Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.

~ Denis Diderot (1713 - 1784) ~


October 24th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 56 secs

How boring does life have to be?

Nobody warns you how boring life can be, do they? Nor do they ever offer much of solution to frustration it causes.

As a child, I thought being bored at home and school was bad enough. But that’s nothing compared to the boring torture of meetings, and frequent waiting you face as a responsible adult.

Though, in my case, I have to admit being responsible is a kind of rubbery word. I like to keep a little bit of cheekiness with me. So that, every now and then when boredom is unrelenting, I can throw in a splash of audacity to enliven the moment. Some would suggest that’s not terribly responsible. Yet, I would declare it’s probably the most responsible irresponsibility possible.

Of course, the crux of the matter is the subjective nature of boredom. Some can debate the minutest of details for hours in complete fascination. While others become restless at the mere idea that anything needs more than cursory attention. What makes things boring is a surprisingly thought-provoking issue.

I imagine I fit somewhere in the middle, switching between childlike impatience and deep determination. If you’re like me, things become boring when fatigue hits, hunger grips, or there’s something more pressing elsewhere. Likewise, being trapped anywhere that feels colorless, drab, and lacking in stimulus doesn’t bode well on the boring front. Without some kind of variety, such deprivation feels like torture.

Physiologically, we need variation. Even at rest, our eyes are performing miniscule flickers to keep things in focus and maintain our awareness. Sameness is distressing. That’s why drawn out meetings, chores, and acts of endurance are so phenomenally boring. So long as we feel we’re getting insufficient stimulation, anxiety kicks in.

Yet, there is another side to boring situations and that’s a lackluster mind. People lacking the ability to use their imagination, create possibilities, or exercise positive influence, are more likely to become jaded. Just as people whose mind is trained for multitasking distractions quickly get restless (got to keep checking for any texts, emails, or Facebook; just in case).

Put like this, it’s clear that a lot of life’s boring bits are partially self-inflicted. Poor quality thinking, with its low-grade concentration, demands entertainment. So, relatively low stimulus situations pose a high anxiety risk. Unless we can elevate our thinking abilities enough to observe more deeply and think more freely, a lot of life is bound to get desperately boring.

So what can we do? Are there mental exercises to alleviate the threat of dreary feelings? Or, is it simply a case of grinning wildly and bearing each interminably boring situation with good grace?

For sanity’s sake, I advocate a few things that you can do to help you face the tyranny of all things boring:
1. Bring socially acceptable equipment to fiddle with. Doodling, for example, can do wonders if you care to let your mind roam freely.
2. Stop assuming you know what’s going to happen. Actually, the next moment isn’t quite as predicable as we think. Discover each instant as something new and the potential for possibilities grows.
3. See the funny side of things. Having a laugh about a situation can break your mental state away from deciding all is boring. Plus, it’s fun.
4. Where you can, participate. Everything feels less boring if you can give of your best.
5. Focus on thankfulness. It’s hard to simultaneously feel appreciation and declare everything boring. So, having an attitude of gratitude is a helpful antidote.
6. Seek productivity. Whatever you do, try to make the moment count. The more you do, the less disempowered and discontented you’ll feel.
7. Grab someone handy. Communicate stimulating ideas in print, or speech gives any boring situation a more inspiring social context (even if you have to whisper, flirt, or gesture your way through).

If life frequently feels too boring to you, take stock. What can you ditch? And, what needs tweaking to make it more engaging? The more you think this through, the more likely you’ll spare yourself a lot of wasted moments. Happily, the answer to minimizing so many boring moments is really up to us.

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