Boredom - Little Authors -


Why do we get bored? We get bored when we feel unsatisfied by an activity, or uninterested in it. Boredom may occur when you feel energetic but have nowhere to direct your energy. It may also occur when you have difficulty focusing on a task. But to understand why we get bored, we first need to understand what is boredom.

Boredom is a feeling we do not like, it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant. It happens to us all and its not trivial, right? Boredom occurs when all the options we have don’t appeal to us and not when we have nothing to do. When we are bored, we know that something about that situation is not working for us. When we are bored, it means that less dopamine is being released in our brain and that is why we have trouble paying attention. Every person has a routine, we wake up at a certain time in the morning, hang out with the same people, work the same job, etc. and your brain then easily predicts how rewarding all these activities are because we have done those things so many times in the past. Boredom is characterised by a lack of concentration, restlessness, but also feeling lethargic. It is really a state of being underwhelmed. Nearly about 200 years ago, Giacomo Leopardi, an Italian philosopher, wrote in a letter to his father, “Boredom is the most sublime of all human emotion because it expresses the fact that the human spirit, in a certain sense, is greater than the entire universe.

Boredom is an expression of a profound despair and not finding anything that can satisfy the soul’s endless needs.” Boredom is an imposed state that leaves us to think about ourselves and entertain ourselves with our thoughts, notice things we may have overlooked to take productive actions we might have otherwise put off, like cleaning, writing, or challenging the mind with puzzles and games. The paradox of boredom is that it makes you feel tired, sluggish and just disinterested. Nowadays we can easily put off being bored. It is easy and it doesn’t seem much of a big decision, we just take out our mobile phone from our pocket and browse on apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, Candy Crush, etc. every time we stand in a queue, wait for someone or something, and no place is sacred. But the question is, are we missing out on something important? Should we let ourselves be bored sometimes?

We never let ourselves be bored and we are losing something important, according to scientific research. When we are bored, our mind wanders. The state of boredom is one when
our attention is not focused on anything in particular. This mind wandering is useful for our creativity. We need boredom to think about ourselves, other people, our future, etc. Whenever we are bored, we want to do something, but just cannot find the right thing. The mind thinks of things and what we can do that is appealing and satisfactory. Boredom is both a warning that we are not doing what we want to be or we are supposed to be doing, and a push that motivates us to switch goals and projects and get ourselves moving. Jennifer Schuessler wrote about this in her appropriately titled essay ‘Our boredom, Ourselves’ that “boredom is an important source of creativity, well-being, and our very sense of self.” Boredom is an opportunity to do something meaningful, even if it is an unpleasant activity, and these activities when bored have more value. Being bored is essential for goal setting. If our brain is always consumed with other stimuli, we will rarely ponder the bigger picture. Our brains have thaasophobia, the fear of being idle or being bored, which motivates us to get things done. We need to be creative and hence, bored, to be able to think of our future, ourselves and just for fun, the deep meaning of life; or death. So I say don’t browse your desired apps when you are bored, let your mind wander across its limits.

Boredom may have driven us to accomplish much of what we have accomplished. When bored, we think more and we generate ideas which then we get the motivation of doing and
making them successful; from boredom. Life in itself is not enough for us to not be bored. Arthur Schopenhauer, a renowned German philosopher, said that, “If life possessed in itself a positive value in real content, there would be no such thing as boredom. Mere existence would fulfil and satisfy us.” Our brains need stimulation in order to be healthy, not so that we are much overwhelmed but a perfect balance unique to each individual under which they can perform optimally, with energised focus, what psychologists call ‘flow’. We need the perfect amount of every emotion and feelings like boredom, betrayal, sadness, joy, etc. to be okay. But if at a point you do get tired of being bored, if you need a break from the mind wandering, how do you avoid being bored?

Boredom is an unavoidable aspect of the human experience stemming from our unfulfilled desires and expectations. Constant desires and external pleasures is not the answer as the feeling quickly wears off when once achieved. The feeling of constant desire, expectations and dissatisfaction can be a never ending cycle. We should find contentment in simple pleasures. Rather than searching for new experiences and material possessions, we can discover joy by experiencing the beauty of everyday life. One way to apply this to our daily lives is to spend time in nature. When we are in nature, we get a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Henry David Thoreau, an American naturalist and poet separated himself from the world and started living in the middle of the woods in a cabin near a pond. He said he had nature all around him and what more could a person need. Creation and appreciation of works of art such as music, painting and literature helps us to connect with something greater than ourselves. Art is a person’s way to express themselves which when cannot be done through language.

We should be more focused in the present; in the moment. Boredom arises when we are not fully present and engaged in our surroundings, when we are preoccupied by worries about our future or regrets about the past. The present moment is the only reality we have. The past is already gone and the future is uncertain. We cannot change what happened in the past and we cannot control our future. If we focus on the present then we will be able to experience the beauty of the moment. We should always keep learning something because we will get bored or tired of a particular thing which we once found interesting. Education is a way to enhance personal growth and development. All the distractions we have such as streaming platforms, games, social media, etc. make it harder to
focus on the pursuit of knowledge and that results in boredom. Engaging in a hobby that you enjoy is one of the best ways to overcome boredom. When we are engaged in an activity we enjoy, we are completely immersed in the present and we don’t entertain any negative thoughts.

Cultivating our experiences and finding and developing our interests can lead to self-discovery. So in conclusion, is boredom necessary? Is it okay to feel bored? Yes. To feel all this is only natural and yes, boredom is necessary for us to explore and focus on our future. But we also need to not be bored all the time so that we can enjoy the beauty of life and nature and live in the moment. We need boredom to find ourselves and we need art to express ourselves and a way to understand others

By Aditya Wadhwa

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