Readers of all ages write to me regarding boredom. Some are bored with their routines, others with their partners, and many are bored with life altogether.
Notably, parents ask me what they should tell their children when they say they don’t want to study, citing the reason as being bored. I classify boredom into two categories: lazy boredom and active boredom. In either case, your mind wants you to move away from the object of boredom. You lose the sharpness of the mind when you experience boredom; it makes you either restless or lazy.
I have seen hundreds who start fidgeting with things, and many start wobbling their legs when they are bored. The feeling is subtle but significant in this case. You don’t shake your legs when watching a thriller or reading a good book, for example.
Often, when boredom is due to a lack of interest, it makes one sleepy. The mind starts to slow down as if preparing itself for sleep. This is lazy boredom. This is what happens before you fall asleep; your mind begins to slow down. A mind racing with thoughts, one swollen with emotions, needs to calm down.
However, when you feel bored because your environment fails to stimulate you, you become fidgety. It makes you restless. This is active boredom. It means your mind is active and wants to be engaged elsewhere, where there is something new for it, some stimulation of a different type.
Personally, I believe there is nothing wrong with feeling bored. If this feeling were so baneful, we would still be living in the stone age. Somewhere in our evolution and growth, boredom played a significant role. Some of the greatest inventions did not just take place out of necessity, but out of boredom, simply because someone was bored and wanted something new.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then boredom may well be the father, because boredom triggers the need for innovation. If you feel sleepy when you are bored, it means you need to stimulate your mind and find something that may interest you. However, if what you are doing is important and you cannot afford to get bored, take it easy. Revisit your subject after refreshing your mind. Just like in meditation, everyone has a limit. Some start to feel bored within the first ten minutes; many can go on for thirty minutes and so forth. With conscious effort, you can raise your limit of boredom!
Boredom means you are not just an animal without intellect. It means you have been blessed with intelligence and thinking power.
It holds particularly true for those who feel restless when bored. They are intertwined: restlessness feeds boredom, and boredom fuels restlessness. There are two interesting things you should know about feeling bored. Let me elaborate with an anecdote:
Committed to the practice of meditation but not getting anywhere, a disciple approached his master and said, “I’m feeling bored and restless. I’m unable to meditate.”
“Don’t worry, don’t react. It’ll pass. Don’t lose your resolve. Stay the course,” the guru said.
A few weeks later, he sounded really happy and said, “Oh, I’m having the greatest time of my life. Meditation has never been so good.”
“Don’t get excited; don’t react. It’ll pass too. Don’t lose sight of your path. Stay the course,” replied the guru.
Clearly, this is true not just for meditation but for many other aspects too. People get bored in relationships, in jobs, in their lives, and so on. The first thing you need to know about boredom is that it is cyclical, and it is temporary.
When you get bored with something, you cannot escape. Practice acceptance and alertness with resolve, and you will get over the feeling in no time. There is little or no room for boredom where there is attachment and devotion. A mother rarely gets bored of her child, but a restless child can quickly get bored of his mother. Eventually, it boils down to your priorities.
The second thing you should know about boredom: you choose to be bored. Yes, this is true. When you let your restless mind take you over, you feel fidgety and bored. And when your lazy mind overpowers you, you feel sleepy and bored. It’s as simple as that.
If you start regarding boredom as a good thing, your mind will stop retaliating. It requires awareness for you to realize when you are getting bored; you become your own witness. Acceptance and alertness, when bored, helps you to overcome lazy boredom. Awareness and relaxation helps you to overcome the restless feeling.
It is okay to be bored sometimes. Accept it. Be at ease with it. If you want to overcome it, do so with awareness. In my months of solitude in the Himalayas, when there was no electricity, no one else to talk to, no piles of books, no music, not even birds, only snow and white snow around, I did not allow myself to fall prey to boredom. I simply meditated.
When tired of meditation, I practiced contemplation, and when tired of contemplation, I did meditation. If you are committed to discipline, boredom can’t touch you because boredom is mostly an excuse and rarely the reason. A bored mind is the devil’s workshop.
In the words of the phenomenal British thinker, Bertrand Russell:
“Boredom is a vital problem for the moralist since half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.”
Once you get past the wave of boredom, you will find yourself in an ocean of bliss. Your intellect becomes razor sharp and rises to the surface of your very being, then it grants you insight.
