- So why does boredom happen?
- People miss in different ways
- What's going on in a bored person's brain?
- How to stop getting bored?
"Boredom is the second most repressed emotion after anger." - Sandy Mann, psychologist and author.
Today we will dive into the topic of boredom and try to understand what an evolutionarily important purpose this emotion serves and why it is not always worthwhile to get rid of it right away.
Modernity has brought us scientific and technological progress, adding more clarity to the understanding of the world of technology and rationality in everyday matters. But the existential problems of mankind remained unresolved. Boredom, which has become a "disease" of the new century, sparkled with interest for its study in psychological, scientific research circles. Of course, this does not mean that the issue of boredom has just begun to be dealt with. As about the sin of despondency, or Acedia, it was spoken of in late antiquity. As a disease of the body and a person's ability to subtly feel the world, boredom was denoted by melancholy in the Renaissance.
"That which alienates a person from the search for God and distorts values" - this is how Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher of the 17th century, spoke of boredom.
Boredom is an important emotion, or rather a feeling that holds a huge potential resource within. Boredom grayizes the mood, adding to it irritability and anxiety. Boredom can flow into dissatisfaction, and from it into disgust. One of the scientific definitions is that boredom is an unsatisfied desire for satisfying activities.
So why does boredom happen?
Like any emotion, boredom also has a function. By making us feel uncomfortable, boredom encourages us to react to circumstances, to look for ways to expand and exploit our environment.
A person who is constantly in one place becomes psychologically and physically vulnerable, and boredom appears as a factor that makes you change your place of stay, motivates you to explore new horizons in the name of getting rid of it.
Just like in ancient times, a person was forced to constantly move during the hunt so that the predator could not detect him and, instead of getting prey, he did not become prey himself. Which means that the evolutionary goal of boredom is to preserve life.
Boredom can appear due to the inability to control what is happening. Remember long lines - you don't like it, it is not always controllable, and if you have nothing to turn your attention to, it can get boring.
An important fact is that boredom objects have the ability to persist for a long time in our brain and cause irritation even when there is no longer any reason for it. Think of boring subjects or individual books from the school curriculum, dislike can live in our perception for years.
People miss in different ways
Twentieth-century German thinker Martin Heidegger gives examples of three forms of boredom:
- When you are bored of something. The state of confinement in a certain interval between what is and the person's expectations about a future event.
- "Free floating boredom." A state of boredom with oneself. A more subtle form of boredom.
- Faceless boredom. A mysterious and deep state, denoting the closure of opportunities, the sameness and indifference of things around, like emptiness, giving a call to return to oneself.
A little later, in 2006, a researcher from the University of Konstanz in Germany, Dr. Thomas Goetz, put forward a theory of boredom typification, expanding the concept of emotional arousal in this process:
- Indifferent (indifferent) boredom… More like a relaxed state, when a person allows himself to be inactive, being in a good mood.
- Calibrating boredom… A slight negative attitude appears and the excitement for action grows, although the scales of the scales fluctuate between "so good" and "what would be done like this."
- Search boredom… Emotional arousal rises, as does the level of negative perception of what is happening. I would like to do something, but it is not clear what exactly, because of this, irritation appears.
- Reactive boredom… A bored person begins to feel unhappy, can be aggressive and wants to change the conditions in which he is at all costs.
- Apathetic boredom… As a separate species, it was isolated relatively recently, in 2013, although according to the results of experiments, it turned out to be the most frequently tested by people. It is characterized by low arousal and aversion to what is happening. The state is close to depressive.
What's going on in a bored person's brain?
At first glance, there are no significant differences from the brain of a person who is at rest and the brain of a bored one. But a small "but" still exists. With boredom, the activity of the anterior cortex of the islet of the brain, which is responsible for analyzing the environment, decreases, therefore, the involvement of a person in the processes of vital activity from the outside decreases.
When it's boring, time drags on like rubber. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for the perception of time. Researchers have found that people with damaged frontal lobes are more likely to be bored and take risks.
- after completing boring tasks, the level of creativity in the participants of the experiment increased;
- there was an increase in associative thinking - a process associated with innovative thinking, the establishment of new contacts between ideas, thoughts and reactions.
It is also true that the participants in the "boring experiments" were so intolerant in this state that they preferred an electric shock rather than staying for another 10-15 minutes in "doing nothing"!
Although boredom in the literal sense does not die, the influence of longing on human behavior can lead to an increased desire to consume alcohol and drugs. Eating disorders and an incessant desire for entertainment of varying degrees of danger may appear - unprotected sex, gambling. The tendency to violence and aggressiveness is growing. Indirectly, boredom can become dangerous for your own life and the lives of people around you.
A year-long experiment to simulate life on Mars, which NASA staged on a slope near the sleeping volcano Mauna Loa in Hawaii, showed that the participants were most difficult because of the feeling of boredom.
As a result of surveys of residents of Italy in 2020, due to isolation in quarantine, in the second place for the mention of unpleasant emotions, was the feeling of boredom. This worried people even more than losing their jobs.
How to stop getting bored?
It's not the boredom itself that matters, but how we react to it.
Perhaps you should think about what need is currently not being met? What do you want from life? Perhaps you shouldn't immediately get rid of boredom, because self-reflection can bring invaluable gifts of knowledge of existential joy just for you.
But still, if necessary, there are methods that will take your boredom away.
Top 3 ways to stop being bored:
- Find what you like and do it. If we are talking about a new hobby or hobby, scientists advise looking for something that combines ease and complexity in order to be able to choose levels and not overload the psyche.
- Physical activity. Sports, yoga, swimming, jogging and walking. This is a good option, almost always.
- Communication. The feeling of real belonging to a group of people gives strength and joy to life. The depth of communication with friends and loved ones will erase your boredom in an instant, just be ready to open up.
The search for new meanings, a variety of experiences, new acquaintances - all this also adds brightness, taking away boredom and dissatisfaction.
Being bored is an unpleasant experience, but it also has tremendous potential. It is worth seeing, if you are bored, what exactly does this mean to you, what is the foundation at the heart of this feeling? Either it is a situational mood that occurs due to a loss of control and rejection of life processes, or a deeper existentially-colored impersonal force that can both lead away from the goal and give direction to your actions.
After all, we always have a choice of how to react to emotions - to succumb to an unconscious momentary tide or to remain in the wisdom of understanding what is happening at the moment. This is the power of the development of emotional intelligence, which is so necessary for a high-quality social, personal, professional life of a person.
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