time to get bored. I guess our ancestors were more prone to early deaths than us, considering the advancement in medical fields back then. Even the possibility of death in wars and raids in villages was high.
    Maybe that is why they never had time to get bored. Their life was one short period of adrenaline rush!
    I really liked this post!

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  7. I truly can not even remember the last time I felt bored…I have filled my life with taking care of myself and things around my home and artwork and love…the list goes on and on. The more interests you find and the busier you keep the better life is don’t you think? You are so right to say the constant reminder if you sit and just repeat how bored you are then you are really just making matters worse…takes some people longer to learn the power of positive thinking..maybe they should focus on how nice the couch feels and pay attention to their breathing or the birds outside, something! haha anything then feeling bored would turn into a relaxing afternoon how nice would that be?! 🙂 great post I really enjoy your blog! 🙂

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