Existential Psychology

What To Do When You Are Bored

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Like we have written elsewhere boredom is depression, just at a less intense stage on the continuum, so you want to take the state very seriously and consider what it’s telling you about the practice of your life. You’re probably not getting your deeper existential needs met. The common diversions we use to eradicate boredom aren’t a viable solution or it wouldn’t keep popping up.

If you’re bored all the time it means you’ve started to sleepwalk through life. You’ve replaced the mindful attitude, being present and plugged in, with an attitude of disinterest. If you observe little kids you’ll notice they are never bored, and that’s because they live every moment to the fullest. Young children are mindful without even having to try; they see the miracle of existence in everything, in encounters and activities that adults have started to take for granted.

This article is about what to do when you are bored. Instead of your usual habits, like going to sleep or flipping on the television, we recommend an activity that might jolt you back into appreciating the miracle of your existence, which is what mindfulness is all about. Really being present is a state incompatible with boredom. Go to any public space and people watch for an hour or so, but focus all your attention on the elderly. Consider the brevity of life, how quickly it goes by, how recently these people, now aged and nearing the end of their lives thought they had all the time in the world just like you do now, and how quickly you will be in the same spot that they are.

This activity might sound morbid but no amount of fantasizing changes the inevitable fact that as human beings we all must deal with aging, decline, and finally death. These realities meet us much sooner than we would like to believe. It’s only possible to get bored all the time, in effect wasting the precious gift of your existence, if you unconsciously think you are immune from death, that you have all the time in the world. You don’t want to wait until you’re on death’s doorstep to start really living. And in fact the elderly usually do report higher levels of contentment than the general population. They’ve stopped thinking of life as a rat race and come back full circle to just appreciating each and every moment.