The old saying goes, “Only boring people get bored.” Of course, I wonder when was the last time you were truly bored? Don’t you knock it back with a smart phone, a good book or even pleasant company? I know I do.
Can boredom actually be a motivator?
Andreas Elpidorou is an assistant professor in philosophy at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. In a piece on Aeon, he equates boredom with physical pain and argues both instill a desire for change.
Think of boredom as an internal alarm. When it goes off, it is telling us something. It signals the presence of an unfulfilling situation. But it is an alarm equipped with a shock. The negative and aversive experience of boredom motivates us — one might even say, pushes us — to pursue a different situation, one that seems more meaningful or interesting, just as a sharp pain motivates us not to put pins into our bodies.
I wonder if another way of staving off boredom is to start paying closer attention to one’s surroundings. Standing in line can be an opportunity to scroll through social media or it can be one for focused concentration and observation.