We all get bored. But did you know people who are often bored are at greater risk of anxiety, depression, and drug or alcohol addiction? Boredom is an internal state and not being able to adequately control your internal states and emotions can lead to seeking external stimuli and novelty. Looking externally for ways to solve internal problems is often a lost cause and can lead to thrill seeking behaviours like gambling, smoking, drinking and drugs. For example, a 2005 study of 92 Scottish teenagers found that boredom was amongst the top reasons for taking drugs.
People who are predisposed to boredom also tend to be socially awkward and are poor performers at work and in school. Some research has also hinted that proneness to boredom may be linked to ADHD. So being bored in some areas of life can means you’re less likely to succeed in others, such as your career or studies.
A person’s ‘level of attention’ (an aspect of conscious awareness) plays an important role in boredom. By improving your ability to focus you decrease the chances of becoming bored in general and suffering the negative impacts it can have on life.
Emotional awareness and control is also important in combating boredom. People who can’t understand their feelings and those who become sucked in and distracted by their moods are more prone to boredom for example. Any training or activity that brings you more in control of your feelings brings you more in control of your happiness.
The Boredom Proneness Scale was developed by psychologists Norman D. Sundberg of the University of Oregon and Richard F. Farmer of the Oregon Research Institute. A high score suggests you get bored easily; a low score indicates you are not prone to boredom.
Take The Test
Score each statement from 1 if you strongly disagree to 7 if you strongly agree
- Score the statements marked with an * in the reverse direction e.g. 1 = strongly agree; 7 = strongly disagree
- A score of 4 is neutral
- Add all of your scores together
- It’s easy for me to concentrate on my activities*
- Frequently when I am working I find myself worrying about other things
- Time always seems to be passing slowly
- I often find myself at “loose ends”, not knowing what to do
- I am often trapped in situations where I have to do meaningless things
- Having to look at someone’s home movies of travel slides bores me tremendously
- I have projects in my mind all of the time, things to do*
- I find it easy to entertain myself*
- Many things I have to do are repetitive and monotonous
- It takes more stimulation to get me going than most people
- I get a kick out of most things I do*
- I am seldom excited about my work
- In any situation I can usually find something to do to keep me interested*
- Much of the time I just sit around doing nothing
- I am good at waiting patiently*
- I often find myself with nothing to do, time on my hands
- In situations where I have to wait, such as in line, I get very restless
- I often wake up with a new idea*
- It would be very hard for me to find a job that was exciting enough
- I would like more challenging things in my life
- I feel that I am working below my abilities most of the time
- Many people would say that I am a creative or imaginative person*
- I have so many interests, I don’t have time to do everything*
- Among my friends, I am the one that keeps doing something the longest*
- Unless I am doing something exciting, even dangerous, I feel half-dead & dull
- It takes lot of change and variety to keep me really happy
- It seems that the same things are on the TV or movies all the time
- When I was young, I was often in monotonous and tiresome situations
How did you do? It’s not all bad; some commentators say that mild and not too frequent bouts of boredom provide opportunity for thoughts and reflection. It can also be an indication that something simply isn’t worth doing! In a Canadian study by clinical psychologist John D. Eastwood and his colleagues, the average score was 99 and the “normal” range (into which two thirds of the population fell) was 81-117.
Solutions for boredom
The opposite of apathy and boredom (as described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) is the state of ‘Flow’. Flow is the state of effortless attention, being totally focussed. It’s also known by athletes as being “in the Zone”. And in Neuro-Semantics terms, is known of as the “Genius” state.
The latest research suggests that combating boredom means finding focus, living in the moment and having something to live for (hmmm, pretty much sums up Self-Actualisation really).
Having no distractions has been shown to make tasks less boring. Studies have shown that having a TV on in the background whilst reading a book can make the book seem less enjoyable and more tedious.
Mindfulness Training is gaining popularity in educational, office and medical settings. Mindfulness training is basically a modern version of traditional meditation and self-hypnosis. Basically just the practice without the ‘woo-woo’. Learning how to slow down and focus on breathing whilst becoming aware of your body and surroundings allows you to focus on the ‘now’, to live in the moment and let distracting thoughts pass freely by.
In February 2007 psychologists at the University of Melbourne reported that a 10-day mindfulness training course improved the performance of novice mediators on tasks of sustained attention and working memory as well as diminishing rumination and symptoms of depression compared to novices who did not receive training.
Mindfulness and Self-Hypnosis are great ways to reduce stress, increase focus and even start to re-programme your mind to think, and behave, in much better ways.
From a Neuro-Semantic point of view, generating wonderful Meanings is great for overcoming boredom, increasing ‘Flow’ …and leads to a Self-Actualising life.
So, how did you do in the test? And what ways do you use to stave off boredom? Leave a comment below.