Boredom is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “The state of feeling disinterested in one’s surroundings, having nothing to do, or feeling that life is dull.” It can be an indicator of an underlying mental health disorder that is indicative of a consistently depressive mood or a loss of interest in activities. Are you bored?
Boredom can be much more serious than we realize based on its unseen natures! Boredom, believe it or not, is actually a stress state. Most people would be quick to write off boredom as a physiological depressive state in the same way that alcohol is a depressant, but it isn’t.
Boredom, although presented as a decrease in a person’s functioning speed and ability, actually presents an increase in brainpower through frustration, it is not to be confused with apathy. Boredom represents a willingness for the brain to be engaged in activities despite the frustration that ensues when nothing seems to satisfy this engagement!
What’s the Purpose of Boredom?
Boredom exists as a signal for change. It is an internal need for fulfilling actions or thoughts to occur to satisfy the brain’s engagement needs. This is important because it presents a clear need for stimulation for our brains, beyond what our consciousness can even present! I believe this occurs due to underlying beliefs and values that are devoid of attention and relevant action.
It becomes obvious to us when we consider the logistics of sitting in a lecture. A lecture on the fundamentals of accounting is likely to be boring to someone who doesn’t value accounting, but a lecture given by the same person in the same place on the importance of discovering the truths behind quantum mechanics might prove extremely interesting to that person! The only difference is in the subject matter that the brain may find curious, important, or valuable.
Our beliefs on what is important in life directly affect our ability to live comfortably within our environments. Our environment and the stimulation it holds is necessary for fulfilling ourselves and releasing us from a state of boredom. An environment in which you feel entirely bored often feels inescapable. This environment may feel like a trap or a prison. It is important to consider your values in any environment you choose to reside in.
For example, I used to work for a company that had its goals written on the wall. The ultimate goal for this company was to make money for their shareholders. Although I understand the nature of good business, I could not relate to that goal, and therefore, my actions felt forced, underwhelming, repetitive, and mindless. It felt like a prison to me. The stimulation I sought in finding something that was dutiful for more than the money involved helped me escape my boredom.
Boredom is a state in which self-limiting beliefs, doubt, and fear can creep into your life, affecting your decisions, actions, and happiness. Boredom is subjective to the individual, what makes you bored may not make me bored, life is beautiful in this way!
Diversity is everywhere. The secrets to a happy life come from escaping the mundane and boring in order to pursue a livelihood that stimulates you. This livelihood requires a willingness to change. Often times our habits reflect the environment we reside in, whether this environment is good or bad makes no difference to our subconscious mind, which only cares about our survival.
Ultimately the difference between your habits and your happiness is in fear. The fear of change is often what causes people grief. People are often afraid to change but are unhappy with living the same way that they have been! We are taught by society to live life safely, don’t take chances, fit in, and follow the group. Has there ever been someone worthy of praise who has done nothing extraordinary? Can you name anybody who has made a difference in the world who has not been subject to criticism?
What Does Boredom Tell Us About Ourselves?
Boredom, in this sense, is the yearning for freedom from the repression of our own subconscious debilitations.
We have created habits that do not fulfill us, and our brains find the lack of engagement with our activities disturbing! (Star Wars reference!) Take a look at the following graph, it represents the curve that is called an exponential plateau.
The exponential plateau is the resulting account of energy over time. In my book The Potential Dichotomy I use this curve to illustrate a point regarding our willingness to work. Ultimately, average people lie on the curve at the point in which the plateau provides just barely enough area to keep us from falling into the path of least resistance. The Path of least resistance (to us with the ability to reason) means having time and energy but not being able to consciously direct them in any area of our lives that we choose.
We have this power now, but most people don’t realize it. Most people decide to become a victim of their environment, and in doing so, give up the power they have to choose what their lives consist of! Don’t live this way. We all have the choice to fulfill ourselves. The extraordinary people always strive for the extra 1% in anything they believe is worth doing. Average people are exactly that, average.
Average people can choose to continue expending energy towards their goals! They can choose to be the best at anything they wish! It takes discipline and time to do so, most people don’t like giving up these things. Time is a very scarce resource to us, but I’d contend that anything worth doing, that is truly fulfilling, is worth all the time you give to it. That thing may be different for every person in the world. We each have values that contribute to the entirety of our perceptions of the world around us, and we never see the world in exactly the same way!
The groups of your experiences as they relate to your worldview are called references. It is these references that provide you with support to back up your beliefs but remember, references are usually based on your perceptions.
Bad perceptions can produce negative references that enforce limiting beliefs that can compound with what is called “Confirmation Bias”.
Confirmation Bias is defined by Oxford in the following way.
And it is defined by Wikipedia in this way.
Ultimately, confirmation bias is a method through which you interpret data to match your existing beliefs. What if your beliefs negatively influence you? You obviously wouldn’t want them to continue interpreting your life, would you?
Implementing positive beliefs and what is often called an “Abundance Mentality” is the best way you can alter your life. Your beneficial thoughts will seep into how you behave and create amazing changes in a short amount of time! Although your environment may take time to change, your thoughts and interpretations of the environment can change immediately due to your own ability to perceive them differently.
The magic is in the mind after all. A change in your mindset may be exactly what your brain ordered as a result of its boredom. Boredom is in the same emotional group as disgust by the way. What if you felt disgusted with your environment? You’d likely implement change very quickly. Boredom is tricky because it often hides its purpose. We rarely realize exactly why we are bored or why we cannot be stimulated by the environment we reside in now. Most people never even question it, thinking boredom is simply a byproduct of having nothing to do, rather than having nothing fulfilling to do.
That’s the key. Should you find something that is fulfilling to your curiosity, your energy, and you feel is beneficial to your time, you would never be bored. The question is, where can you find this thing? Where can you find your purpose? It doesn’t have to be as philosophical as it sounds. I define purpose like this…
Purpose: A fulfilling and personal call to action, in which your values are integral, and which does not negatively affect the fulfillment of anybody else.
Satisfy each of these requirements and you can have this whole “life” thing on a string! Here are the specific requirements as to what a purpose should be.
How To Fight Boredom
Boredom won’t exist when you align your lifestyle and habits with things that are:
1) Fulfilling to you.
2) Calls you to action.
3) In line with your values.
4) It doesn’t negatively affect others.
Satisfy these requirements and you are set! If you’d like to read more about cultivating the ability to test your resolve to your passion, read the article I wrote called the “Own-It” Principle.
This principle lays the logical foundation on which you can develop a scenario that provides insight into what you will give up to pursue your dreams. You must answer the question, what are you willing to give, before you can start to get? The truth is, we cannot get anything unless we give first. This is absolutely true. You cannot gain strength without exercising first. You must expend energy before you can capture it! Ultimately what we as a society need to develop is the ability to think introspectively. Doing so will benefit us all, non-discriminatorily.
To develop a habit of worrying about ourselves and our own happiness is to rid ourselves of the feeling of victimization and expectations. We use those negative feelings as crutches to hold our own identities together, and as justifications for why our lives aren’t the way we want it. We blame responsibilities, time, market conditions even, for our shortcomings.
The only true failure is to acknowledge that you have failed.
Otherwise, every other non-success is only an opportunity to try again, only with more potential than last time due to your increased knowledge! Giving up on your dreams because you are comfortable where you are is a lie. I argue that if you have not actualized your dream, you cannot be comfortable at all. You are likely stuck in unfulfilling circumstances, the likes of which I attempt to mitigate from the realities of people I help. I will never tell someone that they can’t do something! Because the question is not “if”, it’s “how”!