I grew up in a household that stated “boring people get bored” so it was a bit of an incentive to never be bored (so I wouldn’t be boring! – oh the mind of a child). Looking into boredom a little more closely, I realize that it is associated with tedium, monotony, and challenge (lack of it actually). When teenagers are ‘bored’ sometimes they really feel that way because of the repetitive pattern of their lives (and it also could be brain functioning – more about that later), yet often it is used out of context. Growing up, with all its ‘firsts’ and the pressures of peers and school work and extras, boredom may be misused to cover up some seemingly more dangerous emotions (like anger, jealousy, sadness, confusion, etc). Moving beyond the teen years, our frantic but sometimes straightforward lives may bring up the feeling, “I’m bored” – so I’ll challenge myself to discuss the mind and boredom and introduce some new options for dealing with this valid emotion of ennui.
Perception of Challenge
The mind is a funny thing. Each of us is imprinted with experiences, attitudes of others and educational, social and societal inputs. What may be easy for one person, may not be easy for another. Standing up and speaking for hours feels second nature to me, while to others it may be a nightmare. It seems that we all find our challenge at different times or places. As a result, some things might be non-challenging or boring to you that wouldn’t be for me and vice versa. So it’s actually a very personal thing.
One exception, however, is in the teenage mind. Brain studies have shown that the teen mind sometimes doesn’t register the ‘middle ground’ of excitement – so something that is mildly exciting or challenging doesn’t really come up on the mental screen. This may be one of the reasons why teens tend to exaggerate or take part in more dangerous or risky behaviours – just so it comes up on the scope… hmmm. While some of the suggestions below will still work for teens, just remember that sometimes an overstated, rather than understated approach, may be more relevant (and successful) for them.
What Excites You
Remember that the feeling of fear is often quite close to the feeling of excitement. One tends to be associated with dread or something bad happening, while the latter tends to be linked to positive anticipation. We’re talking about the latter.
What gets you going? When was the last time you were energized and excited? Was it a thrill like a roller coaster, or a new experience like a trip or learning something? Because the mind works by association, you can use an isolated experience to explore other possibilities. Just take a moment to yourself and allow your mind to wander to positive and exhilarating experiences from your past – it might be recently or maybe back when you were a kid. Whenever it may have happened, focus on that good feeling and where it is in your body – you’ve located your excitement central. Then, with great curious and gentleness, explore aspects of the experience to see what might be transferable to your life now. It may not be obvious, and sometimes the peripheral aspects of one experience highlight a central focus possibility for the future. Is it out/indoors? Is it with others or by yourself? What are some of the associated feelings that stem from that action(inaction?)… When you explore it, you may discover something that really lights your fire – and may be something to explore for the future.
Doing the One-Two, Knee-To…
Also known as the “want to, need to”. Often as adults we mistake need to for want to. There are things we ‘have to do’ which often get in the way of what we want to do. Sometimes as we get older, we forget what we really want for ourselves as we find our place within the functioning of another group – corporate world, family etc. While we work hard to get the resources we feel we need to get what we want, we seem to de-prioritise what we want… bit of a catch-22, right?
Actually, figuring out what you want can be scary. What if you aren’t good at doing what you want, what if others don’t agree with or like you doing what you want, what if doing what you want means that your life has to change from what it is now? All big questions. And there may be as many ways to achieve results as stars in the sky, but here are a few suggestions:
- Are there different ways of getting the feeling? While riding on roller coasters everyday may not be possible, is there something else you can do that gives you the same feeling? I know that commuting on my bicycle gives me a thrill (and a little bit of fear) similar to a ride. It may not be the same for you, but this is about you, isn’t it? Be creative – don’t restrict yourself.
- Are there some ‘need tos’ that are no longer needed? Sometimes we can be ‘busy’ but not engaged. I know that sometime we get involved with groups that, at the time, were important to us but have become burdens rather than energizers. Looking at the web a great way to keep or drop commitments in our lives are by asking three important questions. Do I have time to do it? (time can be a limited and valuable resource) Am I the right person for the task? (not just the only person…) Does this fit with my personal goals and objectives? One no, question it. Two nos, find a way of getting out of an earlier commitment if you can…
- Do you deserve to get what you want? This may seem like a silly question, but many of us, because of mistakes in our past or patterns from our history, question whether we are ‘good enough’ to get what we really desire. While we may feel responsible for our errors in the past, I challenge you to take a greater view on your responsibilities in the present, for the future. As Marianna Williamson is quoted, “your playing small does not serve the world”. So when we become role models for getting what we really, truly want and need, “we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”
I just read a magazine that said that helping behavior makes you less likely to snack – for anyone counting calories, it seems like as good a tip as any! Actually, many studies of involvement on a larger level than yourself reveal positive benefits – mentally, physically and emotionally. When we support others, get involved (without losing ourselves), we can experience, more fully, the human condition. Which – depending on your perspective – can be expanding, disheartening, terrifying, soul-supporting… anything but boring. When we share with others and allow others to share with us, our self-focused languor tends to dissipate. We see something bigger than ourselves, get out of the rut that we may find ourselves.
As a play on words, I’ve recently been bored (sic) certified… Actually after over 10 years of working in hypnosis and hypnotherapy, I have become Board Certified with the National Guild of Hypnotists. A better kind of bored in my opinion…