Boredom seems to go hand in hand with becoming an adult.
Sure, there are plenty of exciting things that happen, but eventually, you’re going to hit a point at which everything just seems like it’s not worth the effort.
“I want to feel something, as a person. I don’t want to be bored” – Pina Bausch
While pockets of boredom are quite normal, that’s not quite the same as being bored with life. When you’re bored with life, your default state reverts to wondering why you even get out of bed. There’s nothing worth doing, after all, so why bother?
If you want to kick this feeling to the curb, you’ll need to start by identifying what you mean by feeling bored, take a look at what causes boredom, and then find ways to change your life so that you can recapture a sense of excitement.
My Life is Boring
What does it really mean to be bored, anyway?
For many, boredom is a nebulous feeling. It is undoubtedly quite powerful in your life, but it’s not something you always sit down and think about.
If you want to beat boredom, though, you have first to identify what it means to you.
Fortunately, there are some characteristics of boredom that are relatively easy to identify, even if not all of them apply directly to you.
A Lack of Excitement
For some, boredom is really just a lack of excitement. It’s not that there aren’t things to do – in fact, there might be an overwhelming number of things to do – but that none of those things are actually enjoyable.
Boredom tends to strike when life seems, for lack of a better term, normal. Nothing gets your heart racing or your pulse-pounding, so things just seem to go by slowly.
This is the sort of boredom that you might experience during a slow day on the job. You know you have to be at work for a certain number of hours, but time goes by slowly since you’re basically repeating the same patterns over and over again.
A Lack of Opportunity
Boredom can also take the form of a lack of opportunity. You want to do things, but there’s nothing to do. You have all the time and energy in the world, but you have nowhere to spend them.
This kind of boredom, as you might expect, is incredibly frustrating.
The boredom that stems from lack of opportunity is the kind of boredom that will drive you crazy because it’s externally focused rather than being something that you can change from within yourself.
A Lack of Escape
Boredom can also come from feeling trapped in your routine. You’re not bored because there’s nothing to do or nowhere to go, but rather because you’re stuck doing the same things over and over again.
Whether you’re working at a job you hate or you are stuck at home on a Friday night because you are broke, boredom caused by feeling trapped is hard to fight. After all, the only way you can get out is by changing how your life works.
The Root Causes of Boredom
Now that you can better identify the types of boredom that you experience, you can start figuring out a way to banish it from your life.
Not bad, right?
To get there, though, you’ll need to start identifying what’s causing your boredom in the first place. There are not just situational causes, after all – you’re going to be looking at biological issues as well. You can’t attack your boredom until you can get to its root, and doing so might require doing a little digging into your own psychological profile.
An Issue of Aging
Yes, your age can actually play a huge role in feeling bored. Studies have shown that individuals in their 20s often feel profoundly uninterested.
While most think of their 20s as a time for adventure and experimentation, the truth is that it’s also a time of being pulled in many directions and can be a time of feeling like you’re without a purpose.
If your boredom stems from the stage of life you’re in, you’ll have to figure out what it is that’s causing the trigger. Whether it’s family obligations or not finding your dream job, you’ll have to learn how to pivot in a way that brings the spark back into your life.
Falling into a Rut
Boredom can also be caused by getting complacent. People spend an awful lot of time trying to get to a point at which things are stable, and once there they don’t know what to do with themselves. Boredom sneaks in because individuals find themselves so devoted to their own routine that they can’t escape.
If this is at the root of your boredom, you’re in luck – there are plenty of methods you can use to get out of this kind of position. They’re not always easy, but you can break out of that routine with enough effort.
The environment can also play a role in why you are bored. It’s incredibly possible to be bored not because of who you are but rather because of where you are.
Honestly, you might not be a good fit for the place where you live. Your interests might lay elsewhere, or the housing in which you find yourself might not lend itself well to the things that actually excite you. Sometimes, fighting boredom is as easy as giving yourself the ability to put down roots in a place that’s more your speed.
Depression vs Boredom
As a final note, it’s essential to notice the difference between depression and boredom. While the latter can be fixed by taking some of the steps listed here, the former is a real psychological condition that can absolutely color the way that you see your life.
A little introspection can go a long way towards differentiating the two, but you must consider help if you feel like you are dealing with depression. Don’t make grand changes to your life that aren’t going to fix your underlying issues with depression – doing so can actually make things much worse.
At some point, you’re going to want to figure out creative ways to get past the boring parts of your life. Fortunately, doing so can be easier than you imagine.
This isn’t to say that it won’t involve making yourself uncomfortable or that it’s not going to take a lot of work – it is. You’ll be surprised, though, by how obvious the changes seem once you get done. You have everything that it takes to make yourself feel less bored with your own life, so it’s time to get started.
“There is something more terrible than a hell of suffering – a hell of boredom” – Victor Hugo
Identifying the Problem Areas
The first step is looking at the list above and figuring out why you’re so bored in the first place. The methods for beating boredom that work for one type of boredom aren’t going to work for the others, so spend some time soul-searching.
Yes, this means that you have to be honest with yourself. That’s not always so easy, but it is a necessity.
