Which of These Excuses for Boredom Do You Use?

03/06/2015 14:44 BST | Updated 01/06/2016 10:59 BST

It always makes my ears itch when someone says "I'm boooooooored!" If I'm honest, I'd love to know what that feels like. But I'm a busybusybusy girl. I've always got stuff to do. I need about 362 hours in every day and the list of ideas, thoughts, interests and possibilities just keeps growing.

I've discovered that the more I learn, the less I know. The more cool stuff I hear about, the more I want to investigate. The more minutes and days that fall behind me, the more precious the remaining ones become and I want to fill every single second of every single day with something useful, something interesting, something creative, something fun, something meaningful. The only way I might get to experience a little boredom is if I stick it on my list of Stuff To Do.

When my children were young, they'd come to me every now and then, shoulders drooping, face hanging on the floor, sulking with that familiar old dirge, "I'm boooooooooored!" I'd list countless options for them. Indoor games. Outdoor activities. Everything from puzzles, to reading, to making puppets, to painting, to Lego, to colouring, to playing tag, to going to the park, to board games, to seeing a friend, to household chores (oh, that one always went down well!!!). Nah, they didn't want to do this, go there, play that.

But still, they were "booooooooored!"

Of course, I gave them some version of "When I was your age, the only toys I had were two rocks and a stick! My friends and I used our imaginations and we didn't have computers and blah blah blah....." Not like it ever made them think, "Wow, look at all the great stuff I could do." Nope. They were still booooooooooored!

I tried a new approach. "I'm not your social director."

Weirdly, that seemed to be the only thing that ever made them go and find something to do. As soon as I quit listing the options, they had to figure it out for themselves.

When I ask people what hobbies or interests they have, I'm always astonished by how many of them say, "I don't really have any." Or perhaps they have some but I'm told, "I don't actually pursue them." Or "I'd love to play the piano (or whatever)."

And I say, "So why don't you do it?"

The reasons (dare I say "excuses") are varied. No time, no money, too tired, or my all-time favourite, "I'm too old" - to which I will invariably reply, "You still have a pulse."

And then it's usually followed with an assortment of the other "reasons".

So I ask what they do with their 'after-work' time. They're too tired to do much so they watch TV. Ah, there's nothing like a good dose of apathy to get you motivated for the really excellent bits of life! Throw in a side order of lethargy with a tall glass of monotony, and you'll slide quite quickly and comfortably into a coma while you stare at that insipid box.

It's no wonder they're bored! What a dreadful existence! Work, coma, sleep. Work, coma, sleep. Yay. Can't wait for a bit more of that. Keep it up and you might just find out where they got the expression, "bored to death."

And then there are kids. They have a ton of things to do. Video games, computers, loads of toys and gadgets and devides and more 'stuff' (and cooler, better 'stuff') than any generation before, yet they're booooooooored!

Frankly, I think they've had so much entertainment handed to them on a silver platter (or crammed down their poor little throats) they haven't a clue how to entertain themselves any more. Don't yell at me for generalising, please, and just take my point. I'm sure there are plenty of kids out there who do know how to use their imaginations and brains and plenty of parents who encourage their children to use them. But as a society in general, I think this has become something of a problem.

And those kids are growing up (or have grown up) to be adults who are just as booooooooored.

There's no earthly reason for it if you have a functioning brain. That's all it takes. Well, that, and a dislike for your boredom. If you're gonna gripe about it, then do something to change it. Don't wait for a social director to appear out of nowhere (unless you're on a cruise ship with a bunch of 132-year-olds. And if you are, I can guarantee that they'll teach you how not to be bored because you don't get to be 132 and on a cruise ship by sitting around being booooooooored!).

Think about what interests you. Dig deep. C'mon, you must remember a thing or two that you once said you wanted to do or learn someday. Go online, poke around and at least learn about some new things. Check out some courses. Go to the library. Visit a nursing home. Find out what clubs, sports or activities are in your area. Go for a walk. Make a date with a friend. Make a date with yourself. Learn to cook or sew or shoot or paint or garden or build things or pick from a list of about nine million other options available to you. Create something. Write a poem. Play with clay. Be a volunteer.

The more you do, the more you may want to do because you will be stimulated and challenged and your happy brain will wake up and be as excited as a four- year-old on Christmas morning! Oooo, look at all the lovely presents! All those gifts of Things To Learn And Do! Once you open your mind to the world around you, the possibility of boredom becomes infinitesimal.

If you are so blessed as to live in a country of reasonable wealth and freedom, there should be no excuse for you to be booooooooored. Unless, of course, you want to be.

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