If you stop to think about it for a second…
We have this one weird emotion called boredom.
And it’s weird because it isn’t like the other emotions that seem genuinely helpful at first glance.
So why do we suddenly lose interest in something that we found enjoyable at first? What is the purpose of being bored nowadays?
Boredom is a luxury in our present-day life. Cavemen had no time to think about being bored when they had to struggle to find food and live to the next day.
But now that we have the technology to ensure our survival we could now live comfortable lives where safety and finding food is never a problem anymore.
But along with this comfort comes boredom. This uneasy, uncomfortable feeling that hangs around you every single moment of your life and can strike at any moment.
And instead of eliminating boredom completely from our life…
we should embrace boredom and ask ourselves “How can I use boredom in my present life to create the life I want?”
What is Boredom (And Why Are You Explaining This To Me?)
Boredom is an emotional state where you lose interest in whatever you were doing.
- You are scrolling through Facebook until 30 minutes later… you get bored.
- You are rewatching a Netflix series… and you get bored.
- You are doing homework you don’t feel like doing… and you still get bored.
And it’s not limited by place either.
You can be bored…
- Flying on a plane
- Waiting for someone
- Commuting by car
- Not playing enough games
- Playing too many games
And the funny part is that we always try to escape from boredom rather than embrace it.
We do this by talking with friends and family, watching Netflix, reading books, doing meaningful work, etc.
And if we feel just an ounce of boredom we whip out our phones to check the latest buzz on social media.
All our actions in our current society are trying to escape from boredom every second of our lives…
Which is impossible to do (unless we hook you up to a machine constantly pumping you dopamine into your brain.)
We are now trained by society to be always looking for the “next new thing.” The next new exciting TV show, the next new exciting celebrity, the next new diet to completely change your lives, the next new viral social media video about a cat sleeping with an adorable face…
And it becomes an addiction and a way of life that none of us truly want.
I mean let’s face it. None of you dreamed of scrolling through Facebook for 30 minutes everyday just to see the next viral video. We just do it because it feels a lot better than sitting with that uncomfortable feeling boredom gives off.
And this means we are slowly losing the self-control where we impulsively check our phones rather than just feel a wave of boredom hit us.
So why should we feel boredom rather than constantly try to run away from it all the time?
It’s because we need boredom in our lives to have exciting lives.
Without boredom there would be no excitement in the world.
So rather than trying to run away from boredom like the plague… it’s better to embrace the right kind of boredom.
And so what is the right kind of boredom? I decided to categorize the different kinds of boredom we experience every day into two easy categories:
- Productive boredoms
- Unproductive boredoms
Now it sounds kind of contradictory to have “productive boredoms” together but there are certain kinds of boredom that is healthy to have in your life.
It mainly falls under two categories:
- Mindfulness (Meditation, running without music, being aware without constantly checking your phone, etc.)
- Boredom when you are doing productive work that you fully believe you should be doing to advance your goals.
Mindfulness like meditation has a ton of benefits for your body both physically and mentally. It is also really boring at first.
Just think about it… you are literally sitting there doing absolutely nothing with the purpose of clearing your thoughts for as long as you want. Which means no new stimulus. No thinking about the upcoming things you are about to do. Nothing.
And this type of boredom helps silence the extra noise in your life by focusing on what really matters.
The other type of “productive boredom” is when you are working on something that you truly believe like your business or your dreams of becoming a writer.
This is what comes along when you want to become famous. You need to put in your “dues” and not only work extremely hard but also through many boring hours.
And the weird part about boredom is that if you continuously practice these types of habits, it becomes a lot easier to “be bored” and you may even find it enjoyable at first.
These are the boring feelings you experience that do not help you whatsoever in your life goals.
Some examples would be:
- You have been watching TV for 6 hours and you get bored but continue watching it
- You are bored so you decide to eat a gallon of ice cream
- Your bored so you decide to procrastinate
The example above are negative habits that are influenced from being bored.
