Boredom

I haven’t written a post in quite a while. Again, I felt there wasn’t really anything to write about. However, today I found something worth pondering about; boredom.

Boredom is such an interesting state of being. When you’re bored you feel the need to do something. But it’s not just any sort of thing. Pushing a rock up a mountain only to let it roll down and do it again is not going to fix your boredom (well, more on that later). You need to do something that is interesting.

This is where figuring out how to deal with boredom gets more complicated. Not only is boredom guided by a person’s likes and dislikes, it’s also guided by the amount of time someone spends doing a task. What will cure your boredom may not cure mine. You might really love painting your nails to cure it but I might really love pushing rocks up mountains. I mentioned above that boredom is also tied to time. You might really love doing nails, but doing it for a full day is probably not going to work out very well. There is no novelty. (Of course, I am assuming here that you are doing the same design over and over again.)

Another interesting point is that when you think of people’s boredom cures, you can almost be sure that the cure wont be rolling a rock up a mountain. A cure has to be constructive in some way. By the way, take the word constructive in a very loose sense. I don’t mean that it has to be innovative or groundbreaking. It merely has to be something a person can get better at. An activity that can be developed. You can fix your nails, and get better at designing them. You can better your gaming strategies. You can can become better at writing. You can read and learn more.

I’ve written a bit now, and think I know what boredom arises from. It seems to be the lack of development. It doesn’t matter if the thing being developed is trivial in a holistic sense, we seem to love developing a skill. Well, I should preface that last comment by saying that some animals seem to express signs of boredom.

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2 responses to “Boredom

  1. I enjoyed reading your own boredom remedy.

    Good point about subjective preference for what alleviates boredom. Also about the diminishing returns, when a fun task itself becomes boring.

    I think the concept of skill development–or, at least, skill use–is much like the concept of flow, one of several types of ‘happiness’, in the psychology sense. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29)

    However, I think people also do non-skill-focused activities in order to combat boredom: sex, alcohol, food, vicarious escapism (tv, movies, books), etc.

    These, save for some forms of escapism, seem to arrive at diminishing returns far more quickly than flow activities, and the type of pleasure is usually more visceral.

    So, there are actually many forms of combating boredom, including ones I didn’t mention. With, I believe, differing levels of quality and effects on self-cultivation.

    Anyway, I definitely think boredom is simply the acute feeling of wanting to do something that you like to do, but for some reason has let much time lapse without finding or doing it. Most people don’t feel bored because there isn’t a big-enough lull. What’s interesting is to ask what people are doing so much which doesn’t permit boredom to arrive. Those are usually activities which people thing make them happy, or are ‘duties’. But what are those, why, and should they be different? Answer me that.

    • Your response really got me thinking. First of all, I had forgotten about non-developmental boredom-killers like eating, sex and the rest. More importantly, I think you bring up a great point about a possibility of there being good and bad boredom-killers. I think I have to admit that some of b-k’s we have in our pockets and our computers are of the “bad” kind. They are quick fixes.

      Also, I did want to add that there are “visceral” activities that may be developmental in an indirect way. For instance, having sex while in a monogamous relationship is, once in a blue moon, about developing that relationship. In terms of books and movies, there are some that have been made are to enlighten. They may give you an insight about yourself or the world around you. Something to note here is that watching a movie or reading a book over and over again may be boring no matter how enlightening whereas having sex with your partner may not have as much of a diminishing return if the relationship is being developed.

      Anyways, stay tuned for the next instalment, I think that you will like the topic. I related to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
      All in all, boredom is an interesting part of our psyche. Stay tuned for the next post, I think it might be interesting. It’s on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

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