Did you ever meet people so boring they put your feet to sleep? They complain about living, “I have to breathe all day, even when I sleep. It’s so boring!” One guy remarked that he fell asleep while reading a dull book and had a dream that he was still reading it; finally, he woke up from sheer boredom. How about you? Do you ever get bored? Here’s how you can tell. You are bored if you’re going to tune in to the Biography Channel and watch the life of Tommy Fletcher, the man who discovered dandruff. Another sign that you’re bored is when the only reason you go to the park is to watch scum slowly form on the surface of a stagnant pond.
Boredom may be a boring subject, but it’s an important one because it is the source of much misery. You see, it is accompanied by, or leads to, feelings of loneliness, emptiness, helplessness, inadequacy, sadness, despair, and even depression. When allowed to spin out of control, there can be serious repercussions. For example, some may try to escape boredom by turning to drugs, sex, and alcohol. Yet, all they succeed in doing is compounding their problem. Faced with what they believe to be boring and pointless lives, some young people drop out of school and engage in violence, crime, and sexual promiscuity. Addictions trap them in a world of darkness from which they cannot escape. So, you see, something as innocent as boredom can have severe consequences if it is not dropped quickly.
When someone is bored, they don’t like what they’re doing, but don’t know what else to do. The missing element is a good idea. So, when you feel the pang of boredom, it is a signal to stop and THINK. If you don’t like what you’re doing, shouldn’t you STOP doing it? Boredom is a state of passivity and its opposite is a state of activity and creativity. For instance, let’s return to the earlier example of pond scum. Just sitting there, watching it is boring, but what if I decide to write a poem about it? Perhaps I could call it, “Ode to Shapeless, Stagnant, Pond Scum.” Once I start, the boredom will dissipate. Writing a poem about pond scum may be challenging, but that is just what is needed. It is our nature to rise to and thrive on challenges. What is boredom, but the absence of a challenge?
If we are not bored when we are busy, we should be happy when we are bored. Why? Because boredom tells us that we have free time. And free time is a valuable resource that can be used to enrich our lives. It’s time that can be devoted to friends, family, or personal development. When we’re at work or in school, there are only a few ways to spend our time, but during our time off, we are free to use it as we see fit. We can use it to create meaning in our lives and experience greater fulfilment. But only if we take the time to stop and think before we act.
One source of boredom may be the endless pursuit of pleasure, for pleasure cannot be endless. Therefore, in seeking it, we are bound to be disappointed. Life is not about a quest for pleasure, but about a reason for living. Our reason for living is a personal one, and one that we create. If we create it and live up to it during our free time, we won’t experience boredom.
Boredom also arises when we are preoccupied with ourselves. How can we be bored when we live in such an incredible universe? Or such a wonderful country? Whenever we direct our attention outward, we will find much to be excited about, learn about, and get involved with. If we insist on consuming our time with thoughts of ourselves, we may come to realize, as Dylan Thomas (1914 ~ 1953) did that “Somebody’s boring me… I think it’s me.” Boredom is essentially being bored with yourself. So, if you use your spare time to make yourself interesting, you’ll never be bored to be with yourself!
Just in case you have occasional bouts of boredom, here is a list of additional things you can do.
- If you’re bored, do something useful. Such as, creating a list of things to do when you’re bored. Keep adding to the list; keep it handy, and refer to it whenever you’re bored.
- When you were a child, mommy placed you in a room full of toys. But now, you are an adult, so stop wanting to have everything done for you. Accept responsibility for your own happiness.
- Awaken the curiosity of your childhood. There are whole new worlds to discover.
- Boredom is not caused by a lack of things to do as much as an unwillingness to do anything. So, develop your will by taking action. It’s okay to feel lazy and bored, but choose an activity and do it anyway.
- Boredom is also a cry for change. But not superficial or meaningless changes, such as switching from one bar to another. Rather, it calls for substantial change, such as replacing your nightlife with night school.
- Refresh your body by taking a walk or exercising. Boredom can simply be a sign that your body needs reinvigorating.
- Visit the park, for besides pond scum, you’ll find gentle breezes, melodious birds, chirping insects, the scent of moist trees, the fragrance of blossoms, glittering streams, scurrying squirrels, the sound of children at play, park benches, hot dogs, elderly people leisurely taking a walk, and much more.
- Set goals. They give you something to plan, tasks to do, and the pleasure of looking forward to achieving them. Those who lead goal oriented lives are never bored and experience exhilaration with each accomplishment.
- If you’re retired, get a part-time job or become a volunteer. Don’t sit around the house if you can be out, contributing to life.
- Find out what you like to do, and do it!
- Explore the arts. Study poetry, water color painting, how to play the piano. Join a choir.
- Get a pet; visit the library; attend an outdoor concert, carnival, or festival.
- Study pottery, line dancing, or public speaking.
- Learn how to play chess, bridge, or Mah-Jongg.
- Maintain an active life. If it’s rest you’re looking for, you’ll find boredom. If it’s activity you’re looking for, you’ll find rest.
- Take a cooking or computer course.
- Read books about the universe, wild life, nature, or photography.
Now that I started the ball rolling, you can easily make your own list. Did you reach the end of this article without falling asleep? Congratulations, you have discovered the secret of avoiding boredom, which is meaningful activity.