Do You Feel Bored?
Have you ever felt bored? We all do on occasion! But the real question is do you feel bored most of the time?
Reading research can be boring in itself, so I apologize for asking you to do just that. But, if you are interested in this topic, and wonder if you are suffering from boredom, this updated research may help you understand this often misunderstood state of being.
What Fuels Boredom? Researchers, led by York University professor John Eastwood, set out to better understand the mental processes that fuel feelings of boredom.
They found that attention and awareness are keys to this aimless state. After reviewing existing psychological science and neuroscience studies, they defined boredom as “an averse state of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity,” which arises from failures in one of the brain’s attention networks.
In other words, you become bored when: You have difficulty paying attention to the internal information, such as thoughts or feelings, or outside stimuli required to take part in satisfying activity; you are aware that you’re having difficulty paying attention; and you blame the environment for your sorry state (“This task is boring”; “There is nothing to do”).
“At the heart of it is our desire to engage with the world or some other mental activity, and that takes attention,” Fenske said. “When we cannot do this —that seems to be what leads to frustration and the averse state we call ‘boredom.’”
The researchers hope their new definition and theoretical framework stimulate new research to help us better understand boredom and how to ease it and otherwise address its potential dangers.
Many of my clients complain of being bored, when in fact something else is going on with them. Some of the simple but important questions that I ask them, and that you can answer yourself, are:
Do I push myself to do outside activities, or is it easier to just sit?
Am I willing to put time into my friendships, or do I wait for others to reach out to me?
When is the last time I tried something new?
Do I have a favorite pastime that requires my attention and concentration?
Do I like to exercise or at least am I willing to push myself to exercise?
Do I tend to want to eat carbohydrates (also known as comfort food) vs. protein?
Do I stay up late and snack?
How long have I been feeling this way?
Give your answers some serious thought. If your answers lead you to believe you are suffering from boredom, and you medical doctor has no other explanation for your feelings of lathery and your overall disinterest in life, then you need to seek a licensed therapist to help you.
Therapy can help you identify and determine the reasons for what you are feeling and can be key to working toward correcting the problem. As the research suggest, your state of boredom may be caused by something that can be corrected.
So, why not take charge and refuse to accept that you have to remain bored. Make a conscious decision to make positive changes that will allow you to improve and liven up your life? YOU ARE WORTH IT!
**Fenske joined U of G in 2007. In 2010, he published The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success, cowritten with Harvard Medical School psychologist Jeff Brown. This new work also involved Alexandra Frischen, a former postdoctoral researcher of Fenske’s, and Daniel Smilek of the University of Waterloo.