Using Chronic Boredom as a Wake-Up Call

By FCS | June 26, 2019

“Only boring people get bored.”

Chances are you’ve heard this before if you haven’t said it yourself. And while some
people may be more prone to experience boredom, the reality is that it’s a universal
emotion. At face value, boredom seems like a simple experience you can easily
combat by engaging in stimulating activity. However, researchers are beginning to
think it’s a more complex emotion than that. As the American Psychological
Association puts it: “A bored person doesn’t just have nothing to do. He or she wants
to be stimulated, but is unable…to connect with his or her environment.”

When it comes to engaging our surroundings, it’s natural to experience lulls. In this
day and age, we’re exposed to constant and instantaneous stimulation around every
corner, so when we’re not being entertained for whatever reason, we can fall into a
state of boredom. As psychologist John Eastwood, PhD, concludes: Boredom is the
state of an “unengaged mind” and “the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity.”

With that in mind, it would seem easy to kick boredom to the curb simply by finding
an engaging activity to participate in. But what happens when the activities that
once fulfilled this desire no longer do the trick? What if your hobbies, work, usual
distractions, and time with your family and friends all lead to the same place—
unadulterated tedium? It might be easy to throw up your hands and resign yourself
to the belief that your life is simply boring; however, that’s probably not the case. And
if you’re suffering from feelings of chronic boredom, it could be a sign that
something more serious is keeping you from connecting to your environment.

Researchers like Eastwood and James Danckert, PhD, suggest there is a high
correlation between mental illnesses like depression or ADHD and chronic boredom,
but do note that they aren’t the same experience. That being said, if you’re suffering
from chronic boredom, it could be a symptom of a more serious condition that you
need to address.

If, on the other hand, you and your doctor have ruled out any mental illnesses, your
chronic boredom could be a sign that your current environment is not challenging
enough. We’ve seen this before: think back to those kids in school who didn’t apply
themselves in class because they were too advanced for the material; they were
bored because they weren’t being challenged

Likewise, you may have found yourself in a rut — in a routine where you know the ins
and outs of your day like the back of your hand, where you don’t learn anything new,
where you have the same conversations every day. You’re not being challenged,

If this is something you experience regularly, try using your boredom as reason to
switch things up: learn a new language or a new skill, find a new hobby, work
towards a promotion at work or aim for a career change altogether; you might even
want to push yourself outside of your comfort zone by planning a trip.

It may seem counterintuitive since boredom in itself is a lethargic experience; but if
you find that you’re bored no matter what you do, use the feeling as a catalyst to
jump into action whether that means speaking with your doctor or searching for a
new fulfilling hobby. Today is the day you can decide to do something different!

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