Boredom comes from not knowing ourselves

The next time you find yourself lost in a fog of boredom during an endless, rainy Sunday afternoon, consider this new research by John Eastwood and colleagues, showing boredom has little to do with lack of external stimulation and everything to do with being out of touch with our emotions.

Two hundred and four undergrads completed questionnaires about their susceptibility to boredom, and about their emotions, including questions on describing feelings and being externally focused.

The students who said they suffered from more boredom were also more externally focused and reported difficulty identifying their emotions. Eastwood and colleagues
said this shows our natural tendency to seek outside stimulations and distractions
when we're bored is the wrong solution.

“Like the trap of quicksand, such thrashing only serves to strengthen the grip of boredom by further alienating us from our desire and passion, which provide compass points for satisfying engagement with life”, they said. Instead the researchers suggest treating boredom as an opportunity to “discover the possibility and content of one’s desires”.

Eastwood, J.D., Cavaliere, C., Fahlman, S.A. & Eastwood, A.E. (2007). A desire for desires: Boredom and its relation to alexithymia. Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 1035-1045.
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