Sometimes our boredom is a sign that we are searching for something more meaningful
Boredom has been defined by C. D. Fisher in terms of its central psychological processes “an unpleasant, transient affective state in which the individual feels a pervasive lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity”. M. R. Leary and others describe boredom as “an affective experience associated with cognitive attentional processes”. Recent research has also suggested that boredom proneness is clearly and consistently associated with failures of attention.
In positive psychology, boredom is described as a response to a moderate challenge for which the subject has more than enough skill. Boredom is often misunderstood and most of us feel we are bored when we have nothing to do but in actual fact, an interesting paper by John Eastwood, Alexandra Frischen, Mark Fenske, and Daniel Smilek in the September, 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science suggests that attention plays an important role in creating boredom. In particular, there are a few conditions that need to be met for people to feel bored.
First, people need to have a reasonable level of psychological energy or arousal to feel bored. When people have low arousal and there is not much happening in the world, then they often feel relaxed. When they have high arousal, though, they have energy they would like to devote to something, but they cannot find anything engaging. Second, boredom typically occurs when people have trouble focusing their attention and they believe the reason for this difficulty is in the environment. When sitting in the airport, for example, there is probably a lot going on. There are people having conversations that you could listen to. You probably have something to read. There may be televisions showing the news. But, the stress of waiting for a delayed flight often makes it hard to concentrate, and so your mind jumps from one thing to another. You assume that this is caused by the environment, and so you feel boredom.
We can often feel jaded in conditions that we feel are out of our control, and sometimes due to a lack of control we can lose motivation and shut down, labelling our frustrations as “boredom”. Author Scott H Young also goes by the notion that boredom is not caused by a lack of activity as he writes: “ I don’t believe boredom is caused by a lack of things you want to do, but it is instead mislabelled to disguise a problem”.
This is said to be the reason why most attempts to stop boredom fail – as the route of the problem is not being addressed but there are many tactics we can use to utilise a new and profound way of thinking and one of them is unveiling the mask so that we can begin to find out what it is that is draining our energy. The first step towards banishing our boredom is to try and recognise what it is that we would prefer to be doing.
Perhaps you are stuck in a business meeting, a traffic jam or wedged between a debate that you find monotonous, but whatever it is, you need to ask yourself what it is you would prefer to be doing. Once you have made the discovery you can begin to unleash your frustration by understanding your true needs. Even if you can’t do what you desire straight away, you might begin to understand why you are becoming bored so easily.
Finding spiritual release in boredom
Our boredom can make us think very deeply about our existence, it can also make us feel as if we are not really living in the moment. We are perhaps tired of our own thinking or tired of hearing about what everyone else has to say, we may be trapped in the past or too concerned about the future. But your boredom can speak to you and could well be a sign that you have run yourself dry. It may be time to let go of the old, we need stimulation when we have become numb and also the drive to ignite new ways of thinking.
Blaise Pascal in the Pensées discuss the human condition in saying "we seek rest in a struggle against some obstacles. And when we have overcome these, rest proves unbearable because of the boredom it produces", and later states that "only an infinite and immutable object – that is, God himself – can fill this infinite abyss.
After we have gone through the turmoil of facing our conquests in life we reach a destination that asks us to focus solely on our being and this is where many of us feel absent from the activities that are going on around us, because we have to face the truth of our inner light. However, this is when many of us become spiritual and engage in healing activities such as psychic studies, yoga or deep mediation. Many of us find our guides or the energy that we call “God”.
Therefore without stimulus and without real meaning we are bound to feel dejected, but it is by confronting this “nothingness” that we begin to gradually fill the void we thought was empty. Meaningless experiences that don’t motivate us can add to this feeling that we call “boredom” , just being aware of our lack of fulfilment can pave the way to new and exiting opportunities and experiences that make us feel revitalised and at play with the universe.
Things to combat boredom:
Go outside and be bored
Walk around, smell the air around you, count the trees, watch the leaves fall, look at the sky or watch the birds, when our minds in a relaxed state, new ideas tend to form as we allow them the space too!
Think about something that you wouldn’t normally think about
This could be anything. Research something on line for example, it could be a news article that you had seen two days ago but forgotten about, it could be something to do with your hair colour, or your hobbies. Perhaps you have seen or felt something spiritually recently. What is it? Research it! Use one of your secret mind powers
Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go and just simply be. People watch. Notice things about them and stay alert to your surroundings – peoples’ actions can sometimes help us to determine why we act or speak in a certain way. This can also be a great way to get in touch with your secret mind power. You may be able to sense, feel or see how they are going to act before they do.