If you tell my 80-year-old dad you’re bored, he’ll tell you, “Boredom is a privilege.” He said he heard this from a taxi driver in NYC about a decade ago, and he never forgot it. That cab ride held an “ah-ha” moment for him, I guess, and it’s recently that I’m catching on.
Boredom can be a good thing or a bad thing. It depends on how you handle it.
Some women cause a stir when bored. These are the ones who seem to enjoy conflict and drama.
Conflict and drama can happen in the corporate world. People who don’t have enough work to do will find ways to add a little life to their miserable day. I wish I were somewhere else. I hate it here. They might hone in on a busy bee they secretly envy or who works outside their system of corporate politics. They might notice a woman who struggles with low self-esteem and pick on her like vultures. Women who are both lonely and bored may create drama and conflict to get attention, drumming up a crisis. You need to stop what you are doing and tend to me! These are examples of boredom gone bad.
When children are bored, they can get into trouble. What does this thing do? Ouch! Or worse, fire! Or, picture a class of bored eighth-graders. It starts with a passing note, then some whispers, then some spitballs and before you know it, all classroom etiquette is lost. Yes, ennui can cause a lot of trouble.
Boredom in relationships, much like the other scenarios, causes a mind to wander. We can wander into productive or destructive territory. You know what I mean. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched someone’s boyfriend look over his girlfriend’s shoulder at the girl walking by, or heard about a married woman having one “harmless” lunch after another with her guy friend.
If you need boredom to relax, to take perspective, to contemplate a decision, to discover you have your own opinions, or for time to love others and nurture relationships (including yourself!), then boredom is to be embraced. Make something good of it! On the other hand, if when you are bored, you turn to harmful ways to pass the time, then it’s best to choose an alternate route. Look at it this way: You are primed for opportunity!
Researchers assert that when we are bored, our brains search for creative means to engage our comfort zone again. In a lot of cases, boredom means something isn’t working for you. It might be time for a change. It might be time for soul searching. Maybe it’s time for something new.
Boredom as the spark
When it comes to boredom, Dale Carnegie offers this: “… throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart ….” And I like this from Dora Albert: “1. Listen to everyone you meet. 2. Believe that you possess all the energy you need. 2. Make sure that your job challenges your powers. 4. Get fun out of activities with others. 5. Keep your mind alive. 6. Join the do-it-yourself movement.”
Cherilynn Veland, MSW, LCSW, is a counselor and coach based in Chicago. She has been helping individuals, couples, and families for more than 20 years. She is author of Stop Giving It Away, a new book about developing healthier relationships with yourself and others. The Stop Giving It Away movement aims to stop the detrimental level of self-sacrifice in which many women live and work.