Should You be Really Afraid of Boredom?

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Boredom has Negative Overtone

Boredom has become another dirty word like pain and nightmare. People want to avoid boredom at all costs – ever heard the phrase “bored to death”. That is how negatively boredom is viewed when in fact; it is only a lack of stimulation and is characterized by slow reactions, lack of productivity, lack of alertness, and reduced emotional response.

An important characteristic of boredom is that it is generally a creation of the person who is bored. Being more precise it depends on the value judgment; things are boring only if someone judges them as boring. While some people get easily bored, others are almost immune to it.

Causes of Boredom

“Boredom is the fear of self.”  Marie Joséphine de Suin

“Boredom is your mind and body’s way of telling you you’re not living up to your potential.” 
 Hal Sparks

Boredom is more common in people who thrive on excessive stimulation and change. They require frequent thrills to not get bored and quite often this desire for change keeps them busy. Even slight monotony (lack of stimulation) makes them highly uncomfortable. As a result they would like to be always busy just for sake of it. Their hyperactive nature keeps them glued to Internet reading or writing mails or exchanging messages at social media sites. It can also manifest in many other compulsive behaviors such as aimless eating – and you know the consequences.

In an experiment where subjects were keep in an environment of sensory deprivation, most dropped out despite the fact that they were being paid well for doing nothing! For them boredom meant punishment. This is why solitary confinement is really harsh and is a dreaded condition for many. It is a state of zero social stimulation which can trigger severe anxieties and helplessness.

Many others consciously or unconsciously live in a self-imposed prison that keeps them from trying new things or having new, life-enriching experiences. For them boredom has become a way of life because they are really afraid of doing something different for fear of failing. The comfort zone of boredom is self assuring and provides security. They view failure with fear and horror and end up avoiding activities that they would really like to engage in. For these unfortunate people boredom is merely a side effect of the fear of failure, not the basic issue. Unless their comfort zone is somewhat wider they lead a badly restrictive life.

In extreme form, boredom may produce depression and hallucination. Boredom has been held responsible for anxieties and restlessness that lead to vandalism, violence, educational and vocational dropping out, divorces, and even suicide. You may be surprised to note that for people who are too conscious about using their time effectively, it is the compulsive habits coming from avoiding boredom that throw away any time management efforts.

Overcoming Boredom

Overcoming boredom depends on whether the person is bored because he cannot live without excitement or whether he is bored because he has chosen to remain in a shell of inaction. Life is not meant to be thrilling all the time. If you crave continuous thrills, you need to stop and think when you will quit this irrational lifestyle.

On the other hand, if you have gotten encased in the comfort zone of inaction provided by boredom, you need to muster strength and learn to face the realities of life. You need to get out and start doing new things as frequently as possible, such as talking to new people, becoming a volunteer, etc. Connecting to dynamic and active people will be also helpful.

Finally, think about why devoted monks who lead almost a solitary life don’t get bored. Because their minds are always busy with benevolent thoughts, prayers, and meditation. Why can’t you do it?


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