Being bored is not the problem. It’s the actions you take and feeling you experience that determine whether it helps you or not.
Why We Need Boredom In Our Lives
Let’s create a little world where boredom does not exist in our lives at all.
This means one of two scenarios…
- We live in a world where the emotion “boredom” ceases to exist.
- We live in a world where we have the emotion “boredom” but we have never experienced it.
The first scenario would be just an ordinary world where nothing changes (and probably no new technology) because the old stuff that we always see will be entertaining and enough.
The second scenario means that we have to be hooked up to a machine in a dystopian future where we receive surges of dopamine every second.
Either way both of these scenarios suck because we don’t have a reference point between what’s boring and what’s exciting anymore.
We need to have boredom in our lives to experience the excitement. Just like we need sadness in order to feel happiness.
If you are always living an exciting life then that will normalize your body’s perception where your new “excitement” will become the new standard. This means all the exciting stuff would become routine to you and you will need even greater stimulus just to not feel bored.
Which would create a cycle of never-ending excitement for you to chase after (which isn’t the type of life I would go for.)
Why Does Boredom Exist?
It’s because we are born with it.
And the reason why we were probably born with boredom is that we needed to always seek out new stimulus during our hunter-gatherer times to promote our chances of survivability.
But here comes the 21st century and boredom completely backfires on us with addictions and social media to take advantage (and make money) off of this emotion.
So I like to think of boredom as a sign from your body and you can do one of two things…
- Listen to that feeling and do something else.
- Listen to that feeling but continue what you’re doing
Your body is saying to you that it has no interested in whatever you are doing and in continuing it further. So it is all up to your mind to have the final decision.
And choosing whether to stop or continue that action when you are bored is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life.
We want to listen to our body but also not be completely controlled making decisions based on feelings alone.
And sometimes we just don’t know whether we should listen to our mind or body.
And the only way to know what is the right decision is through experience.
And that just means taking the plunge of whatever decision you do and seeing what happens.
If you worked through your boredom of working 12 hours a day to trying to start a business and it changes your life… then maybe you should continue it. Or reevaluate if you are burning out.
Or if you constantly have this nagging feeling for years that you want to quit your job and do something else… it might be better to look for another job. Or consider other opportunities.
But experiencing boredom and listening to that feeling gives you time to reflect on your actions to see if you are going to do it further or not.
Either way, boredom is just a feeling and ultimately it’s up to your decision to decide what you want to do.
How Can I Use Boredom To Achieve My Life Goals And Become Successful
You can leverage boredom to help you achieve your life goals.
Many of the things that we want in life consist of going through many boring hours before we can actually achieve our goals.
The estimate is around 10,000 hours of focused time to become a master and around ⅓ of that to become proficient.
Which means you have to put in 4 hours (that’s about the human limit) of pure focused time for 2,500 days (~7 years) on only one subject.
And at one point you will feel really bored and will have to overcome that resistance to become a master.
But that’s only if you want to become a master at one thing like singing, writing, working out, etc.
Let’s say you don’t want to be a master but you want to have success in your life in health, finance, and relationships.
You still need to overcome your boredom to have the focus required to achieve your goals.
- If you want to eat and stay healthy… you need to put in the hours of cooking and going to the gym
- If you want to date a ton of beautiful women… you need to put in the time every day to go out and look for women to talk to (and get a good game.)
- If you want to start and manage a business… you need to put in quite a lot of work for managing everything and doing all the paperwork no one really enjoys.
But we can minimize boredom so that we can start to pursue what we truly want.
Think of being bored as a test. There’s only 1% of successful people out there who decided that they really want those goals.
Everyone talks about overnight success. If you look one step further you can see that it took many failures.
What most people fail to neglect is the actual process of many boring hours to reach those consecutive failures before they reached success.
It’s boring. It’s stressful. And you don’t know what is going to happen unless you put in the work required and see what happens.
