Why We’re Bored (and how to fix it)
Here we are in the 21st century. Life is good. We’ve got every convenience known to man and more ways to be entertained than ever before.
We have more disposable income than any generation to ever live and more ways to connect with others than we ever thought possible.
There’s only one page ripped out of the story book ending: the last page. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t living “happily ever after” and we don’t walk dreamily into the sunset (in fact, most of us don’t go walking much at all, never mind to watch a sunset).
The paradox of our generation is that, despite a million things screaming for our attention…
Take a look around and you’ll see that we’re not just bored, we’re bored to death. Every morning, millions and millions of real life zombies crawl grudgingly out of bed, stuff there face with some variation of high-fructose corns syrup and processed grains and then drive off to another day of dead-end work that pays them just enough money to convince them they’re not actually slaves.
If I seem troubled, it’s because I am. I won’t stand by and watch people I love and care about live mere shadows of the lives they are capable of living. I can’t stand to be looked in the eye by people who care about me and told that my dreams for a better life are unrealistic.
If you’re interested in getting to the meat of life, read on. If you’re convinced that we should suck it up and deal with the cards we’ve been handed, this post isn’t for you.
Is your mental diet killing you?
The boredom we face in modern society isn’t the “I-don’t-know-what-to-do-next” variety, although the overwhelming host of choices we face can sometimes leave us paralyzed with indecisiveness. The boredom we live with is the “nothing-seems-to-excite-me-anymore” type. Otherwise known as “all-flowers-are-a-drab-shade-of-gray” boredom.
It’s a result of consuming a diet of quick fixes and cheap thrills for far too long.
In the same way that simple sugars spike your energy levels and then plunge you into utter lethargy, a diet of simple stimuli leaves you down in the pits far more often than it dishes out handfuls of happiness.
For example, when you go out and buy something like a new car, or the latest gadget, or an expensive meal it produces an immediate high. The pleasure center of your brain releases the “feel good” chemicals that reward your behavior in a big way.
The gaping void of boredom
Soon enough, the high wears off, and the newness of the car fades, and the expensive meal is deposited where everything you eat eventually ends up. Then, as your happiness crashes back to previous levels, you’re left with a gaping void between the happiness you currently feel and the happiness you know is possible.
That gaping void is boredom. It’s the distance between the excitement and pleasure of simple thrills and the yawn-worthy reality of normal life.
And it gets worse; each time it takes even more stimulus to replicate that same experience. Soon, buying a $0.25 plastic ring doesn’t cut it, you need the real deal. Or one sexual partner isn’t enough – you need the excitement and scandal of two or more to cure the boredom.
How to live without boredom.
Well, that might be a tiny stretch. You see, we’re humans – imperfect and living in a broken world. I don’t think perfection is ever a realistic goal.
I do, however, think that we can make gigantic leaps of progress. With a healthy diet, you can live longer. With a good education, you can become more knowledgeable and learn to apply that knowledge. And with the right lifestyle, you can greatly reduce boredom.
The key is to consume a diet of balanced, quality thrills. Instead of cheap thrills that spike your happiness and then let it crash immediately after, quality experiences are building blocks that increase happiness and encourage future growth.
Buying a flashy car is exciting, but it doesn’t actually increase your quality of life. Reading a good book is rewarding in the here and now because it lets you relax and be entertained, but it can also make you a better person and fuel more growth in the future.
If you’re in a boredom funk, invest some of your time into these high quality (and rewarding) thrills:
1. Take measures to eliminate debt.
2. Write a letter… for yourself.
3. Go for a walk.
4. Plan a surprise for someone you care about.
5. Start your own minimalist business with no overhead.
6. Gather some friends and play a game (outside or inside.)
8. Take calculated risks.
9. Learn to speak another language.
10. Travel the world.
11. Watch a sunset (or sunrise.)
12. Pare down your belongings.
13. Volunteer your time to help someone.
14. Be inspired by photography.
15. Disconnect from technology.
16. Sit down with friends for a long meal.
17. Start a blog and share your passions.
19. Expand your mind.
20. Slow down and enjoy life.
The gist of it —>
Like most good things in life, you won’t get very far without discipline. In order to cure boredom you will need to consciously choose activities that promote growth and increase the quality of your life in the same way you have to choose the right foods in order to stay healthy.
One of the most amazing discoveries I’ve made in the past several months is that I already have everything I need to be happy (and not be bored.) That’s why I’ve become such a passionate supporter of minimalism – we don’t need more things to improve our life, we need to cut out all thing things that distract us from what’s important.
If you find yourself bored… STOP dead in your tracks.
The solution is all around you.
Be grateful for warm sunshine, the friends you have, your health, gorgeous sunsets, and the awesome potential of life.
Don’t turn to cheap thrills that won’t improve your life, add to your experiences, or help those around you. Choose something from the list, anything…
Go. Make a difference.
The editor of Ethical Living, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.