Some interesting insights about ‘feeling bored’!

Dr Shrirang Bhakle gives us the reasons and suggestions in tackling this feeling that is plaguing today’s generation

An old dictum: How to make an interesting novel boring? Put it as a compulsory reading in school or college!

A parent enthusiastically tells the child, “Sachin uncle and Pooja aunty are going to visit us today evening along with their kids!” The child frowns, “Oh, no! They are so boring. I will be wasting two hours of my life.” When you go work each morning, do you feel happy that you will be doing something interesting – or do you feel that the work is so boring but you have to do it in order to earn the salary?

Feeling bored is an integral part of our mental life. A lot of our activities and efforts are spent for avoiding boredom. Is it just a normal passing phase – or can it be a sign of a problem such as depression? Or is it a good motivation for us to become creative and do something good? What are the reasons for boredom and how can we overcome it?

It is definitely true that one major reason for boredom is our attitude. There are three kinds of attitudes towards boredom. The first is the Anti-Boring Attitude (also known as Enthu / Humourous Attitude). The people who have this attitude never get bored. For them, every activity is interesting. Or they find a funny angle to look at what is obviously a boring activity. Or they amuse themselves with some side fun.

The famous humorous writer of yesteryears, P G Wodehouse, was imprisoned by the Germans in World War II, when he was nearly sixty years of age. At that age, when he was already a famous and popular writer, he was given the horrible duty of cleaning the prison toilets. But his humorous spirit would not get dampened by the ugly situation. He kept on cracking jokes and describing the situation in a funny way. These funny descriptions were broadcast by the Berlin Radio. It almost leads some crazy British people into thinking that P G Wodehouse was actually having fun in the German jail! So much so, that these people started saying that he had defected to the German side and should be called a traitor!  There cannot be a better example of a strong attitude triumphing over the –not just boring – but horrible situation.

The opposite attitude is the BASA –“Boring Angle Seeking Attitude”! The people who have this attitude will find something boring in the midst of many interesting things. These people, when faced with a lavish wedding dinner spread, will manage to find some salad which is salty – and hence boring! Of course, the star players in this BASA team are the kids who find all home-made food boring, all books boring, all cousins boring and even the gifts they receive boring!

Then there is a third attitude IASHS –TYAB Attitude (“I Am So High Standard – That You Are Boring” Attitude!) The persons with this attitudefind it below their dignity to laugh at jokes which make most people laugh a lot. “What stupid jokes you like”. The flip side of this coin is that “Your joke was so boring”. As a result, these people remain bored most of the time. They are never happy with the dresses they buy because “the brands I prefer were not available in that (lowly) mall”.

Boredom isn’t always bad. One possible good side-effect of boredom is that it can spark creativity. You must have experienced this. A bunch of kids get together to play as usual. But then someone says, “It is so boring to play the same thing again and again.” Others reluctantly agree. Now what to do? Then the creative side of their minds starts working. Soon they create a new game (or a new modification of an old game) and have a lot of fun!

School or college studies can be considered to be the winner of the “Most Commonly Boring Activity” competition! There are many reasons that make it boring. As described above, compulsion has the property of making anything boring. Long hours of studying also are responsible. Seemingly repetitive activities make it boring. There is one another hidden reason that can make studies boring: if a kid has not understood a topic or subject, s/he will find it boring. Parents and teachers should look for this reason when a child finds a particular subject boring.

It is important to realize that “feeling bored all the time” can be a symptom of depression! Some people with depression don’t feel sad overtly. But they ‘lose interest’ in doing activities that they used to enjoy earlier. They may say that nowadays they find all those activities ‘boring’. The key to differentiate between ‘normal’ boredom and this boredom, is that the same activities that seemed interesting earlier, now seem boring – and nothing seems interesting.

Reading long articles can also be very boring. So before you get bored, let me stop writing…!

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