Getting Interested in Boredom

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With his new e-book on the topic just out, Evan Hadkins asks: can your own boredom actually be interesting, and what can we learn by paying attention to our boredom?

One of the less spectacular parts of our lives is boredom. It isn’t usually dramatic; it isn’t despair or rage. It is just quite ordinary. And so we tend to overlook it.

What is it like to be bored? It isn’t being tired. If it was being tired we could rest. It is not focussed activity either. It’s a curiously active inactivity — agitated, and so energetic in one way, but with little direction.

Boredom is a mixture. It isn’t focussed activity; it doesn’t even have the focus of frustration. And it isn’t resting either.

When I begin to contemplate this mixture I find that boredom becomes interesting. I start wanting to distinguish the different parts of my boredom: What is the activity I want to do? What is the rest that I desire? What is stopping me from being active? Why don’t I just take a break?

I have found that this process of examining my boredom, teasing out the different parts, has lessons for me. I have learned that sometimes I need a walk around the block to clear my head; sitting at the computer, even if I stop working, just isn’t as good. I have learned, when bored with my journalling, to let my words flow with all the emotion and energy I have (even if no one else sees them).

I would like to know if you find yourself bored much. I would like to hear what boredom is like for you. Perhaps you would like to tell me if you have learned anything from your boredom — and if so what. I look forward to hearing your comments.

I have recently written an e-book called How to Cure Boredom, which is now available for download. Sarah Luczaj, another contributor to this blog, has been kind enough to review the new e-book. (See .)

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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