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Boredom and Iambored

Updated on May 27, 2011

iambored defined

There are two types of boredom really. Regular boredom and what I call "iambored." Boredom is the result of understimulation. Perhaps this is from a lecture on stuff you already know, or a work of fiction that doesn't get to the point. Boredom is a reaction to boring things. Iambored is something different all together. It happens when you can't think of anything to do that isn't boring. For boredom, treatment is easy: just find a way to pay attention to something else. iambored is more systemic. It comes from a block in your brain that either isn't used to coming up with new things to do or shoots ideas down so readily that you believe there is nothing to do, when in the times we live in there is always something to do.

I'm still wet. Watch me dry.
I'm still wet. Watch me dry.

Curing Iambored, part 1

I'm going to take a guess that if you're reading this hub, there's a good chance you suffer from a lot of boredom. Perhaps you have been crawling the internet, looking through terrible web pages in hope of filling time. Yet the wandering the inanity of the internet is rarely enough. You need to take the initiative. What you have to do is some brainstorming. This is an activity where you essentially stop judging ideas and start listing things to do off the top of your head. You might represent your ideas pictorally, creating a web of ideas. You might freewrite (start writing and don't stop, even if the only thing you can write is "I can't think of anything) or some other way of letting ideas come out. You might want to let randomness take you where you may, or you might start out with something like "The five coolest things ever". The purpose here is to prevent yourself from shooting down ideas before giving them consideration. Iambored cannot last forever if you have a list of things to do.

Curing Iambored part 2: discard inhibition

The result of brainstorming should be a list of things to do. It does not matter if some of the ideas are stupid. A black sharpie or a wastebasket should be all you need to eliminate them. Then there are things to do that looks like fun ideas, only you're afraid to do them. The next step in curing iambored is to be willing to do things even if you feel stupid doing them. Yes you loved drawing as a child until everyone told you that you sucked at it. Well guess what, in the privacy of your home that doesn't matter! (I'll get to social boredom later.) As long as you are alone, you don't need to feel stupid or ashamed about anything. In such situations the only judge here is you and you don't have to be hard on yourself unless you are a baby killer.

Social Boredom

So maybe my brainstorming and disinhibition haven't been working for you because your iambored state is not coming from you but is enforced by your social group. You have a great plan, but if you mention it everyone concludes you're an idiot and goes back to wallowing in their iambored, and you can't or won't leave the group.

The first thing I would suggest is a nice game of Morton's List. This is an exhaustive list of things to do, and players roll a fat 30-sided die (called Morton's boulder). People dice off for the position of tablemaster, who gets the last say in activities. After a quest is rolled, the group discusses how to accomplish it (or if they don't like the quest you reroll until you do). This book can get an entire group to do the most random things, justified by the book alone. Dodge ball games, forts constructed of dorm room furniture, and trespassing on construction sites (purely hypothetical you understand) have all resulted from my sessions with this book. For some reason unbeknownst to me, doing random things is easier when you have some outside source like a book--especially in a group, where no one can be made to look stupid.

My second suggestion is responsible alcohol use. This I make tentatively, because alcohol can so often become a crutch if not a poison. I must admit to never having had alcohol myself, being the sober chaperone/designated driver. In college I had many a night of quality, slightly drunken conversation. The brain by its very nature inhibits. It needs to so you can control your behavior. But in the inhibition you don't go after significant others, you hide thoughts from your family and friends, you keep creativity safely locked away. Is it any wonder alcohol, which lessens inhibitions, is so popular? I suspect iambored can easily result from being in a group of people who never take the initiative until they have a couple of drinks in their system.

Iambored, by Necessity: work.

Previous suggestions for curing iambored, whether personal or social, were based on situations in which you have free will, that what you were fighting against was a lack of initiative. Now I consider a more difficult topic: iambored that springs from work. By work I mean things that demand energy and attention whether you want them too or not. Doing tax returns is work, but then so is writing a book. The point is, the work is forcing you into an iambored situation.

Previously I mentioned boredom to be simple understimulation. Your work may be so far below your faculties that it becomes boring. This is a boring job, not a job that leads to iambored. Iambored comes from being unable to take initiative in living your life. A good example would be a job where your major duty is to submit proposals that your boss always shoots down. If by some odd chance your idea is accepted, the boss then takes credit and offers no reward. So you're stuck in the office doing work you know doesn't mean anything, and worse you can't leave the office. So what do you do?


I'll have your report in a few more minutes. I, uh, still have some lines to complete.
I'll have your report in a few more minutes. I, uh, still have some lines to complete.

Look like you're doing something. Yes you're in the middle of your vampire romance novel which you fantasize about being the next Twilight. But you're typing and hence look busy. If you're doing a job that is pointless, why not just pretend to work and get paid for it? This might seem like a scam, but if you're not doing anything else, why not enjoy the scam? Unless you want to tell people "being miserable" is your job. Still, perhaps you're a bit too conscientious or are dealing with guilt and shame issues, or your work is not in an environment where you can't fake it without someone finding out. If iambored is forced by necessity, (not caused by self-imposed limits), you might just have to deal with it. My two suggestions are to make sure you get paid and gambling during work.

I suggest gambling because it is a miracle worker in making insignificant things seem important. Why should I worry so that the card on the top of a deck is a face card? Well because it wins me a game according to the completely arbitrary rules of black jack, on which one may gamble. The money attached to the gambling and the prospect of winning liven things up. As with alcohol (and Morton's LIst for that matter) don't be stupid about it. Don't bet more than you can afford to lose. Don't lose yourself in your new excitement.

Iambored: In summary

The end of iambored starts when one takes faith in the idea that the world is an interesting place and has things worth doing. It continues when one figures the limitations that makes living uninteresting. Its fate is sealed when the victim goes out and does something, anything, so long as it serves some purpose (other than to relieve boredom). This is not always easy or straightforward, as the mechanisms that bring forth iambored may be heavily entrenched. But unless they are forced from the outside by compulsion, they can be bypassed with any tool that gets your mind out of that proverbial rut.

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