Most people don’t want to put in the time and effort to master something because it’s boring for a long period of time without something happening.
Another thing to consider is what you think is boring is that someone else in the world may find it exciting.
So being bored is completely subjective to you. Rewatching The Walking Dead may be a bore to you but completely exciting for a diehard fan. Someone may have joy in their life scrubbing toilets. Someone’s passion could be sleeping only 4 hours a day.
And what does this mean?
When you have the resources you can start hiring people to do some of the things that are required but are completely boring to you.
How To Gain Control And Mastery Of Boredom
Boredom is just a subjective feeling that you experience.
This means that our perception of boredom is just ours alone. If we hate swimming then someone out there probably loves swimming.
And since boredom is just our personal perception… that means we can change what we are bored of to an extent.
And like everything else it takes practice to master this skill and here are some guidelines to make it faster.
Step 1: Be Aware When You Are Bored
It doesn’t matter if you want to control boredom if you don’t even know when you’re bored.
You have to be aware of when it happens. What do you do afterward? How does your body feel everywhere? What are your thoughts when it happens? Is it the same type of feeling if I get a different sense of boredom from something else?
You want to pay attention to these minute details so you can customize how you are going to deal with it.
Yeah, it can be as simple as watching Netflix and feeling bored. But you should take it one step further and feel the exact sensations of feeling bored.
Step 2: Develop A Strong Purpose To Overcome Boredom
If you truly wanted to change your life from the bottom of your heart, your strong why should be enough.
This personal why is your conviction of why you want to persist through anything (even boredom) to get what you want.
It’s like having a gun to your head. You would do anything in your powers going all through that hard and boring work just so that you don’t die…
You might even be so stressed that you don’t have time to think about being bored and only about fulfilling that goal.
Either way, you have to look at yourself carefully and ask yourself “Why do I want to go through this boring work to achieve this goal?”
Because there is no way to avoid boredom if you have ambitious goals like many people.
Some people’s reasons for working are freedom. They want the freedom to choose how they live and what they do for fun.
Others want stability in their lives with a beautiful home and happy family.
Step 3: Start Creating Habits To Deal With Boredom
Your body’s like a machine and your response to a certain decision will influence future decisions.
New neurons can develop in your brain to strengthen that particular action making it easier and vice versa.
So in the short term being bored and then watching television may not hurt you. But those neurons start developing making it harder to change that habit.
For example… if you want to become a writer and you absolutely know that you must write to develop your writing skills and you find that boring… then you will have to ignore that and continue writing despite your body saying it doesn’t want to (or do something else.)
Whereas if you are watching Netflix for a long period of time and realize you are getting bored and not closer to your life dream goals… you may have to listen to your body and do something else.
What happens over time is that you are training your body how to respond when it is bored in different circumstances.
So if you always continue to push through when you are bored when you are working, then your body will acknowledge that and will start to adapt to forming new habits.
Step 4: Develop Assisting Positive Habits To Deal With Boredom (Optional)
This is similar to step 3 but we are creating positive habits that feel boring which would increase the rate of return on your life.
This means practicing boring habits that are great for you.
So here are some habits that would help you train to start experiencing “boredom.”
- Running Without Music
- Playing an instrument
- Any hobby that requires hard work and discipline
We are training your body to go through long periods of focused work so that it would become easier to deal with in the future.
It’s sort of like adding training wheels to your life. You don’t need them but they sure as hell make riding through life a lot easier at first.
Boring is just a feeling. A state of mind that you experience when your body doesn’t want to continue an action any further.
Although being bored will greatly influence your decision, it’s up to you for the final decision. And it’s that final decision that can change your life.
And being influenced by being bored is one of the major reasons why people don’t achieve many of their dreams. Mainly because they don’t realize that the hard work also consists of many boring hours that you have to get through without experiencing a reward anytime soon.
And if you can overcome this feeling you will be one step closer into achieving your dreams.