Boredom! We all feel it from time to time, but we generally don’t really understand
exactly why. It is convenient to blame lack of stimuli, but is that really what causes
boredom? If we learn what boredom is, can this help us prevent it from gripping us
in its bland, unamused clutches? (Because if fear has an icy grip and anger a hot
one, boredom is at best lukewarm.)
Interestingly enough, boredom is not an external thing, and is actually a sign that
we are learning our environment well!
Boredom drives us to find new activities
Boredom is what happens when we begin to pare down the amount of mental
effort needed to preform a given task. This is why doing new things is always
interesting, as long as it is not too similar to things we are familiar with. As we
learn how to do something, our brains can do the task at hand more and more
efficiently, until there is not enough mental activity to keep us engaged in the task
This saves energy, something needed in a harder, more primitive world! Boredom
however, while energy saving, also drives us to find new activities and interests,
so that we will continue to expand our world, rather than getting used to a simple
holding pattern and stying exactly as we are.
Our natural mechanism for handling boredom is clear and fairly simple. Seek out
a novel activity or piece of information. Doing so will push our brains into using
greater neural recruitment, which will handle boredom for us without doing any
hard mental work.
Still, finding something different to do is not always an option. Try explaining to
your boss that, after five years on the job, you have learned all you can and that
is why you need to spend all day on the Internet instead of doing your boring and
mundane work. (Don’t really say that! You probably like having a job and paying
off your bills, eating and all that stuff.)
Luckily though, there are other ways to fight off boredom. Ways that always work
if you apply yourself to them with great focus!
Here are some of them that can be used to improve the daily life of anyone that
needs to keep working while not going insane from the boring world around you!
This is the simplest sounding of all the techniques, but don’t be fooled, people
have spent a life time mastering this one.
All you have to do is pay attention to what you are doing. Very close attention.
Don’t let your mind wonder and when it tries to, bring your focus back to what you
are doing. Lock in on the patterns, the flow, each portion of each moment as it
This is deceptively taxing, but you won’t be bored if you actually do it! Really, you
can’t be bored while doing this. It is biologically impossible, as long as you are
actually doing the work and not just phoning in your attempt.
This is similar in some ways to the technique above, but has a nifty variation that makes it far easier for most people to handle.
When you are doing something boring, try to imagine a brightly colored glow around everything involved in the process. Hold this mental image while completing the task. Use multiple colors, a new one for each portion of the task. Try to follow the flow of energy and visualize it as it is happening as closely to
what is really going on as possible!
Change the colors, the size and pattern of the glowing, add in dots of color, wavy
lines, expand the area of “effect” and contract it to a tiny portion of what you are
This process will easily kick your brain out of boredom, due to the massive
amount of novelty and neural recruitment!
You can also add in sounds to go with what you are doing. (Imagined sounds,
otherwise things may get a bit odd at work.)
Oddly enough, since you are matching what is going on around you, your ability
to focus on and remember what is happening will go up significantly while doing
By imparting even the smallest portions of what you are doing with an imagined
emotion, that you actually try to feel acutely, you also can dodge around boredom
Focusing on the Happy feeling of pushing the letter J on your keyboard or a
sense of accomplishment when you remember to sit up straighter will impact your
brain chemistry rapidly.
You can use any emotional state, but I recommend sticking with the positive ones,
as imagining negative emotions can bring a person down even more rapidly than
being bored does!