The Good and Bad Types of Boredom

Everyone experiences boredom of one sort or another. It is a part of modern life, and a pretty unfulfilling experience to say the least. What is the point of boredom? Does it help us; hinder us? Our understanding of boredom is not so clear cut. It varies not only from person to person, but from day to day.

Researchers have defined boredom as “the aversive experience of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity.” But boredom isn’t that simple. One boredom is not necessarily like another.

German researchers have identified 5 different types of boredom—indifferent, calibrating, searching, reactant, and apathetic. And each one requires subtly different stimulation.

There is a fear in our culture of being bored. And our hyper-reliance on technology and social media is certainly not helping. So many of us try to keep ourselves distracted all hours of the day with technological band-aids like YouTube and Netflix.

We are so disused to boredom, that when it inevitably happens, many of us don’t handle it well. For some, unadulterated and unpracticed boredom can actually lead to risky and harmful behaviors. However, when handled properly, boredom provides fertile ground to allow your mind to expand and evolve.

Here is the good + bad of boredom:

The bad. For most people, boredom first encourages mindless snacking and tech addiction. We’ve all been there. Nothing to do on a Tuesday night, so you resort to watching television or perusing the internet and turning off your brain. And suddenly you get the urge to crunch on something. Something to excite your tastebuds, since your other senses simply cannot be tantalized. No, you’re not hungry, but your mind and body are craving an interesting experience.

In this way, mindless snacking and technology becomes addictive behaviors, and both have dangerous long-term health ramifications. On an even more serious note, the search for boredom-quenching activities can lead down the path of even more dangerous, addictive behavior, like gambling, drugs, unsafe sex and binge drinking.

The good. Up to this point, boredom really sounds like the pits. But boredom can also significantly boost creativity. Boredom and discomfort are powerful inspirers of creativity, independent thought and action. Time and time again, studies have shown this.

Boredom trains your mind to think outside the box and helps all ages to become more independent as thinkers. This man was bored in the bathtub when he was struck with the crazy idea to row across the english channel in a bathtub. And he did it! Thanks, boredom!

So how do you avoid bad boredom behaviors and keep the good? The secret to reaping the creative benefits from your bouts of boredom lies in practicing mindfulness. While unmindful boredom can lead to overeating and drinking, mindful boredom can be inspirational, productive and creatively charged.

Spend your time doing meaningful activities rather than hour-fillers. Finish that book you put down months ago, write a poem or short story, listen to your favorite album with your eyes closed. Embrace boredom and let it flow through you. Odds are, once you embrace the feeling, you won’t be bored anymore.

What are your solutions to boredom? Do you handle it mindfully? Share your experiences below!

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64 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S22 days ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S22 days ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim V22 days ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim V22 days ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jerome S
Jerome Sabout a month ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome Sabout a month ago

thanks

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heather g
heather g2 months ago

When I'm in a group situation and someone is loud or shallow I'm easily bored. I then have better things to do because I value my time.

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

You're never bored with a good book.

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

Some people seem to have little imagination

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Clare O
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

Thanks

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