July is considered National Anti-Boredom Month. The idea is to identify what “makes” you bored and devise ways to combat it. The problem, from a Choice Theory® perspective, is that nothing can “make” you bored. If you are experiencing boredom, you may want to ask yourself, “What is this boredom doing for me?”
Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I was bored other than some long-distance memory when I was a kid. I seem to remember bothering my mother with the idea that I was bored and had nothing to do. Looking back, it’s obvious, I was using boredom to get my mother to provide some entertainment for me. Sometimes that worked and other times it didn’t.
As an adult, boredom may be similar or different. As a counselor and coach, I teach that stop-doing plans don’t work. Combating boredom is not going to reap the rewards this anti-boredom day hopes to achieve. It would be better to define what is the opposite of boredom and work toward accomplishing that.
The opposite of boredom is excitement, so the question becomes, How can I experience more excitement in my life, even during routine tasks? Is it possible to be excited about brushing your teeth, making your bed or doing things you don’t want to do? I think it is. It may not be the wild and crazy kind of excitement you crave, but certainly you can at least get to satisfaction.
Boredom tends to occur when you don’t have anything you are looking forward to in the immediate future. It can also happen when you have lots to do but none of it is anything you really want to do.
When you are younger, boredom may be a problem of exposure—you haven’t been exposed to enough opportunities to develop a list of things you enjoy. You may have plenty of outdoor activities but don’t know how to occupy yourself on a rainy day. You may have things you love to do in the summer, but struggle during the winter months. If the problem is exposure, make i a goal to try something new each week. Talk with your friends to see what they enjoy, join groups that have outings, notice adults in your life and what they enjoy, pay attention to books and movies to get ideas for things to try.
If you are an adult and often find yourself bored, check the following:
Have you bought into the childhood rule that you can’t play until your work is done? Build in some fun every day, even though your work isn’t done, or you won’t have any fun until you retire. Alternatively, seek work that ignites your passion. When you do, you will never be bored again.
Are you a connection person who doesn’t like to engage in enjoyable activities unless you can share them with someone? You need to meet more people. Get involved in activities designed to meet others, such as networking groups, community organizations or sports leagues to name a few. As you meet people, learn about the things they enjoy doing and make friends with people interested in things you also like to do.
Is your life filled with things you think you have to do but don’t want to do? Get in touch with the reason why you do those things you have to do. Once you know the reason, you will realize you do want to do those things for the benefit. If there is no benefit, then stop doing it.
Do you struggle to find joy, or at least satisfaction, in the regular things you do? Mindfulness can help with this. In your mundane tasks, focus in on what you are doing and get all your senses involved. Experience the pleasure of a job well-done.
Are you prone to depression or anxiety? This can be a bigger problem than what I am saying here but the solution involves taking control of your thoughts. Anxiety is caused by fearful thoughts of potential threats in the future. Focus your thoughts in the present. Depression is caused by regrets from the past and a hopelessness about the future. Accept your past as a page that has been written. You don’t get to edit it but you can turn the page and write the next page. You have the power to create it to be whatever you want.
Do you believe you don’t deserve to be happy? People have a happiness setpoint. There is a comfort zone of just how happy you are comfortable being. If your setpoint is low and you exceed it, you will automatically do something to bring you back into your comfort zone. Being bored can do that. Work to raise your setpoint by affirming your right to be as happy as you can be.
Are you uncomfortable alone with your thoughts? This can happen when you believe your value is in your busyness. You may have been conditioned to believe that you must constantly be busy to make life worthwhile. Start with just five minutes of sitting still with nothing to do and relax into it.
Stop trying to combat boredom and instead, address the boredom at its core to increase the contentment in your life.