Faced with boredom, this is what you could do

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When you’ve got plenty time on your hands, you can suddenly find yourself facing boredom. It can be a terrible experience.

Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about the boredom you find listening to self-promoting people at conferences on sustainability, energy efficiency, greening the planet, and making a difference. Nor am I talking about EU trade negotiations or the communist-inspired bills that are debated in this society.

Boredom can creep into our lives at any stage. I recently met a man in his early 40s who was having a stumbling block in mid-career. He couldn’t go anywhere further. His job had become boring. So he enrolled in a life-drawing class.

There are many other examples of people who find themselves in a situation where they are not receiving enough stimulation. A retired university professor recently wrote a poem on boredom to while away the hours.

Boredom can lead to poor personal behavior. I have found that some men turn to drinking. Boredom leads them to the pub. A man I knew lost his job at 50 with a bank. He was driven to drink and eventually lost his car. This accident woke him up and led to him moderating his behavior.

Another man had a high-paying job in the Middle East. He turned 60 and couldn’t find more work. This led him to drinking to such an extent that he even neglected his personal hygiene.

This is not to say that men always start drinking because of boredom. That would be a generalization, but often men do turn to drink. It starts off with going to the pub and socializing, and then it becomes a habit.

It’s also difficult to generalize about what happens to women when they have a life change and find themselves bored. Some, it seems, turn to overeating, or some eat very little and become anorexic. But as I say, it’s unfair to generalize.

Boredom is a state in which there is inactivity. This inactivity, some say, is similar to death. You find yourself in a static situation, and this is not good for the mind, body, or soul. A person requires stimulation to be fulfilled and happy.

Without stimulation, depression sets in and boredom also results in low self-esteem. This is more or less a psychological explanation. It probably sounds right because boredom begins with frustration and perhaps a search for what to do with yourself. But the longer you are bored, the more inactive you become. It snowballs and soon you find yourself sitting around doing nothing. If you don’t get fed up with yourself, you start getting upset or irritated with others — even to the point of starting arguments and being belligerent towards them.

I don’t have any special advice on how to alleviate boredom. There are many people who will and can advise you. There’s plenty of information on the internet.

I think what I can suggest is that the solution lies with you. It depends on your temperament, your interests, your inclinations, and the stuff that gets you fired in life. Basically, your, to coin a cliché, passion.

I’m not so sure about people saying that you have to get creative and innovative. These terms are often meaningless and put people off.

I think a more gentle approach would be to ease into things slowly, discover things in yourself or about yourself that you wanted to do when you were young or couldn’t afford. Now you may have an opportunity to learn something and socialize with people you enjoy being with. There are probably several avenues that you can explore.

Remember that even if you have a passionate hobby or other pastime that you do on a regular basis, you will still have times when you are bored.

You will need to manage these in-between times. It’s all about knowing yourself and your moods. For example, some days we are out of kilter and feel depressed. We just have to deal with it knowing that it will pass. And as things change during the course of a day or the next day, you’ll start to get excited about doing something. It’s not possible to be simulated all the time.

There is also a need for quiet time, to read a book, to go for a walk, to clean up or pack away things in your house. Life is multifaceted. Over-stimulation can also leave you downbeat after your high, so you need to manage the ebb and flow of your moods as well.

Remember too, that when you try out something new, it’s going to be exciting in the beginning, but as you progress, there will be challenges and maybe obstacles, so you need to handle times when you are not making the progress you thought you could make.

Other times you may feel elated that you’ve produced something or done something wonderful, but as they say, you can only get good at something if you practice through repetition. Some of this practice and repetition is boring, and you have to be able to delay gratification. Once you’ve put in the practice, then you will bear the rewards or fruit of your energies or labor.

I leave you with a last word from Matt Furey:

When you think big,
you stumble on every twig. 
When you think small,
you realize you can have it all. 


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