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.
Boredom: the desire for desires – Leo Tolstoy
What is boredom? In today’s digital age, it is at the forefront of existence more than it has ever been. 30-second videos, 15-second snippets, audio, visual, print, social media, digital books, audio books: never has humanity been presented with so many options for entertainment.
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. Where do we turn, what do we watch, which option do we pick?
Sometimes, boredom is saturation of the excess. We feel a strange, almost ferocious, restlessness with life in general.
Can you die of boredom?
The question, though improbable, is sadly not uncommon. How can you move past the psychological death of boredom and find life fresh once more? The FAQs section is here to help you find out.
Because if you have the strength to move past the phenomenon of boredom, you will soon find that you are bored of being bored because being bored is boring 😊
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)
How can I keep life from being boring?
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, 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, 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?
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 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, yet you may still feel lonely. But, when you have the fear of loneliness, it often means you don’t want to live by yourself, that you long for company.
What do you experience?
But this is the truth: everyone is lonely. When you are bored with life, loneliness appears even more prominent.
I Am Lonely – read more.
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, internet and the rest of it. By solitude, I mean that you are just by yourself. You in your own company.
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?
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 upto your potential?
- 13:09: It’s impossible to always be happy