Boredom and living well

I’m doing some research for one of my upcoming books. The research is on attentive and non-attentiveness. I came across a website supported by the University of Waterloo (how cool is that, I wish I could say I graduated from the University of Waterloo), on inattentiveness and boredom. Here’s a statement about boredom:

From the website:

Leary et al. have defined boredom as “an affective experience associated with cognitive attentional processes” (Leary, Rogers, Canfield, & Coe, 1986). What this means is that boredom primarily arises not so much from a lack of things to do, as one might expect, but due to one’s inability to latch onto any specific activity. Quite simply, nothing engages us — despite an often profound desire for engagement.

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I’ve done some writing on boredom in the past; not to mention my first hand research of being bored. It’s the last sentence in that paragraph that really jumped out at me. Boredom is painful for two reasons: First, the lack of engagement is difficult because every option seems worthless. Second, and maybe more challenging, is that boredom often includes the deep desire for engagement in something meaningful. It’s a one-two punch.

Boredom can be a good thing if we see it as an early warning system that something is awry in our living or thinking. Overcoming boredom requires a kind of flexible focus that is hard to initiate but easier to sustain once you’ve engaged it. I think I’ll write more on this in upcoming posts….stay tuned.

 

2009-03-17T16:56:52-04:00

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Written by Dave Fleming