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The Cure for Boredom

Cure for Boredom

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” –Dorothy Parker

I strive to live in a sense of wonder, yet often I fail. Even on the road, where I feel most at home, I become acclimated to beauty and experiences. This champagne on my First Class flight is flat! … The taxi queue is taking forever!

Just as melancholy knows no bounds of social class and can strike at any time, so too can boredom.

You’ve been floating along, doing okay, but all of a sudden it hits you: you’re disenchanted and stuck in a rut.

Melancholy is a tough one, but fortunately boredom is easier to fix. I don’t think the answer is just be happy. The answer is be present and aware.

As Dorothy Parker said, the antidote is curiosity—and there’s no cure for that. (Would you want one?)

Two years ago I tried Crossfit. I decided it wasn’t for me… I didn’t enjoy the “feel like I’m dying every time I exercise” part. But I liked the concept of mixing it up and challenging myself. I realized I usually exercised the same way, and introducing a new workout was helpfully disorienting.

I think I should do more of that. Maybe you should consider it too.

I want to be curious. I want to ask questions and meet new people. When something goes wrong, I want to be open to a new direction.

If the same thing happens to you, perhaps it’s time to stretch your legs in new stomping grounds. Change a habit. Get up early or stay out late. Stop doing the things that bring you down. Reduce decisions to focus—and feel—better.

Everyone can become routinized. Rumor has it you can even become stuck in a rut while flying around the world every month.

When boredom strikes, get back to curiosity as fast as you can.

Comments here.

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33 Comments

  • The cure for my boredom was to follow your lead and travel the world. My wife and I quit our jobs in the fall of 2012 and took off for 12 months of travel and volunteer work around the world. Our “permanent” address is now in Bangkok…

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Ann Stanley says:

    I know. The human condition eh? You’re flying around the world, living your dream, I’m self-employed, in the first month of my dream, and I’ve been a little bored too. I’m not bored right now though. It passes if you just get on with things and wait. I think it doesn’t help to say ‘I should not be bored’, even though it’s hard not to feel guilty with such a first world problem. I guess we’re not wired to have everything going our way. I like your idea of changing a habit. That works. Anyway I have found your blog very helpful. It actually inspired me to quit a good high paying job to set up a little business. So we don’t exist just for our own enjoyment but to serve others, and you have served me. Thanks. I hope your boredom passes soon. For some of us, it’s probably normal.

  • Rebecca says:

    this is very true! its important to be constantly challenging and changing things

  • James G. says:

    I used to have this ‘great’ job that was mostly great, where I traveled around the country all the time. People would ask what I did for a living, and I was sheepish in telling them because the next thing they said was “that’s so great.” Almost always. Living the dream. I left that job 1 1/2 years ago, settling down in Denver. I gave coming home a try.

    I have been stuck in a major rut ever since. My social circle is spread out across the country, while my personal world has gotten so small. The same apartment, the same few restaurants, the same gigs, etc. Majorly stuck. It gets pretty lonely.

    I’m working under the principle that my current gig is going away in September (it’s hard to explain why). But I’m really looking forward to that. I’m trying to find out what is next before that hits. But if it doesn’t, I guarantee the rut will be gone.

    Ever look around you and wish that everything you had just disappeared? Then you would be forced to start fresh, with no blame for yourself. You had to start over, you lost everything. That feels like a crazy thought, but I know I’m not the only one. The old fight club line, “The things you own end up owning you.”

    I’m ready.

  • Curiosity, expansiveness, opening my heart, being vulnerable (this is challenging) & a playful attitude (not taking myself seriously) are keys to my daily sense of joy.

    XO

    PS: The champagne in first class if flat? Damn it! Open another bottle! 🙂

  • Helen says:

    I love that quote by Dorothy Parker. It is so true. I often hear people who dread the thought of retirement because they will be bored! I try hard to squash my disbelief as I don’t have time to be bored. There is so much to explore, learn, do and experience. I am a way off from ‘official’ retirement age, but if I could afford to retire now and take up my long list of things I’d like to do, I would grab the chance. Curiosity is a wonderful blessing. One I embrace wholeheartedly. Great post.

  • Hannah says:

    This is good and helpful. Getting into routines can easily bring on boredom for us “scanner” types (to use Barbara Sher’s term) and slow down productivity. there’s a real need to stay stimulated and yet the work has to get done. No way around it–there will be repetitious tasks and people to deal with who are more comfortable being repetitious.

  • Anita Chase says:

    Great post! This is why I like organizations like Groupon and Dabble – you can try a sampling of a kind of exercise, or restaurant, or new experience without a large time or money commitment. I have found all kinds of new interests through trying these kinds of things. And the library – that’s a good place to find new interests too!

  • Nate says:

    Good stuff Chris. This is a goal of mine this year: to do at least one new or uncomfortable thing a month. This month: Try out a crossfit type class at my gym.

  • Paige says:

    Every time I read your blog, I want to jump ship at my job and try something new! Your books have inspired me- I’ve read The $100 Startup twice and I’m on the second round of The Art of Nonconformity. I love where I work, I just don’t love the job I do anymore (been here 10 years). I’m bored out of my skull, and that’s when things start to get bad for me. There’s no upward mobility here at this time, so I am realizing more and more that it’s time to try something new. Or more accurately, try something old, a new way.
    Thank you- you really are an inspiration.

