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By Eric Barker
October 30, 2014
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

What can we do to cure boredom?

The quickest and easiest way is to change your context.

If you’re alone, it’s pretty straightforward: get up, go out, see friends, put yourself in a new situation where you have less control over your environment and things will stimulate you.

But there are a lot of areas where boredom seems tougher to deal with: relationships, work, etc.

Boring Relationship?

In the context of a relationship, stop thinking about you or your partner. Again, change your context. Don’t get dinner or drinks and talk. That relies on you two to be interesting. Go somewhere that’s already fun.

Doing thrilling stuff is the key to a fantastic first date. Roller coasters.Horror movies or suspense films.

And if you are just talking, stop playing it so safe. The best questions to ask on a first date are offbeat and fun. It’s better to talk about STD’s and abortions than the weather.

What kills most long-term relationships? A lack of excitement. The research points again and again to how important thrills are:

  1. What reignited passion in long term marriages? Doing exciting things together.
  2. Think a pleasant evening is all it takes? Researchers did a 10 week study comparing couples that engaged in “pleasant” activities vs “exciting” activities. Pleasant lost.
  3. What can improve the sex in a relationship? Try a roller coaster together. Anything that stimulates your central nervous system also gets you going sexually.
  4. Why would doing anything exciting have such a big effect on a relationship? Because we’re lousy about realizing where our feelings are coming from. Excitement from any source will be associated with the person you’re with, even if they’re not the cause of it.

Bored At Work?

What about at work? Work can be boring and you can’t change the context as much. Very true and this is a serious issue: a boring job can kill you.

The key to fighting boredom at the office is not excitement, it’s finding meaning in what you do. Broadening the definition of what it is you are doing, seeing it as a mission or calling, and feeling you are making a difference can make you happier, more fulfilled and less bored.

What if YOU are boring?

What if you’re boring? People who bore others are often self-indulgent — they just talk about what interests them. We all fall prey to this on occasion.

The best lesson here is from Steven Pressfield’s advice on improving writing: keep in mind that nobody wants to read your stuff. So keep things simple and always have the audience in mind.

What about chores that are undeniably boring?

If you have to do tasks that are boring and there’s no two ways about it, don’t take a break:

You may think that taking a break during an irritating or boring experience will be good for you, but a break actually decreases your ability to adapt, making the experience seem worse when you have to return to it. When cleaning your house or doing your taxes, the trick is to stick with it until you are done.

What about when other people are boring you?

At least in some situations, don’t be afraid to let your mind wander. Especially on the phone, research shows that people actually like us better when we’re distracted: we’re less negative, less complex and more personal in our speech. We also encourage the other person to talk more.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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