07 February 2013

The Cure for Boredom is Simplicity

Once you begin the journey to a simpler lifestyle a lot of questions start arising. Like, how will I live without my stuff now that I'm downsizing? How will I prevent feeling bored when I deliberately choose simplicity? Don't worry because simplicity IS the cure for boredom, however unlikely that might sound to you right now.

What is boredom
In a life overpopulated by media of all kinds getting used to be entertained is the most common of vices. Being brought up by TV programs and growing up with a game console/mobile phone embedded in their hands, children have a hard time being simply by themselves or enjoying simple age-old games that don't need electricity.
growing up with video games
Photo: Amanda Tipton

I openly blame bad parenting for that. Letting your kids get carried away by the waves of apathy generated by television or video games is a sign of false love motivated by self-love.

Bored children grow up to become bored adults, unable to keep company to themselves, expecting the world around to provide for them - entertainment, fun, motivation, you name it. Unfortunately, such mindset makes people forever unhappy with what they have, forever dreaming of the next great thing they still don't have... forever envying the grass that's greener on the other side.

But boredom can also be a destructive force. A 2005 study of 92 Scottish teenagers found that boredom was among the top reasons stated for taking drugs.

In learning, boredom is connected to intelligence. People tend to get bored when something is either too incomprehensive or too easy for them. Or when they cannot focus.

In everyday life, boredom can appear when the same activity is repeated again and again and you are not motivated.

Boredom and simplicity
If you are inexperienced at simple living you might be slightly taken aback by the notion of minimizing your possessions, decluttering the space around you, reducing the time you spend connected.

Such a life might seem too intense at first, too empty, and boring. But that is if you are relying on the outside to give you purpose.

But don't despair, there are steps you can take to awaken your interest in the world and never feel bored, and these steps are part of the simplicity you are striving for.

How to cure boredom
Get out of your comfort zone
Challenge yourself to go about the same old routine with a new twist, add an activity that has been scary to you, do your chores in a different manner, which has been unthinkable before. Suddenly your mind will get focused on the exciting part, instead of the tedious one. Embrace new activities, hobbies and points of view. Think about them, discuss them, do them. Life is too short to be spent in boredom and apathy.

Last month I took a self-imposed challenge to get out of my comfort zone which set my creativity on fire and refreshed my mind. I am still continuing with it!

Focus on what is really important to you, define your goals. Make a decision based on your priorities. You can learn to focus by spending time alone in nature, or in quiet contemplation. Or you can start a creative project - it will set your mind at a different frequency and will help you concentrate.

Whenever I work on my photographs to turn them into surreal artworks I seem to transfer to a parallel world where anything is possible. While I am concentrated on the act of creating my thoughts roam freely and I often have problems solved by themselves at the end or my working process.

Stop distraction
Living in a complex, hyper-stimulating world, we have grown used to being distracted. In fact, without distraction we feel like life becomes stagnant. But distraction, as well as multi-tasking are a plague to your mind that only steal your focus. Learn to do one thing at a time and to be fully present.

I was a proud multi-tasker until the day I realized that was nothing to be proud with. I've been trying to completely stop multi-tasking in order to keep my sanity and to ensure that I am doing my best in every situation.

Start a journal to help streamline your thoughts and to increase your sense of purpose. You will be surprised by thoughts you will witness yourself write down.

I have been a writer ever since I learned to write and still have my teen  journals kept by my mother. Nowadays blogging has become my journaling and I appreciate the way it has helped my conscience grow.

Be quiet
Learn to sit quietly in a room with just yourself as company. Instead of feeling frustrated or bored, enjoy the silence, listen to your heart and your thoughts.

Sitting quietly is a favorite of mine. Or walking quietly. I remember many of my walks in the forest, through all seasons when I wished I didn't make a noise so I don't ruin the perfect moment of bird songs, gentle wind and the sound of the waves; or the drops falling from the melting snow.

Dorothy Parker says that "the cure for boredom is curiosity". I say that the cure for boredom is simplicity.

By simplifying your priorities you get a clear vision to the path you are walking. Simple methods, simple actions leave no space for boredom, on the contrary, they fill your everyday with mindful activities that motivate you and make you feel satisfied with your choices.

After embracing a simpler and more mindful lifestyle you will look back at your previous self and wonder how have you managed to live before and you will not remember what filled your days, I promise.

How do you deal with boredom?


  1. Once again, this is an awesome post! I'll tell you that since my oldest daughter was little (even before preschool days), we've had what we call "No TV Days" throughout the week (it's evolved to be a "No Tech Day" to include video games and such (but an hour may be set aside for important use during the day). Not just an hour or two without the TV - the whole day.

