Becoming More Engaged In Life
How to Beat the Boredom Blues
Have you ever found yourself with time to kill, and having no better idea, you default to one of your electronic devices? Whatever you’ve resorted to as your "something to do," before long you're kicking yourself because a couple of hours have unbelievably vanished. Or maybe other times you're paralyzed in endless thoughts of having nothing to do, which makes you feel like time is dragging. You're BORED. Feeling bored can be unsettling, tiresome, frustrating, depressing, and more. But maybe being bored isn’t always bad. After all, it’s merely a state of mind, right? Boredom comes only with those rare occasions we can actually choose what we do. So much of our time is already spoken for—work, family obligations, domestic duties, etc. Perhaps we should view boredom as a gift—a finite amount of time that belongs solely to us. If you've asked, "What can I do if I'm bored?" keep reading.
Understandably, no one likes to be bored. And although overcoming boredom may seem as easy as just finding something to do, it's not always the case. The key—the necessary first step--is to choose to take some kind of action. If you dislike being bored and prefer to be more engaged in life during these less decisive moments, you must make the decision to break out of the ennui.
Many of us default to one of our electronic devices. If that’s your first action, your second step is crucial. Typically, social media and games are less engaging than we'd like. How about a virtual adventure instead? Consult your bucket list, make one, add to it, or work on it. How about looking further into that dream vacation you'd love to take? Look up pictures, read about the culture, peruse hotels and airfare. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn another language or to become a certified scuba diver. There are many steps between making a bucket list and fulfilling it. Not so inspired to dream big at the moment? Take a look at what’s going on around you. Is there live music somewhere, a performance at a local theater, or a restaurant you haven’t tried? Something may interest you enough to get you out the door. But it’s a cold, rainy day, and you really don’t feel like being around other people. Maybe it’s a good afternoon to look up that book you've been wanting to read or to finally get around to researching your family history.
For those of us who have the device default, we need to choose an alternate first step. Physically get up and take one. If walking about your surroundings doesn’t change your mood, then change your surroundings. Often when we perceive ourselves as bored, we aren’t motivated to do much physical activity. Go somewhere, if only to sit—the park, a coffee shop, the library, your front porch. Grab a bag and throw in a book, a notebook, a pen--and if you must--your smallest device, and go. Who knows when you might be inspired to draw, write, doodle, or to look up a word or an old friend? Just remember, if you’re trying to avoid the devices, don’t use one in your typical manner. (E.g. Don’t text an old friend; use your phone to call instead.) Simply changing your surroundings brings about different stimuli and opportunities.
Ok, so it’s not the lonely type of boredom you feel. You’ve got your best friend, your partner, or the usual suspects with whom you grab drinks or a workout. Maybe you’d benefit from new and different relationships. This isn’t to say you must ditch your boyfriend or stop hanging out with the group at the gym. Perhaps you just need to expand your circle. One, very meaningful way to do this is by volunteering for something, even if it’s only for an hour. Serve at a soup kitchen, be a "big brother" or "sister," or start more simply by planning some random acts of kindness.
But what does it really mean to be engaged in life? What makes you feel more fulfilled or satisfied? Those who deeply examine their core beliefs--who soul search and continually develop and attempt to live according to their beliefs--seem to be among the most fulfilled and/or engaged in life. It's more about the active participation in living and learning more according to those beliefs, than just merely having the beliefs. When you choose to stop learning and growing, you stop living.
What are you passionate about? What fills you with boundless energy and enthusiasm? Answer these questions from an innate, somewhat selfish perspective. Sex or a loved one of any kind can't be an answer. If you can tap into what moves you and allow it to be a part of your life regularly, you'll naturally become more engaged in, and add meaning to, your life.