Thoughts of the Day: Boredom

Boredom

Hi everyone!

Did you all have a good weekend so far? I hope you are up for another long Sunday (night) read on the Pineapple Chicken blog. Today, I wanted to discuss boredom – it is an odd topic but please bear with me on this one 🙂 Earlier this week, I spent the better of last weekend and which dragged out to the remainder of the week in bed after catching a really bad cold that manifested itself into a horrible chesty cough. (I apologise for the superlatives, but honestly, I hate being ill).

Though I should have been resting in bed and recovering, I found myself extremely bored and growing ever restless. I felt guilty that I wasn’t using my downtime properly and doing something more productive. In my semi-delirious state, I thought I should try and understand what boredom really is and why do I feel bored? Should boredom be considered as something negative? 

What is boredom? 

“Bored” as defined in the dictionary is “feeling weary and impatient because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.” It is interesting that the definition also associates boredom with negative feelings, I would personally also associate boredom with restlessness and frustration.

I think Grant Faulkner wonderfully describes boredom in this article as an incessant need for stimulation – I have a tic, an affliction, a virus. When a moment of emptiness descends upon me, I reach for my phone, tap it madly, and hope to find stimulation…My brain craves novelty and stimulation, and I’m caught in a loop of compulsive neediness.

Why do we feel bored?

Though it may be potentially simple to define boredom, there is a lot more literature around why one feels bored and try to explain the underlying causes. Gustavo Razzetti explains boredom as the following, but I find it difficult to agree with. Personally, life is not always about giving more because let’s face it – that can be so tiring at times! 

“We feel bored because, deep inside ourselves, we know we can give more. Boredom is the pain of unused potential; it’s a disconnection to everything we can offer the world and vice versa.”

There is one train of thought that boredom has come from over-stimulation referring back to Grant Faulkner above, it is this constant need to fill in “gaps” with your phone but ultimately you never get satisfied. I agree with this statement more because I have not found myself bored if I am reading a good book, blogging or trying to meditate (and still trying very hard). Yet, I can feel bored whilst just looking at my phone to browse social media or try to find something interesting on Netflix.

Others have tried to explain the cause of boredom is because we find it hard having fun with our own company. I only partially agree with this, I love going to museums, galleries, and bookstores etc. on my own. I love solitude (from time to time) and I think it is important for my wellbeing. However, I agree with the opinion because when I was at home ill, I needed company and stimulating conversation; which also drove my boyfriend nuts as I was just being needy! I did try and do something productive like finishing my book. Honestly, my brain was just not up to it, so instead, I ended up binge-watching Netflix which seemed to make me even more bored! Was I facing the dilemma below? 

“We crave for more time. However, when we have free time, we don’t know what to do with it. Nothing seems exciting enough to deserve our valuable time. We end up doing nothing and get bored.”

Is boredom all the bad?

Why is boredom seen as such a negative thing? It implies that we are unappreciative of the world and what it has to offer, like the age-old saying – only boring people get bored? As one writer explained his experience when he was growing up – he had “exhausted the world of possibilities”. That is pretty harsh! I understand the sentiment that when one is learning, you shouldn’t be bored because there the world is a magical place and there is always something to learn/interest someone. Though there are definitely counter-arguments to this, I mean, who are they to say that the kid isn’t just the next entrepreneur. 

Whatever it is, boredom is a state of mind, just like sadness and happiness; therefore, should we really be categorising it into something that is negative or positive?

Others have said that boredom is a sign of laziness– savage! If boredom is just a state of mind, then it can be changed; i.e. you are not happy about something, change it! Let’s be honest, it is easier said than done. Should we not just be kind to ourselves from time to time and also recognise that we are imperfect and just human, with a myriad of emotions and thoughts?

Is it okay to be bored?  

To turn the argument on its head, is boredom really as bad for us? Do we have to constantly be productive? Others have put a lot of thought into this, particularly in this article

Sandi Mann, a psychologist, conducted an experiment to further understand emotions in the workplace in the 1990s. She found that “People who are bored think more creatively than those who aren’t.” Others have described that boredom can be a powerful tool that invites you to rethink your relationship with the world. Potentially my boredom in the sick bed created the right connections in my brain to write and research this topic (maybe, just maybe :)). A wonderfully light-hearted TED talk yet inspiring talk by Manoush Zomorodi on “How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas”. She has also written a book – “Bored and Brilliant” which I think will be going on the to-read list! Have any of you read the book? 

Her video was part of a playlist on TED talks to discuss “Why it is sometimes good to be bored”. So if you have time, I really recommend taking the time to have a listen to the various talks, maybe it may inspire you to embrace boredom and think of it as something positive and good for the mind. 

Parting tips

It is surprising how much is written on boredom and how it is a multi-dimensional topic with various views. Thank you for sticking with me to the end of this blog post! 

I am going to be kind to myself (as I always am lol!) and I think it is okay to be bored, I do not see it as a negative feeling and think we should embrace a wandering mind. However, I do think that replacing boredom with more stimulus such as YouTube videos or Netflix is the one thing we should be avoiding. Though, I recognise that there are days when mindless videos are just what you need. I want to start off with baby steps, so before I pick up my phone or TV remote, I am going to try a few of the tips below and I would love to know if they work for you!

Tips for boredom

  • Avoid technology when you feel bored – entertainment snacks will make you crave for more; rather than controlling your boredom, your need for distraction will never be satisfied. Hence, my binge-watching of Netflix from time to time.
  • Recover the joy of mundane tasks – when was the last time you wash the dishes and just allowed yourself to be present at the moment thinking of nothing else? Recovering the pleasure of doing small tasks may build a sense of achievement. I found that KonMari/tidying up is a good thing to do when I am bored.
  • Let your mind wander – when you find yourself bored, why not pick up a pen or paper and just let your mind wander. See where it leads you, let your mind feed on your own thoughts. It could potentially lead you down a creative path.

As always, I would love to hear from you about your thoughts on boredom, so please do leave a comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

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