Redefining boredom (and feeling better about yourself)

Down-to-earth disciplines change your mind about very boring tasks. The source of your emotions is not what you do, it’s what you think about what you do.

“You may be obliged for some time to do what you do not like to do, but you can make the doing of it pleasant by knowing that it is making it possible for you to come to the doing of what you want to do.” — Wallace D. Wattles


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This quote from “The Science of Getting Rich” says it all. The source of your emotions is not what you do, it’s what you think about what you do.

One can walk and think nothing of it. Another, who has just recovered after an accident, and can finally walk after months of rehabilitation, would be overjoyed to walk.

No boring tasks

The same goes with boredom. In reality there are no “most boring tasks” on this planet. There are only the ones you consider as such. So, you don’t need to motivate yourself. You need to reframe your thinking.

Unfortunately, despite our intellectual capacity, human beings are terrible at changing their thinking patterns.

“There is no labor from which most people shrink as they do from that of sustained and consecutive thought. It is the hardest work in the world.” — Wallace D. Wattles

Wallace had a gift with words, didn’t he? He was right on spot. Mental laziness is our default state. We let our subconscious mind lead our lives on autopilot.

You label something ‘boring’ in your head and you are perfectly fine with it. You don’t ponder why it is so. You don’t challenge this thought. You go about bitching about your fate and necessity of doing the most boring tasks. This is what you always did.

A wake up call: and you always will, unless you don’t pour in some mental effort to change the way you operate.

Solution: The labor of thinking

When I found a question about boring tasks and motivation on Quora and ruminated about it I was amazed to discover that I’m never bored! I didn’t shrink from the labor of thinking and I developed a skill of sustained and consecutive thinking.

Whenever I’m sentenced to doing a truly boring task, I escape into my mind. I can pray, ruminate, visualize, meditate or generate ideas around the clock. Give me pen and paper and there is no way I would ever be bored.

It’s not that I don’t deal with mundane tasks anymore. Usually, I don’t think about them at all. I am present inside my head while lifting my kids to school, doing the dishes, laundry or scrubbing the toilet.

Sometimes, I do think about them, but never in a negative way. Whatever I do around home, I know it is an act of service for my wife. This is her love language and she appreciates (even if she veeeeeery rarely articulates it) every small household chore I do.

See? It’s not the task itself, it’s what you think of it.

“Boring” is in your mind

OK, I lied. I’m sometimes bored with my day job. But it’s my fault. The job itself is terrific.

It’s one of the biggest corporations in the world. The project I’m involved in demands high responsibility. The system we support works 24/7 and is crucial for the operation of a national airline.

The team is amazing. The client’s team is great. It’s a pleasure to work with them. I work only quarter -time, so almost all the ridiculous corpo office politics doesn’t touch me at all.

It’s just I have much better things to do and I dwell on that fact, instead of the perks of my job.

And I complain in my head: “Heck, why I’m doing this? I should be sending emails to my prospects and do the things I was meant to do, not this crazy corpo stuff.”

It is exactly this: complaining. I have easily 60 more hours in the week to do all I could do to serve my readers and customers to the best of my abilities.

And I am not doing that. My day job is not the obstacle, it’s just a hurdle.

In the end this is what boredom usually sparks inside of us — idle bitching. We don’t do the boring stuff at hand. We wish we were somewhere else doing something else. It’s a flat-out waste of time and mental energy.

Don’t try to pep talk yourself into doing the boring tasks. Think of those tasks and your role differently.

Hence, dealing with boring tasks requires mastering control over your thinking. Nothing less. Nothing more.

Self-awareness

First, you need to develop the skill of knowing how you feel, why you feel that way and follow the wild train of your thoughts running through your mind. In short, you need some self-awareness.

Mental autopilot is your enemy. Boredom is a function of automatic subconscious processes that convince you that you are not in the right place and doing the right things.

It’s easy to say “become more self-aware.” However, we are absolutely terrible in this. 99.99% of population in 99.99% of time goes mindlessly through their lives. This is our default state.

So, instead of murmuring mantras or trying to ‘feel the universe’ I have some down to earth daily disciplines for you to grow your self-awareness.

1. Emotional Check

Set a reminder (or better yet, a random reminder) on your mobile to ask you a few times a day: “What do I feel right now?”

That’s it. Let yourself become more aware of your current emotional states.

Don’t overthink: “Oh, I don’t know…” Of course you know! Who should’ve known if not you!? You are the person in your skin.

Answer with one-two words the question and move on.

2. Meditation

Nope, it’s not magical. Close your eyes. Inhale deeply. Focus your attention on the air flowing through your nostrils. Exhale slowly. Repeat once again.

That’s meditation.

Is closing your eyes magic? Maybe breathing is somehow woo-woo for you?

Those are the very basic functions of your body. Put together, they create an activity called meditation.

And meditation works like nothing else to increase your self-awareness. You meditate for a couple of minutes in the morning and then you catch yourself several hours later slacking at your job or complaining or mulling over some minor resentment toward your spouse.

3. Journaling

Processing your thoughts on paper has an amazing clarifying quality. Whenever you need to put your thoughts on paper they stop being a cloud of hazy emotions and exclamations and became a message.

I firmly recommend journaling every day. It has an effect similar to meditation- you start to become self-aware of what’s going through your mind not only at the moment you journal, but also while living your life.

You can process your internal issues- including boredom- so much better on paper than in your head. When you do it only in your mind, you are led by the train of your thoughts and emotions. When you put something on paper, you can be in charge.

4. Reframing on paper

While journaling is mostly pouring your soul on paper, I also recommend performing more focused writing exercises once in a while. When boredom strikes you regularly write down what bothers you. Analyze what’s the core issue.

Brainstorm reframing exercises on paper. If emptying the dishwasher exasperates you, you can think it’s an act of service for your wife 😉

5. Right Questions

Your brain is a gigantic search engine. Google is a small puppy next to your brain. Your focus determines what kind of information your brain will look for.

Focusing on boredom won’t solve your problems. The whole ‘Google in your head‘ will be occupied with boredom. While it’s necessary to ask yourself from time to time what exactly bores you or why you are bored by this specific task, plenty of your brainpower should go to finding solutions.

Use questions often that shift your focus AWAY from boredom:

  • OK, I’m bored with… how can I reframe this?
  • What excites me? What do I like doing?
  • What ticks me? Why do I like doing this? What’s so special about it?
  • How can I bring this feeling into doing mundane tasks?
  • How can I do more exciting things and less of the boring stuff?

Don’t ponder the problem to death, focus on finding the solution.

Fight!

Invest your time and effort to eliminate boredom from your life. Master a skill of sustained and consecutive thinking; it will deal with 90% of your problems with boredom.

Embrace self-analysis habits. Without a higher level of self-awareness you won’t ever get out of the boredom’s clutches.

I assure you this effort is well worth it. Boredom is a terrible destroying force. We are creators. Boredom means there is something wrong with us. It triggers the urge to get away which often ends in bad places.

For years, the mix of boredom and hopelessness in my life was a trigger for unhealthy habits: excessive fiction reading and playing computer games. I wanted to get away from my purposeless life and I escaped into fantasy worlds. Boredom was robbing me from my potential.

Once I found dreams worth pursuing, boredom almost evaporated from my life. And my potential disengaged rapidly.

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” — Jim Rohn

Living on autopilot you have no chances against boredom. Everything starts from self-awareness. Once you notice your thoughts and emotions, you can reframe them.

Now go! Start developing those self-analysis habits.

This article originally appeared on Medium.


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