How to Fight Boredom: Five Strategies
Are you bored?
The world is eaten up by boredom.... You can’t see it all at once. It is like dust. You go about and never notice, you breathe it in; you eat and drink it. It is sifted so fine, it doesn’t even grit on your teeth. But stand still for an instant and there it is, coating your face and hands. To shake off this drizzle of ashes you must be forever on the go. And so people are always “on the go.”
GEORGES BERNANOS, The Diary of a Country Priest
Do you often feel tired and listless? Are you having trouble maintaining interest or focusing on things? Do you find your life to be tedious and lacking stimulation? Are you frequently tired, or perhaps you are restless and irritable? These are symptoms of boredom. Before you make an appointment with your doctor to find out why you’re always tired and sluggish, ask yourself this question: “Am I bored?”
If you are bored, you’re certainly not alone. Everyone experiences boredom at one time or another. It has been suggested that more than half the United States work force is bored at or with their jobs. A study of high school students indicated that over 85% were bored with school and homework. Many believe the term “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce is a fancy term for boredom. Whatever the causes, it seems no aspect of our lives is spared from the effects of ennui.
Why do people get bored? There is no single answer to this question. Some believe we have a physical as well as a psychological need for interaction with others, and boredom results when this need is not met. Many are convinced the routines that life imposes on us lack sufficient variety and stimulation to maintain our interest, especially if the patterns remain unchanged for months or years. Some simply feel their activities lack meaning. It is difficult to focus on something pointless. There are as myriad causes for boredom, and the reasons we are bored might be different for each of us.
So, what can we do to combat it?
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Strategies for fighting boredom
It is not necessary to surrender to boredom, and there are ways to fight feeling lethargic and uninterested. Like similar problems, it is first necessary to recognize that boredom is an undesirable state and want to do something about it. If you refuse to accept being bored, you will find ways to combat it. Listed below are several recommendations to help combat boredom.
Disrupt your routines. The most unusual of routines is still a routine. If you are stuck in a rut, interrupt the patterns of your life and find new ways to accomplish things. Shower in the evening instead of the morning. Prepare something for dinner you’ve never tried before, write poetry, enroll in adult education classes, or read a book in a genre you’ve never before considered. The variety will not only invigorate you, it will make your normal activities seem less tedious.
Be curious. Curiosity defeats boredom every time. Explore the latest technologies or develop new hobbies. Create “bucket lists” of things you wish to do and take action; if you are interested in skydiving, jump out of that airplane. Actively listen to others and learn from everyone. The things you will discover from listening will amaze you, and offering another person your attention is a wonderful gift that will always be appreciated.
Be creative. This is the method I most frequently choose to combat boredom. When I am bored, I write or draw. Creating something that did not exist previously engages me on physical, intellectual and emotional levels—it is extremely satisfying. I find it easier to draw than write when boredom sets in, but when I become involved in a drawing or painting, I am immersed in what I am doing. There is no room for boredom in my life when I am active as a writer or artist.
Concentrate on others. It is difficult to feel bored when you are focusing on someone or something outside yourself. Helping others is an outstanding way to shift your attention away from yourself. Working with children, the sick or elderly can be interesting and fulfilling. Many people select jobs or careers that focus on helping others, such as teachers and firefighters. Sending a letter or email to a friend or helping a neighbor rake fallen leaves will add zest to your day and brighten someone else’s, as well.
Search for meaning. Finding purpose in our actions empowers us. Not even the most trivial of tasks will seem boring for long if we recognize their true importance. The search for meaning can be a difficult path that leads in many directions. Some find answers through connecting with family, with friends or with God. Others find purpose in selfless acts, devoting time to public service or charitable works. Embrace the meaning in your life, wherever it may be found.
It's a magical world
Boredom is endemic in our society. We plod through our days at work and mindlessly tend to chores at home. In what remains of our free time we sit in front of a television or computer and experience life vicariously. Why travel to France when we can tune in the Travel Channel or Google it? We don’t even need to wonder what’s for Sunday dinner—it must be beef today because chicken was last week.
It doesn’t have to be this way, however. After all, what we focus upon determines how we feel, and there is far too much to see and experience for anyone to go through life suffering from boredom! Take action now and awaken within yourself the zest for living that you deserve. Have fun—allow yourself to be crazy and unpredictable. Shift your attention from yourself and look for opportunities to give to others. Ask questions and search for meaningful answers. Show a child how to solve a problem or help an elderly man or woman with grocery bags. These experiences will demonstrate the joys and passions life offers to everyone every day. When you realize your passion and share it with others, boredom will be replaced by exaltation and you will be transformed.
Take care and be happy.
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