BOREDOM SEEMS like a minor problem, but
it's really more important than you might think because boredom
is a miserable, debilitating state somewhat similar to depression.
And because it is negative and unpleasant, it is probably not
good for your health or your relationships.
Beyond that, trying to avoid boredom often
causes people to do all manner of stupid, self-defeating, counterproductive
things just to relieve the unpleasant experience of boredom.
Trying to make boring tasks less boring is a worthy goal.
Most people in most situations don't have
to be stuck feeling bored, even if they are doing things they
find boring. Below are some high quality ideas you can try right
away to start making your chores more enjoyable.
1. Make the task more challenging. Sometimes you can simply speed up, and it makes
the task more challenging (and take less time). You can't do
this with all things, but it's great for the kind of physical
tasks that don't require careful movements.
Moving more quickly is just one possible
way of increasing the challenge. Doing a better job, or doing
the task more efficiently (less wasted movement, organizing your
activities more), or listening to a lecture on CD while working
all of these can add a more challenging element to a dull
2. Use a comparison reframe. The human mind naturally and quite automatically
compares our circumstances to something else usually something
better. In other words, "This task is boring compared to
going out to dinner with my spouse or watching a great movie."
Which is true.
But it is ALSO true that this task is really
FUN compared to starving to death, running for your life in terror,
or dying of some horrible disease.
may be saying, that's certainly true, but...
And I say, "But nothing! It
is true. And it is equally valid (and more justifiable) to compare
your task to something much worse than to compare it with something
better." And when you do, instantly the task is less irksome.
You can make a comparision reframe any
time you wish, and it always works, never wears out, and (unfortunately)
never lasts for long. But then again, a good meal doesn't last
long either and that never stopped us from eating!
more about making comparison reframes.
3. Make a game out of your task. To make a game, you need rules and goals. For example,
let's say you're grocery shopping, which you normally find boring.
This time, however, you make a game out of finding bargains.
You try to get everything on your shopping list while at the
same time trying to beat your record of saving money.
At the bottom of the receipt, let's say
it says, "You saved $29.50." That's your best record
so far. Your game is to try to beat that record.
Automatically a task is less boring when
it has become a game.
There is nothing inherently fascinating
about running back and forth or putting a ball into a circular
piece of metal. But add some rules and goals, and basketball
can be very fun and not at all boring. Why? Because those rules
and goals make it a game.
Next time you're doing a common and boring
task, think about how you could make it into some kind of game.
Can you compete with someone or with something? Can you add a
goal or a rule that would make it more challenging? Think of
something and try it out.
4. Have a strong purpose in life. With a clear, important purpose, everything
in your life is less boring, including what most people consider
When you feel you are going somewhere,
and when you feel your goal is important, your important purpose
casts a new and vibrant feel onto a lot more moments of your
You may already have an important mission
but have forgotten it, or maybe you have just not thought about
it in awhile. It is very common to get bogged down in (boring)
details after pursuing a goal for awhile. The signifcance of
the goal gets lost in the day-to-day effort to accomplish the
many steps you need to accomplish, as well as all the other mundane
but necessary tasks of maintanance and survival.
Fairly often, it is important to step back
and remember what you're doing and WHY. Remember its importance.
It makes a difference.
And if you don't have a purpose that is
important to you, finding one should now become your most important
purpose, and you should pursue it with commitment. It will transform
the quality of your life. No kidding.
5. Recognize your choice about the boring
tasks. Almost everything you do
is actually optional. And yet almost everything you do FEELS
like something you HAVE to do. And there is a huge difference
emotionally between doing the exact same thing, but knowing you
WANT to do it, versus feeling you HAVE to do it.
But you and the rest of our culture have
done a very good job of convincing you of all the things you
HAVE to have, do, or be. Yet almost none of them are really a
On the other hand, most of them are something
you really would CHOOSE to do if you had to choose them over
again. For example, I feel like I HAVE to exercise. But I really
don't. That one is pretty obvious. But I also feel like I HAVE
to have a car, so I HAVE to maintain the car and pay the insurance,
But I really don't HAVE to have a car.
I really don't. And neither do you.
However, I really WANT to have a car, and
while I am thinking of it this way, the maintance on the car
doesn't seem quite so distasteful and I feel less grumbly about
This one is not a cure-all, but it helps,
and it is the truth. Next time you're feeling grumbly about a
routine, boring chore, think about this one. Acknowledge the
truth: You really don't HAVE to do it. Think about what would
happen if you didn't. Think about what you would choose to do
if you had to choose (taking into account the consequences you
If you choose to do the boring task, it
will feel less boring now that you realize you want to do it.
6. Meditate every day. Meditation is a mental-training exercise. While
it has been associated with some religions, the exercise itself
is not religious and needs no religious associations to do it
An enormous amount of research has been
done on meditation and it is, without a doubt, one of the best
things you can do for your health and sense of well-being. (Read
more about that.)
But for our purposes here, meditation can
make your everyday boring tasks signifantly less boring. For
one thing, meditating calms the inner agitation the inner
feeling of impatience that is at the heart of the experience
Another important side-effect of meditation
is the simple contrast between meditation and normal everyday
boring tasks. What is normally considered a boring task is much
more interesting than the unbelievably boring task of sitting
there with your eyes closed repeating a single word over and
over. The contrast between the two is vivid. After meditating,
even very boring tasks are not boring at all.
But you also get a kind of psychological
training when you meditate the process trains you to find
even this ultimate boring task endlessly fascinating and challenging.
And that training spills over into the rest of your life. Much
less of your life will seem boring.
THOSE ARE my top six suggestions. I also
suggest you choose the one that most appeals to you at the moment
and really give it a good try.