Plinky.com asked me how I cure boredom and what's my Plan B when I find I'm still bored.
OK. Finally a prompt that gets me thinking.
Boredom is a tough thing for me, as it's usually a symptom of something else.
I have a very active mind and am always (always) making abstract connections between different images, ideas and data. It's my blessing to have such a set of neurons and synapses, and very rarely feels like a curse.
Except when I'm tired or lacking new stimulation. When that happens, it literally feels like a sailboat that has lost its wind. Floating in the middle of the ocean, becalmed with no impetus to travel elsewhere.
Very, very rarely, such boredom gives me a quite desperate sense of futility – that nothing's worth anything. It's a horrible feeling.
So, my first action is maybe counter-intuitive – I wallow in that feeling of boredom, I get to know it, what's driving it, were there any triggers, how does it show up in my body
[usually with my shoulders hunching and my head protruding forward]
The better I get to know it, the better I can recognize it happening and choose what I'm to do about it.
My second action is usually to listen for what it is that I've been avoiding doing. Because I find that the avoidance is what bores me.
Here's a very real example of what I mean. Practically everyone here writes, and some of you may write long-form fiction. If you do, you'll know that feeling of "that would be such a cool thing to write about, I'll definitely write about it when I get around to writing…" I personally put a book on hold for nearly 5 years because of that feeling – which, for me at least, is a manifestation of self-doubt.
When I get that feeling I end up like a caged animal, pacing the perimeter, unable to focus on anything more than in passing and, ultimately, bored by the everything – my mental connection machine just idling over but not engaged.
By focusing on what I've been avoiding – and just starting it anyway – I usually can get the gears of the machine to connect.
If that doesn't work, I go for Plan B and distract myself. Tell myself it's OK to idle and then just go to do something on autopilot: walking, playing the guitar, driving, taking a train ride… Generally something involving motion. It may take a minute, five or ten but I always find that something will begin to bubble up while I'm on autopilot – it's an exercise in bypassing the conscious fore-brain and engaging the much larger sub-conscious.
Regardless, there are still times that I get bored. And for those, I still haven't found the ideal cure. Thankfully, they become less impactful, and further between, as I get older.