It seems today that we are on a constant war with boredom. We are almost afraid of it, indeed, almost all of us carry around devices in our pockets that we use expressly to combat boredom. Think about it, what do you do when you’re on a boring journey or are waiting for something? You use your smartphone or something. If this makes you bored you’ll do something else.
I remember on one hour long train journey, I read for a bit, listened to music, played a video game… the reason I kept changing was because I didn’t want to feel bored for a second.
This is made worse by the fact that we now have more forms of stimulation than ever before. Therefore we seek different and more exciting ways to fight of boredom.
Human brain hates to be bored
The brain is hardwired to look for stimulants. Every time we enjoy a new experience, neurons in our brain fire off and we experience pleasure, or a brief respite from boredom.1 However, after a while, the same experience cease to have such an effect, and as such we get bored. The cycle continues as we look for other things to fight off boredom.
The thing is, even though our brain seeks these experiences out, we don’t need them. We have no need to be stimulated all the time, and frankly, looking for stimulants all the time can have a negative impact on us and our productivity.
Work we find difficult often makes us bored, so when we are faced with having to work on a difficult task for a while, we become easily distracted, our minds beg for stimulation. Lack of interest in something, and a desire for change or novelty are key causes of boredom.