Man, being bored and miserable with life is the P.I.T.S. Blah, it’s awful. See if this sounds familiar:
Every day I would drag my bored ass along a 30-minute commute (oh, yours is an hour? You win) to get to a bored looking grey building where I’d swipe my keycard with a picture of me looking bored on it after which I would would walk up some boring steps to reach my boring grey cube where I’d sit there for eight hours a day doing seriously boring work.
Then, I’d get back into my car and take the boring 30-minute commute back to my house. I’d be so catatonic from my boredom that I would liven up my existence by eating way too much food, drinking way too much [very not boring] whiskey, going to the gym to engage in bombastically boring workouts to counteract the [utterly pleasurable] food and drink I just ingested. Then I’d entertain myself with endless Netflix, Facebook, Google article searches, and whatever else I could find to distract me from how BORED I was with my life.
OMG are you bored yet? Christ, so am I.
I would even do online dating to find someone who would rescue me from my boredom, and guess what?
All I attracted were people just like me, living the same boring life.
Does this sound like your life? Ack! I get it. We need some excitement, S.T.A.T.
So what can you do? What are your options? Is there any hope for ending the mind-melting suffering caused by chronic boredom??
Yes. Following is a list of actions you can take — in order — that will make oncoming boredom turn into a welcome pleasure.
1. Stop whining about being bored. It’s boring.
Yeah, you have to do this first.
You’ve got to quit bitching about being bored because all it does is keep you in the place of being bored. Grumbling about boredom reinforces the boredom state, because you’re spending all of your time and energy focusing on that painful feeling.
It’s a vicious cycle. None of that helps to relieve the discomfort.
Not to mention, oh GAAAAD, it’s so BORING! No one wants to hear it.
2. Wait. Could being bored — gasp! — be a good thing?
So now that you’re not allowed to relieve the pain of boredom by griping about it, you’ve got to find another avenue to find respite.
Unfortunately, if you want to avoid repeating this agonizing cycle, you can’t keep seeking comfort by eating Fritos, drinking Crown, smoking pot, watching Six Million Dollar Man, or any number of mindless activities. None of these things actually do anything to improve a boring life, they just delay the next onslaught of tedious lassitude. So we must do something else.
Consider for a minute that there might just be a positive aspect of being bored, and you don’t have to dread it. I know, I know, it’s agony in the moment. But there is another way to look at it.
Just like any other kind of pain, boredom is a signal of something wrong. Distracting yourself from boredom is like taking DayQuil to mask a cold instead of resting to allow yourself to get well naturally. It doesn’t work; it just prolongs or completely delays the healing process.
So what does it mean when you’re bored, and how is it good?
It means your brain is ready for something new, and it wants to create it.
Not have something new handed to it, or have something new come to it easily.
The brain wants to CREATE. It wants a CHALLENGE.
The beautiful thing about boredom is that your brain is telling you there is a blank canvas in there (or giant whistling vacuum, if you will), and therefore it is completely open and wanting to CREATE.
And that’s exciting.
Boredom is an excellent catalyst for creativity! And creation! And CHANGE.
And God knows we all want change these days.
Boredom is good.
3. Pick apart your life (or maybe just your day) and really notice how you spend your time.
So much of our lives are spent in routine, we don’t even notice what we’re doing half [or three-quarters or 100%] of the time. We’re moving through our days like zombies on autopilot and acting all shocked that we’re bored. No wonder zombie shows have been so trendy lately! We’re seeing ourselves on screen and are feeling way popular and cool.
Take a day and document what you do that day. Kind of like how dieters journal about their food intake to figure out where they’re going off track, just take one day and write down how you spend your time. Maybe every half hour, write down what you did in the last 30 minutes.
I know, you don’t want to see that you spent the last 30 minutes [two hours] reading about fart relief medicine online. I know. But document it anyway.
Set a timer if you have to.
And no judgment (not yet, anyway) about what you are doing. If you watched tv eight out of the last ten hours, that’s okay. It’s all about becoming aware of where your time goes, it’s not about smashing yourself into smithereens because you spent your day engrossed in Harlequin romances (Lori Foster, whoooooo!!) instead of teaching underprivileged youth how to read.
Don’t lie about it though, no one is going to see it but you.
Record what you did at least two days out of the week — one typical “work/school” day, and one typical “weekend” day. Our “on” days are so different than our “off” days that it’s helpful to become aware of where the time goes on each type of day.
Document your time at least twice a week (more if it’s helpful and doesn’t feel too much like work) for a month or more. That way you can see some patterns emerging over time.
You’ll probably be surprised at how much time you spend doing dumb things. Or with dumb people doing dumb things.