    Just about everyone thought (and still thinks) we're weird because we do this...But it's something we all need. It's like family game night or girl's night out. It's for the whole family to do something outside of TV and computer screens...Like some of the suggestions you have listed here. Journal writing and reading are excellent for kids too, because it builds their writing skills for academics.

    For parents, we have to try to teach our kids the best ways that we can. I don't blame everything on parenting, but good parenting can definitely make a GOOD difference.

    I could babble on and on, but I'll stop there. Love this post. =0)


    1. This is a great idea for family fun, Kim. We have spent most of our days without TV or with the occasional 1-hour viewing after dinner.

      I can see how doing something unusual for mainstream culture can even make you an outcast but we don't live for other people and we should stand up for our beliefs.

      Lazy parenting is a complex result of course but each of us, parents should take the responsibility to allow his/her children have childhood.

      Thank you!

  2. Loved reading this and it's so true. There are so many wonderful things to do and see just out and about in nature. I love going for walks alone so I can really take in all of my surroundings. I find those walks to be so inspiring and beautiful, nature is really incredible and there is always something to look at and study. We just need to learn to open our eyes and learn to enjoy the things that are all around us.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Tania. Food for thought - isn't it strange that we have reached the point of needing to learn to do things that were normal for us 50 - 100 years ago!

  3. I've never really thought about boredom that way--the connection between simplicity and feeling at peace is definitely at the core of it.

  4. Great post! I enjoy quiet time by myself, just to sit and think and enjoy the silence. Alone time with a good book is also wonderful too. We aren't big tv watchers here, so that's something I don't rely on for entertainment.

    1. Good for you, Meeling! Nice to have you here :)

  5. Interesting read. I'm not sure I agree with all the points, but it's good food for thought. While I do spend gobs of time just sitting quietly in imagination, I feel guiltily unproductive about it. I do enjoy my paper creations, though, and time passes amazingly fast when I'm immersed in my art cave.

    1. Oh, I too love spending time immersed in art. Just an idea: If you stop requiring productivity and slow down you will be able to concentrate on that "slow time" and actually enjoy it just for the sake of it.

  6. First of all - GREAT POST.

    It's so strange that, I am thinking in these lines too ,lately a lot. I came across an interesting book "Less is More: - by Leo Babauta... and what a connection..when you embrace a thought - you find so many like minded people.

    But it is true - "It is difficult to be simple" - like the Poet Rabindra Nath Tagore said.


    1. Thank you, Dita. You are so right, when you embrace an idea life meets you with like-minded people to help you live it out!

  7. Great post Sonya!
    I am really big on peace and quite. I spend most of my days in silence, giving me more focus while I work. I prefer to drive without the radio and just enjoy my surroundings. There is something nice about not being connected all the time, life is a little less stressful and rewarding. Thanks for your tips.
    Everyday Inspired

  8. As someone who enjoys video games a great deal (but only played them rarely as a child) I often wonder how I'm going to go about this when it comes to my own kid...
    Something that concerns me even more (and this may be a US-specific problem) is the ubiquitousness of smart phones among children. By the time my child is around, not having one will make him look like a modern day luddite!

    I think children should not be left to become comfortable with the term 'boredom'. Often, all it takes for them to snap out of it is a nudge towards an activity (and I don't mean tv!) or a bright little initiative.

    As adults, what we call 'boredom' is a cushy wall, a broad umbrella term that people readily grab instead of looking at what's really causing the feeling. You can say you're bored, and that's the end of the conversation. Saying you feel frightened, or paralyzed, or dissatisfied, requires answers. It's a tougher conversation.

    1. Yes, a lot of questions with different answers depending on whether or not one has children. Our daughter is one of the children without a smartphone, despite the fact that her every single classmate has an iPhone5. We don't own smartphones either. But when I think about it, the problem is not about this particular piece of technology. A child should grow up proud to be an individual and not part of a flock.

    2. Indeed! This is just the old scenario with a new twist: before, a specific toy would be trendy among children, now it's the smartphone.
      There were always kids who were better at resisting the call of the flock —in great part thanks to constructive parenting, no doubt.

  9. Goodness, it's taken 2 months for me to digest this one! Has been soooooo relevant for where I'm at and things I'm asking myself about "the glorification of busy" and guilt of simplifying and slowing down. I wrote a response to this post on my blog because I have so very many thoughts!



    1. Wow, it is refreshing to hear from you, despite the long wait! I am off to read your post, of course.