I don’t actually remember the last time I was bored. I have participated in activities I found uninteresting, attended seminars that dragged, and spent hours on something after which I definitely wished for that time back. But I don't actually remember a prolonged state of helpless boredom. Even throughout my childhood memories, I remember always feeling like I had an option for something to do.
Boredom seems to me to be the feeling that nothing is engaging me in this moment and I don't know what to do with myself. Maybe I don't remember childhood boredom because I didn't linger in that state. I have always had a vast imagination, so I'm sure as soon as boredom struck I just disappeared into a colorful and stimulating world of my own creation. I'm suspect I don't feel prolonged boredom now as an adult because I always have a backlog of things on my to-do list. Running my own business means my work is never-ending, and I have a mental pile of potential personal projects that would reach outer space if I stacked it up in the real world.
I also have many hobbies and many causes I care about. I have wondered from time to time if one reason people feel bored is because they don't have big enough problems to solve. According to scientific experts in the matter of boredom, I am kind of right. It makes a difference whether we feel like we're "being an effective agent in the world." When we are not having the impact on the world we would like to, in creeps that familiar sensation of irritating restlessness known as boredom.
I think it is equally possible some people are stuck because there are too many problems in the world that need solving. And since it's impossible for one person to tackle them all, it could be difficult to know where to begin. Decision paralysis is a very real phenomenon, but it seems like something quite different than boredom. Maybe some of us are just looking in the wrong places to resolve our boredom. Many of the suggestions for how to beat boredom seem like nothing more than escapism to me.
Trying to avoid a lack of meaningful participation in the world around me by scrolling through social media or binge watching Netflix certainly doesn't fill me with a feeling of agency and inspiration. I think the most important reason I don't suffer from boredom is that I have cultivated a practice of engaging with myself. I spend hours each week doing nothing more than sitting with myself through my Taiji practice. Any time I am void of other stimuli, I can just breathe and experience whatever sensations presently occur in my body.
According to those experts, boredom is helpful because it pushes us to act. The action we take is, of course, up to us. And since there is no one-size-fits-all cure to boredom, we each have to figure out for ourselves what our void is before we can begin to fill it. It turns out we have to explore for ourselves what we want to engage in. Something we should be doing in any case. The good news is: it doesn't matter what you are doing. It only matters whether it matters to you.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.