Is getting bored a good thing?
In the age of Facebook, Netflix, Spotify and Fortnite it’s easy to let the system take control. If you allow them, these streaming, entertaining, dopamine tripping platforms will keep you glued to your seats all day. They won’t let you get bored.
This thing is, getting bored serves a function. As far as I can tell, the whole purpose and spiritual breakthrough of Yoga is to cope with boredom and through this to reflect on life. No time for that in a video game.
Some other activities where boredom is there to be overcome:
Taking a walk with no phone in hand. Just walk.
Listening to an album from start to finish. Just listen
Running for 30 minutes straight. Just run.
When were you last bored?
Black Friday Blues are a very distinct set of emotions. These emotions hit my consciousness like a Mike Tyson punch to the head once a year. My name is Ross and I am addicted to technology.
If you could see my setup you would realise how deep my addiction has set in. I have wonderful headphones linked up to specialised hifi equipment attached to my Macbook. My TV room is full of gaming, streaming, hifi and AV devices. The pleasure it gives me to link up a piece of high fidelity tech has become a crutch. And now the internet throws half price deals at me – it’s like offering an alcoholic a tequila shot and a beer chaser – half price happy hour. Sheesh.
I still haven’t figured out how I am going to avoid/ignore/manage the deals that will barrage my inbox all day today and tomorrow.
Wish me luck.
As an experiment, try and find the habits in your daily life that are driven by pleasure – you know the ones i mean – those things you do when you’re a little bit bored which give you that nice little buzz and dopamine hit.
It is difficult. It forces you to reflect on your actions and life, and it eventually forces you to recognise that pleasurable things are not the most fulfilling things, precisely because they are temporary and external. In this way, pleasure is different to happiness.
Pleasure is a momentary feeling that comes from something external — a good meal, a message notification, making love and so on. Pleasurable experiences can give us momentary feelings of satisfaction, but this feeling does not last long because it is dependent upon external events and experiences. Try and locate the pleasurable (not happy, remember) activity in your life and try to stop doing it for a whole day – I’m almost certain you’ll find it hard to do.
But pleasure is not wrong in and of itself – so why stop? Because we need to know how we feel without the constant pleasure seeking. Are we doing all these things because we are sad without them? And if we are in fact sad about something, shouldn’t we find a more permanent solution?
The trouble comes when we ascribe the pleasurable activities in our lives more value and power than we should. A drug addict gives heroine priority over everything else – she sees it as the source of her happiness and of her power in life. Similarly a bulimic ascribes power to food and the control thereof. In actual fact, drugs and throwing up give us but a temporary pleasure – not a true satisfaction. They are not the answer to any sadness that is felt.
Once we see the things we are deriving pleasure from, a useful next step is to reflect on how we feel when we do not have access to these things – are we happy or sad without them? If we are happy without them, then there is no real problem. Carry on living.
If we are sad without them, and furthermore if we rely on the activity more than we should – then something needs to change for the sadness to lift.
If something that is abhorrent, abnormal or unacceptable to society becomes your norm, what do you do? Of course this is a hugely subjective question. So some examples for a thought experiment.
If you are hooked on video games and can’t stop yourself from playing 5, 6, 7 hours a day, what do you do?
If you are used to seeing graphic images online and find yourself watching pornography far more than you care to admit, what do you do?
If you can’t stop throwing up the food you eat, because you feel like it will make you fat even though it is in fact a balanced healthy diet, what do you do?
If you accept bribes as part of your daily routine at work, what do you do?
If you don’t recycle your rubbish and burn fossil fuels every day in your car, what do you do?
Abstinence may form part of the solution. Letting go of preconceptions and control seems to play a part in some of the cases. Almost certainly the solution involves soul searching, a whole lot of courage, and a multi-pronged attack which can be draining and requires full commitment.