If you’re often bored, scientists say you’re at greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, drug addiction, angry and aggressive behavior, a lack of interpersonal skills and poor performance!
And a recent study shows that boredom undermines satisfaction (read: happiness) in relationships, which can make grass on the other side of the fence appear greener than it actually is and ultimately weaken your commitment. The seven-year itch is no coincidence or myth.
If your boredom is based on droning circumstances, you can change them by doing something that enlivens you. If routine is sabotaging your relationship, you can grab your sweetheart and do something that engages both of you. And don’t wait … because the longer you’re bored with circumstances, the more likely you are to get bored with life in general.
So, what if you’ve already crossed that line? Look at when you became disinterested and why. Look at the desires you have repressed and the goals you have given up.
When you’ve lost touch with what rouses your passion, you can find yourself indifferent, with no sense of direction or purpose. It’s like wandering around aimlessly with no compass or destination. With that picture in mind, it’s easy to see how boredom can lead to depression and anger.
Now look at what you want. Maybe you can’t win your childhood sweetheart back, but there’s something you can do now that will light up your eyes. You can go back to school, you can walk the beach, you can find another sweetheart.
Just thinking about it is a start, especially if you’re an introvert. Extroverts tend to look for more external stimulation — that’s why they’re generally more prone to boredom.
Introverts are more apt to entertain themselves in their minds. They’re more likely to contemplate their own thoughts and feelings. And if you understand what you’re feeling and why, you’re less apt to get bored. Understanding leads to acceptance, rather than temporary escape in sensation (or even thrill-seeking).
“I believe that one should be able to sit like a Buddhist monk in complete silence and yet not be bored — and to find within the inner mind, the life, the entertainment and the growth,” says Norman D. Sundberg, emeritus professor at the University of Oregon and expert on boredom.
Sundberg may seem idealistic, but when you fail to find satisfaction within, it eventually becomes impossible to find it without. Your senses become insatiable.
Case in point, the more you rely on the TV, computer or video games to amuse you, the more it takes to stimulate you. Ratings that reach XXX, virtual societies and new generations of games — along with escalating time in front of the screens — all point to the need for more, and the risk of addiction.
Mindfulness — a calm awareness of being, not doing — helps. Why? Because you bring your attention to the present moment. And in the present moment, there is enough. You lack nothing … but boredom suggests a lack, a lack of interest, stimulation and enthusiasm, without which growth is stunted.
In meditation, you find a path to knowing what’s inside. In other words, you get back in touch with what you want. Only, you’re not anxious; you’re at peace.
You don’t have to get caught up in the aimless wandering, or the doing, or a virtual society. You can simply be who you are. And, as it turns out, there is nothing more purposeful or exciting than that!