“A person who rarely gets bored, who does not constantly need a favorable external environment to enjoy the moment, has passed the test for having achieved a creative life.” (Mihály Csíkszentmihályi: Flow)
I used to be someone who very easily got bored. “Mother! Mother! What should I do now?” – would I say most afternoons after classes of elementary school. “-Read a book. Have you played your hour on the computer? Play LEGO!” Then, after a while: “Stay put, just do anything.” Then: “Okay, watch some TV.”
In most of human history boredom had to be considered something good. You can only be bored when your deficiency needs are met. You are not hungry. You are safe. You belong. You have enough prestige. You sit back and you are bored. It almost sounds perfect.
In most of today’s world the formula is the same.
“- I’m being payed when I have nothing to do and I’m bored.
– That’s really cool. Are they hiring!?”
But as health is not merely the absense of disease, happiness is not merely the lack of unanswered deficiency needs. Boredom is not good. We all know that. And not only us, most people know that who want anything from you, let them be politicians, marketing people or writers.
Boredom, just like entropy is a most natural state of the human mind. Something that could be pleasant but is not.
The fact that boredom is not pleasant might be one of the important motivations of the human race: a strong, basic reason to reach higher.
People get desperate to get away from boredom. We play with our fingers, buy things from fancy clothes to travel packages, form relationships, learn languages, torture others – and indulge in almost any other human activity. We often pay money to avoid boredom. Even though boredom, just like happiness is something happening within us.
What to do to get rid of boredom?
The answer is easy: take up on a challenge!
If the challenge is too big, you’ll feel anxiety. If it’s right, you’ll feel the flow. (Read my review here about Csíkszenmihályi’s groundbreaking book!)
At age 5 I loved watching TV. At age 11 it was interesting. At age 15 I decided never to watch TV again. It bored me.
At age 11 I would read any book that was at home on the shelves. At age 22 I filtered them out a bit. Nowadays I read those that are connected to my goals and topics of interest.
At age 15 I thought the coolest thing was to drink myself to excess. At age 25 I liked drinking a lot once in a while. Nowadays drinking until the morning seems wasting valuable time.
3 years ago I wanted to write about my thoughts. Last year I wrote articles in every possible topic that came to me, one post a day. Nowadays I like to write articles about human behaviour and self help. In 5 years I might have a way more clear picture of what I want to write and research about – or I will have given up writing for a new idea that keeps me in flow.
The only key rule how not to feel bored? DO NOT SETTLE, EVER! (as Steve Jobs said: Stay foolish, stay hungry!)