Or maybe you already know.
(You can judge now. You’re done with the documentation portion of the program.)
But it’s good to be aware. Because as our favorite tv shrink always says,
“YOU CANNOT CHANGE WHAT YOU DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE.”
Argh. But true.
4. Find a way to bring back into your life what excites you.
So why did we do all that documentation? Well, the whole point is to find out what you’re doing that is causing all that boredom. And then, use that information to CHANGE YOUR LIFE! WHEEEEEEE!
I know. I’m just trying to liven things up around here.
So. Are you doing the same thing every day? Are you hanging out with the same people every day? Are you doing the same tasks every day at your job? Are you doing the same thing every evening after work is over? Are you doing the same activities on the weekends?
Sounds pretty boring. No wonder you’re bored.
Now ask yourself this: what you would enjoy doing that would not be boring?
And before you say “well missy, I think skydiving would be really exciting but it’s super expensive and I can’t do that as much as I would like so screw you smartypants”,
I’d ask you why you would think skydiving would be exciting.
And then I’d challenge you to find a way either for you to move things around in your life so you could skydive every once in a while (do you really need to spend $125 at the Lazy Dog every Friday?), or I would explore further to find out if there are other activities that you could be doing that provide the same kind of excitement as skydiving, but that aren’t so expensive.
(And for the record, skydiving isn’t expensive once you get past the first beginner level. I have a friend who has been skydiving for years and she only pays $25 a jump. Probably less than your average beer tab, bro).
The point is to find ways to get the feeling of excitement you are looking for — the means isn’t necessarily the only way to the end. You might get the same feeling of excitement from riding a skateboard down the highway, and that is super cheap.
The argument is, boredom can inspire creativity. Anyone seen Jackass? Those were some bored ass bros, and they found a way to parlay their boredom into a montage of TV shows and movies that grossed millions — just from finding creative ways to turn everyday ridiculous activities into inspired masterpieces for us to roar and pee our pants at. I’d say that’s pretty genius.
So next time you’re complaining to yourself that you’re bored and miserable, stop for a minute and ask yourself what you would like to be doing that would be amazing. Not something distracting like tv or video games [or Girl Scout cookies], but engaging. Source the feeling you’re desiring rather than the task itself. Chances are, there are many ways to create that feeling of interest and excitement, from any number of potential activities.
Use your imagination to come up with a plethora of alternatives that are viable for you to elevate your brain activity and sense of purpose and meaning.
5. Commit to seeing things differently when boredom sneaks up on you.
This is an important step because it will change everything.
Everything, I tell you!
It’s the step that creates a new habit of action when the signal of boredom dings. Instead of feeling despondent when boredom comes along, thinking that this is all there is to life and all there ever will be and then picking up the bong to fry your sorrow, you’ll recognize it for what it is and get excited about what is to come.
You are in control. You will consciously decide that it’s time to get the brain cranking on something interesting, engaging, new, and creative. Yeah!
That’s not to say you’ll never default to watching Real Housewives again, but maybe not 28 episodes in a row. 🙂
Hey boredom, come on in! Tell me something I don’t know.
If there is one thing to take away from this post, it’s to welcome boredom! Instead of looking at boredom like a horribly uncomfortable feeling that must be alleviated at any price (15 donuts washed down with five hours of Below Deck, anyone?), view it as the signal that it is, that your brain is ready for some new creating. Get excited about boredom! It means your mind is ready for something new, and you’re going to create it. Who knows where that could lead!
So next time you feel boredom coming on, try to resist the urge to go to the refrigerator, or turn on the tv, or mindlessly surf the internet (except for damnyouautocorrect.com. That site is faint-makingly hilarious).
Instead, consider sitting with yourself for a minute and listening to your soul and what stimulation it’s missing. Maybe you’re really craving learning a new skill. Or maybe gaining some interesting new knowledge from reading a book is what your brain is really desiring?
What’s that you say?
In order to find out what your soul is telling you, you have to open up the space to hear it. If you give yourself a chance to be quiet and listen, it’s astonishing what you will hear (I hear my mom telling me to put down the pizza, dammit, and get to writing).
Who knows? You might come up with a new business or blog idea, or maybe you’ll finally discover the answer to that irritating problem you’ve been having with your spouse.
Maybe you’ll come up with a great costume idea for your child’s school play, or a new way to decorate cookies for the church bake sale.
But when your mind is constantly occupied, even by the most insipid and unworthy of activities, there is no room for creation. No room for epiphanies or breakthroughs.
This is the blessing of boredom. It’s the perfect cue to your brain that something awesome is forming; you just have to allow the room to let it in.
Welcome boredom! Whoo hoo!