Bored with life? Feeling directionless? From where I see it, being bored can be good for you. Learn to harness boredom the right way and it could become the most powerful thing in what could otherwise be a pointless life.
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 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 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 was 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 a 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 particularly holds 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 realise when you are getting bored; you become your own witness. Acceptance and alertness, when bored, help you to overcome lazy boredom. Awareness and relaxation help 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 a 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.
Art of Meditation
Rise above the feelings that take you on a ride. Live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Our first reaction when we get bored is to find a distraction or a way to escape. And this causes more harm in the long run. Here are some insights that will help you tackle boredom and find a meaningful way to live when you are bored with life.
I am bored with life and routine. What should I do to bring back interest in life?
Every single happy person, and every successful person, without fail, has a sense of individual purpose, almost a sort of passion. Look around, and you’ll know what I mean. 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, keeps them engaged. Read more here.
I am bored with my life and don’t want to talk to anyone. Am I depressed, or just sad? Is there any hope for me?
If your signs of depression are limited to great boredom, sluggishness, stupor, insomnia, phobia, and restlessness, your depression is at the initial level. You are still in the green zone and can get back to your original mental health in a short time frame.
Depression is not a type of fear that you need to face it to decimate it. It is just a state of mind, albeit not the desirable one. Just like you think of ice cream but may not have it, you can choose to let go off depression exactly like that. It is impossible to know or feel that you have depression till you entertain the thought of actually having it.
Read more here.
I am lonely, I feel empty and I am super bored with life. What should I do?
Loneliness is what you experience when you feel utterly directionless in your life when you find everything pointless (even if for a short while). It is remarkable how an increasing number of people are being plagued and pestered by feelings of intense loneliness.
The cure for loneliness, therefore, is not to find someone or something that keeps you engaged, happy or busy. It is but to find your center of awareness and realize that to taste lasting happiness, we must turn inward and embrace the beauty of loneliness. Read more here.
I am bored with life, and bored with my partner. Is it okay to feel this way, and should we separate?
Sometimes relationships can be really confusing. Your partner is good with you one moment and terrible the next. He makes promises igniting hope in you and before you know he is back to square one. You are made to ride an emotional roller coaster. You make yourself strong to move out of the relationship, but, just when you do that, a spate of good incidents force you to think otherwise.
So, when should you really move out of a relationship, be it marriage or any other intimate relationship? Read more here.
Someone I know is very bored with life, nothing I do makes him/her happy anymore. How can I make them happy?
Should I tell you the easiest way to make the other person happy? No, it’s not flowers, things, or gifts; they play a part, but there is something even more important.
The easiest way to make someone happy is to appreciate them.
When you make the other person feel that you understand they are trying, that you appreciate what they are doing for you and the relationship, this right away boosts their self-esteem and morale. When you make an effort to appreciate them, you gain directly from it as well. How? Read more here.
How can I tame my mind, and will this stop me from getting bored with life?
You must love yourself enough to not defile yourself, you must value yourself so you don’t ignore what your body and mind need, you must treat yourself with respect because without these things, it will be impossible to develop a kindful relationship with yourself. And, in the absence of self-love and self-kindness, our approach towards ourselves will remain that of the hammer’s in our story.
We need to be the key, someone who can hold a polite conversation with our mind and find out what it needs from us. Read more here.
I want to be someone who says YES to life, and not always be bogged down by my responsibilities. I want to live my life and not be this bored with life. What should I do?
Do not deprive yourself of the joys just because you are not fulfilling certain conditions others have placed on you. As long as you are not hurting anyone, you are good. Live! Do what you have always wanted to do, be what you have always wished. Give yourself a chance, do not be so hard on yourself, give it a try. Now is the perfect time, for perfection is simply a perspective, and ‘now’ the only real moment. Go on! Say Yes to life. Break free. Read more here.
My family does not love me, I am often alone and bored with life. Is there a way to not to feel this worthless in life.
To feel loved is not a privilege but a basic human necessity. It is rudimentary. Unfortunately, in our world today, most are deprived of love. It’s often a futile exercise to keep searching for love or to keep wanting it from someone else. Therefore, if you are not being loved by someone else, learn to love yourself.
It takes a while to get to that state — to be in love with yourself, selflessly. Until then, give your love to others, to those who want it. And then, one day, you will find yourself gazing deep into the soothing light of transformation; you will discover yourself in a deep ocean of bliss, as your heart will overflow with warmth and love, washing away all the pain and hurt life put you through, to feel loved. When you adopt compassion and serve His creation, Providence arranges for precisely what is lacking in your life. Lacking — not as you may define it but as in what you may need. Read more here.