When boredom strikes, get back to curiosity as fast as you can
Boredom affects us all. In our always-connected world, it’s easier than ever to turn round and feel what could be boredom.
There is no universally accepted definition of boredom says Maggie Koerth-Baker, a science journalist at Scientific American.
“But whatever it is, researchers argue, it is not simply another name for depression or apathy. It seems to be a specific mental state that people find unpleasant — a lack of stimulation that leaves them craving relief, with a host of behavioural, medical and social consequences,” she argues.
Getting into routines can easily bring on boredom. Sometimes, we just live by default without realizing it, and our lives can fall into a monotonous rut.
A study on Boredom in Everyday Life, estimated that 63 percent of us suffer from boredom at least once over a 10-day period. When you are bored, you feel stuck in routine, same old habits, most things happen on autopilot.
What causes boredom? “Your boredom may result from overusing your logical left brain hemisphere and underusing your creative, emotional right brain hemisphere. When you do not balance the use of both hemispheres, you can feel restless and dissatisfied with life,” writes Mason Komay of Better Help.
So how do you escape boredom? Be curious
You can change things up by being curious — try at least one new or uncomfortable thing a month. There is so much to explore, learn, do and experience if you stay curious.
You’ve probably heard of the quote by Dorothy Parker: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” It’s profound.
Curiosity helps you discover amazing things about your life and what you can do now and in the future. Ian Leslie explains in his book, Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It, “A society that values order above all else will seek to suppress curiosity. But a society that believes in progress, innovation and creativity will cultivate it, recognising that the enquiring minds of its people constitute its most valuable asset.”
When you are obsessed with practicality, and efficiency, you leave little room for abstract knowledge. In The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge, Abraham Flexner explores this dangerous tendency to forgo pure curiosity in favour of pragmatism. He writes, “Curiosity, which may or may not eventuate in something useful, is probably the outstanding characteristic of modern thinking. It is not new. It goes back to Galileo, Bacon, and to Sir Isaac Newton, and it must be absolutely unhampered.”
Your instinct to explore should grow into an instinct for inquiry.
The problem for millions of people is that they stop being curious about new experiences as they assume responsibilities and build routines. Their sense of wonder starts to escape them. But you can change that, especially if you are looking to overcome boredom.
Boredom can be a lack of challenge from living in your comfort zone. Setting yourself monthly challenges can stimulate your mind.
There are dozens of things you can do daily to keep your life interesting — start a passion project, take an art class, take a class or seminar you’ve always been curious about, set a new goal in life, or read a book in a genre you don’t usually read.
This week, if you exercise in the morning, start exercising at night, take a long way home and use the extra time to think, try something new on the menu, strike up a conversation with a stranger, commit to weekly acts of kindness, find time to doodle — let your mind wander as you embrace pen and paper, again, figure out what you’re scared of — and do it for 7 days consistently.
You can also switch your morning activities around, or spend at least 20 minutes every day reading or listening to something that is completely unrelated to your career — broaden your mind.
You can easily overcome boredom by seeking growth. Challenge yourself, and become the best version of yourself. Boredom is an opportunity to pursue something that makes you come alive.