Boredom: the desire for desires – Leo Tolstoy
What is boredom with life and why is it important?
In today’s digital age, it is at the forefront of existence more than it has ever been. At present moment, 30-second videos, 15-second snippets, audio, visual, print, social media, digital books, and audiobooks: never has humanity been presented with so many options for entertainment ensuring never a dull moment.
In fact, these options may as well have a blaring headline that screams, “Things To Do When Bored!”
And hence, never has our attention been more fractured, and our mental health is at risk. Mental health professionals are seeing people with chronic boredom, mental illness, depression, and major depressive disorder more like never before.
How do we deal with the craving for instant gratification or external stimulation or endless hours of scrolling? Where do we turn, what do we watch, and which option do we pick?
Boredom is an emotional state characterized by a lack of interest in the current activity. It may stem from a lack of stimulation or an inability to engage in whatever task is being carried out. Boredom is generally caused by a lack of mental stimulation.
Boredom can lead to depression and stress, which can result in physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems. It is not just an emotion but also a physical state that can be cured by doing something else or something more interesting or exciting.
There are many possible causes of boredom:
- A lack of mental stimulation
- A lack of physical activity
- An unachievable goal that feels impossible to achieve
- Unclear goals and expectations
- Boredom is a natural part of life, but it’s not something that should be ignored.
- Boredom is important and is not a bad thing because it helps us prioritize our goals and determine what we want out of life.
- Being bored is an opportunity to reflect on our lives and think about what we want to do next.
When we’re bored, we get bored with things that don’t interest us anymore — like our job or a relationship that isn’t fulfilling — and seek out new experiences, romantic relationships, fun things, and new friends. Experiences that excite us more than the old ones did before they grew dull.
Boredom also helps us learn about ourselves by providing a chance for self-reflection and introspection about what makes us happy and fulfilled in our own lives as well as what doesn’t work for us anymore (or ever did).
Here’s how to reset your mood in 5 minutes with this simple exercise.
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Is life supposed to be boring? How do I find meaning and happiness in my life?
Every single happy person, and every successful person, without fail, has a sense of individual purpose, almost a sort of passion. Often, it’s not even a grand plan or a gigantic goal; it is merely something they love doing.
Whether that’s feeding the poor or following the stars, ice hockey or scuba diving, coding software or writing books, dancing or doodling, soccer or stitching, it doesn’t matter. They are passionate about something.
Their passion in life keeps them busy and keeps them engaged. This passion and their aspirations make them feel wanted; make them feel worthwhile, meaningful and fulfilled.
It leads me to an essential point about human nature: Everyone wants to look forward to something. When one has nothing to look forward to, life feels dull, worthless, and boring.
Discovering Your Purpose in Life can happen in any manner. Perhaps, being driven by boredom is one such manner.
How do I persist with my work, even when it feels boring?
Scientists and researchers, in scores of studies, have long proven beyond any doubt that practice alone makes champions in any field. Whether it’s music, chess, meditation, writing, painting, programming, anything, if you put in an effort of 10,000 hours, you will become an expert in that field.
Here are some things to remember:
- If you invest three hours on a daily basis for ten years, you will reach the pinnacle of that skill.
- The first 1,000 hours are going to be hard and even boring at times, but if you persist you’ll unlock your genius and expose a creative side of you that will surprise you and everyone around you.
- As you progress, eventually, you’ll become one with the object of learning and that leads to an everlasting state of bliss.
- Once you start to enjoy the process of learning or improvement, ten years will pass in a blink. Beautifully.
This is the Path of Personal Fulfillment, perfection, of greatness. In what will you find yours?
Why do I feel lonely and depressed when I am bored? Is boredom a form of depression?
There is an important distinction I must make here and that is the difference between the fear of loneliness and the feeling of loneliness. You can feel lonely even out of a sense of chronic boredom (although there’s more to it) but the fear of loneliness arises directly from a sense of insecurity and inadequacy.
In the former, you simply feel disconnected or even directionless. You may have a large group of friends and family, hobby groups, community groups, and a great family life, yet you may still feel lonely in your personal life.
But, when you have the fear of loneliness, it often means you don’t want to live by yourself, that you long for company. You need to go to the root cause of this fear to find out what triggers this feeling. Seeing a mental health professional would help multifold.
I Am Lonely – read more.
Is boredom a form of depression?
Boredom has been associated with a number of mental health disorders, including depression and substance abuse.