Write out a list of the things in your life that seem boring – and no, you’re can’t just write ‘everything’. This is going to help you as you move on to the next step.
Knowing What You Need
Now that you’ve worked on identifying the problem, you can look at that list to determine what’s making you so bored. If you are bored because you are overwhelmed or have too much going on, for example, you’re going to look at solutions that help you to deal with those issues.
You’ve got to know what you need before you can start applying yourself to the problem of eliminating boredom, so don’t feel bad if it takes you some time to get there. Missteps are also a very real possibility, but you’ve got to start applying yourself if you want to make any progress.
Life Change vs Adventure
The next step is to figure out if your problem is something that’s going to require a life change or something that’s going to need an adventure.
The former requires an entire reorganization of something in your life. It’s getting a new job, finding a new relationship, or moving to a new city. Making a life change means taking a look at what’s going on now and realizing that you aren’t going to be happy until you make that change.
An adventure, on the other hand, comes from the realization that you’re happy with your life but that you just need a quick jolt of excitement. An adventure can be as simple as going out for a night on the town or as complex as a long-term trip. In either case, you’re going to look at coming back to a life that’s much the same as the one that you left behind.
Recontextualizing the Problem
It’s not a bad idea to take some time to re-contextualize your issue. Saying that you feel bored might be accurate, but it’s not necessarily all that you need to know. If you’re feeling bored with life, take a minute to determine if you’re really bored with everything or if there’s one thing, in particular, that is really bringing you down.
Saying my life is boring isn’t always the best way to solve a problem. You might want to re-contextualize your boredom as feeling a lack of purpose, a lack of excitement, or even a lack of fulfilment. Those things all tend to feel like they are a little easier to solve.
How to Make Changes
Now you know what it means to be bored, what can cause that boredom and the kind of mental foundation you need to lay to get rid of boredom. Now’s that hard part.
Now you need to start putting in the work.
It’s always a good idea to start with a game-plan, even if your goal is to be a little less bored. Yes, a list can make your life less boring – who knew?
Make yourself a checklist of all the things you’re going to do to make your life a little less boring. Start with the small things and work your way up. Check off items as you finish them, and feel free to put the list away if you’re successful. This list will provide you with guidance if you wind up getting frustrated or feel like you’re not making a change in your life.
It’s rarely a good idea to go huge with your initial attempts to stave off boredom. Instead, start by making small changes. If you feel like your job is a major contributor, don’t immediately change fields – try taking on a new task or even switching up your hours.
Small steps are good because they don’t disrupt your life quite as much and because they’re great at helping you identify where the big problems occur. If a small change isn’t making you less bored, you know that there’s a deeper problem that familiarity in play. If nothing else, you can think of taking small steps as a method of testing the waters of change.
Making the Shift
If you find that the little things aren’t adding up, it’s time to make a significant shift. Go back and consult your list of factors that were making you unhappy and figure out which ones haven’t changed. From here, it’s time to make a big jump.
Don’t take a big step recklessly. If you feel like you need to move, make sure you have a job lined up. If you want a new career, don’t leave your current job until you’ve got an offer elsewhere. Don’t, however, be afraid to take the leap once you have your safety net in place.
Not everyone will benefit from making substantial life changes. With that said, it may well be your only way to break out of a rut and get to where you want to be. Make sure that you’re realistic about what you are trying to change and that you’re willing to acknowledge the risk that you’re taking. If you’re not ready to step out on a limb, though, you might never become less bored with your life.
Sticking the Landing
Once you make your changes, you should stop feeling as bored – at least, for a little while. The sad truth is that an injection of novelty can eliminate many feelings of boredom for a little while, but those feelings can come right back if you haven’t done a good job of identifying the underlying problems.
Your goal in fighting boredom shouldn’t be to stay happy for just a few minutes – you want to keep on a path that will reduce your overall level of boredom. As such, you’ll want to take a few steps to make sure you actually stick the landing.
Stay on the Right Path
Fear is a reasonably common companion when you’re trying to shake up your life. It can be really easy to go back to bored and safe. If you’re struggling enough that you’re making life changes to get away from the boredom, though, you need to find ways to stay on the right path.
Take some time to reward yourself for taking a risk. Look at how your life is changing for the better, and then think about how you can keep going in the same direction. It’s not guaranteed to be an easy road, but it should be one that gives you a more fulfilling life.
Looking for Warning Signs
It’s an excellent idea to keep looking for warning signs that you’re falling back into the same old patterns. If your issue was that you had fallen into a rut, you’re not out of the woods just because there was a change in scenery. It’s incredibly easy to go back to old behaviours after the novelty of doing something new has worn off.
For many, this means being a little more self-aware. If you catch yourself doing the things that caused you boredom in the past – avoiding socialization or working too late, for example – you need to stop and figure out how to break the pattern before it settles. You definitely shouldn’t shake up your life only to force yourself into the same old habits again.
It’s absolutely normal to feel bored from time to time. If you are feeling bored with your life, though, you can take control and shake off that feeling. Identify why you are bored and what you can do to make a change, then put in the effort to give yourself a better life. While it can be scary to leave behind the kind of safety that boredom brings, you’ll end up happier once you decide to take a chance.