Boredom is generally considered a negative state of mind and can lead to anxiety and depression. It may also cause people to engage in risky behaviors, such as drug use, alcohol abuse or crime.
The causes of boredom are not well understood. Research suggests that factors such as temperament, intelligence and personality type may play a role in how susceptible people are to feeling bored.
This is the most common form of depression, and it’s usually the first type that people think of when they hear the word “depression.”
People with a major depressive disorder feel sad, empty or anxious more days than not for at least two weeks. They may also have physical symptoms such as headaches, trouble sleeping or eating too much or too little. People with this condition may also lose interest in things they used to enjoy and have thoughts of death or suicide.
People with a major depressive disorder often experience a chemical imbalance — they have too much serotonin or other neurotransmitters in their brains. This imbalance causes them to feel down, tired and unmotivated.
Can a bored and restless person ever bear to be alone?
The Sanskrit term for solitude is ekānta. By solitude, I do not mean that you live in a remote place but have access to TV, books, the internet and the rest of it. By solitude, I mean that you are just by yourself. You, in your own company, in your own life.
The only person you have to talk to you is you, the only person you have to listen to is you, the only person around is you. The only object of engagement for your mind is you. When you are bored, you go back to yourself and when you are happy, you share it with yourself.
During the practice of ekānta, you do not even see others, let alone meet them or talk to them. The only person you get to see is you.
An unmistakable sign of a restless mind is its inability to embrace ekānta. For the restless, nothing is more terrifying.
Ekanta: The Practice of Solitude is a fast-track method to understand yourself and turn inward, even if it is driven by boredom.
How do I get out of this unbearable restlessness and boredom that I feel? How do I stop feeling bored?
Are you bored with life? Do you feel directionless, agitated and uncertain?
The video below tells you how to live a purposeful life, a life that helps one face the challenges that life throws at us, more often than not.
- 1:25: Your mind is shaped by age 3
- 3:37: The 3 methods of removing sadness
- 8:39: Are you working up to your potential?
- 13:09: It’s impossible to always be happy
What do I do if I feel bored of my own life? How do I stop living a boring life?
If you feel bored, it could be that you need more activities in your life so that you can stay stimulated and engaged. Here are some things to try that might help:
1) Get out of the house more often – Go shopping or have lunch with friends instead of watching TV every day after work, don’t give yourself too much free time.
2) Try new activities – Sign up for classes at the YMCA or volunteer at an animal shelter; take up yoga or painting classes; join a book club or pick up a new hobby.
3) Get involved in something bigger than yourself – Volunteer at an animal shelter; take up yoga or painting classes; join a book club or visit museums regularly and meet more people.
4) Meet new people – Spending time with different people can be an excellent way to break out of a rut. You’ll meet new people who have different interests than the ones you already know, which will introduce you to new ideas and experiences that may inspire you creatively.
Why do I get so bored in relationships?
It’s not easy to find someone who can make us feel happy and secure. We can spend weeks, months or even years searching for that perfect match, only to be left feeling like something’s missing.
It’s a common problem. There are a number of reasons why we get bored with our partners, but the most common is because they don’t meet our needs. They’re not giving us what we need emotionally or sexually.
Boredom doesn’t just happen in relationships — it happens everywhere in life. It’s natural for things to get boring from time to time; it’s part of life! But when you’re bored with your partner, it can seriously affect your relationship and cause a lot of stress in your life.
What did Einstein say about boredom?
“Boredom is a vital problem for the whole of mankind and is far more important than any other problem that can be solved by the use of money.” – Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds of all time. The physicist’s theories and formulas have changed the way we look at the universe.
But he wasn’t always a genius. In fact, he was pretty darn bored in school.
When Einstein started school, he was already behind his peers. His parents had moved to Germany from Italy when he was an infant, but they didn’t speak German fluently, so Albert didn’t learn how to speak until he was 4 years old.
He also struggled with reading and writing until age 9 — about two years behind schedule for most children his age. Plus, his parents were too busy working to help him catch up on his studies.
Einstein didn’t do well in school because he found it boring — and that made him act out in class sometimes (like when he’d throw apples at his teachers).
But as a young adult, he realized how important education was for success later in life. So instead of giving up on school altogether as many kids do when they’re bored out of their minds, Einstein decided to make it fun by inventing games while learning math problems or memorizing vocabulary words.
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