  • What a wonderful article at the perfect time for me! Some exciting changes after 15 years of working on something are headed my way…this calmed my fears of the new. Thank you!!

  • Dave Fox says:

    “When boredom strikes, get back to curiosity as fast as you can.”

    I love that enough that I’m taping it to my wall. Also, I am bored of my neighborhood so I am moving soon. I will be taping it to my new wall too.

  • I’m reading a new book right now called Anti-fragile. It compares people who are either fragile, resilient, or anti-fragile. Anti people thrive in chaotic and unfamiliar situations.
    You are one of the examples of someone I look up to as Anti-fragile.
    Even though you may not seek out chaos, you seem to really have fun when you do run into it.

  • I love it. I’ve never been more motivated, entertained, and productive than when I’m reading a great book about a topic I’ve struggled with. And the best lessons I’ve learned about myself and the world around me have come from questioning things that I had previously taken for granted. Great stuff!

  • Kabamba says:

    Curiosity. Yes. And it is enough reason to start something new, even when we are not there yet on the ‘ability scale’.

  • Fraser says:

    Totally agree, if life gets boring – change it. The boredom could be a lack of challenge from living in your comfort zone. Setting yourself a meaty challenge that makes you feel a little queezy should focus your attention and stimulate your mind.

  • Adam says:

    Looking at the title and picture it looks like the cure for boredom is BEER!

  • Jeff Goins says:

    The cure for boredom is… beer? Okay, you’re probably right. 😉

  • Pip says:

    You have just hit the nail on the head of why I’ve been feeling so damn irritable this week! I’m so bored. Time to change it up- thanks Chris! And now I also want a beer 🙂

  • Nandrin says:

    re “Everyone can become routinized. Rumor has it you can even become stuck in a rut while flying around the world every month.”

    I’ve been living abroad for 3+ years, and particularly traveling a lot the last 6 months to the point where I think I’ve hit a wall and stuck in a rut, even those i’m living in tropical paradise (minus the bugs).

    Maybe 6 months of moving around is my max? Considering spending some time back home with friends/family then back to my 2nd home Buenos Aires. THEN traveling again 🙂

    Thanks for the post.

  • Karen says:

    Sometimes it is good to take up random offers to try different things. If you told me a couple of years ago that I would be getting up at 5.15 at the age of 50 to learn pole fitness I would have fallen off my chair laughing. But when presented with the opportunity I took it and it really gave me a new lease on both life and my fitness regime. I’m now looking for opportunities to try different things as a result. Thanks for the post Chris.

  • Lucy Chen says:

    I LOVE routine. I cannot function properly without an established routine. Perhaps it is because big changes are often “forced” on me, such as moving interstates then counties (not traveling but changing home) numerous times.

    However, I often experiment with new things because I am a very curious person. Interior decoration, vegan recipes, and attracting native wildlife to our backyard, just to name a few things I’m doing right now as we’re reestablishing in Sydney.

    Routines do not bore me, as long as I’m curious.

  • Lindsay says:

    The cure for boredom is to quit your job that you’ve had for 7 years, and move to NYC to start a new one, where you know nothing and no one, with your small dog while most of your friends and family try to convince you to stay.

    Today is Day 5, and so far we’ve survived getting lost on the subway for two hours and a giant snowstorm that dropped a foot of snow!

    One of your stories that really inspired me Chris was the one about Hernan Cortes and his famous quote “Burn the ships,” I told one of my best friends that story and she loved it so much she ended up getting it tattooed on her left arm last week.

    I have been bored for the past seven years living a life I thought I should live, afraid to make a change, afraid to fail, staying comfortable in what I know.

    Now it’s time to have a little adventure. Who knows where this new journey will lead me, first stop New York City, then…

    Burn the ships,

    : )

    Lindsay

  • Great post Chris! For me, getting out and about is a big cure. Going somewhere new, driving up to the mountains, bumbling around until I find something interesting like a coffee shop, store or park. Give myself a break from the usual and seek out the new and different!

  • I agree whole-heartedly that curiosity is the cure for boredom. That said, boredom isn’t necessarily routine… as a person who suffers from severe depression, it is routine that helps me stay sane. It’s what you do with the routine… and just like your annual review, every routine needs adjustment over time. That said, if you just punch-in/out your days, that’s a definite boredom magnet….

  • Mitch says:

    Even though I was really productive last week, I became stuck in a rut. After allowing myself to stay in the rut and enjoy it, I came to realize I was avoiding the most important task in my mind, writing down the outline for my book. After sitting down and writing it out, my subconscious let me out of the rut.

  • Lisa says:

    Boredom can be a hard one. I am currently feeling like I need to move locations every few months to avoid getting bored with a city but I’m wondering when that is going to become boring itself!

  • Jen says:

    Just read non conformity Chris and really enjoyed it, so now I’m on here to get even more inspiration! And I have been bored!! I can totally relate to james G. I travel for work and have been around the country but mostly LA these days. But I’m stuck in a rut! Living in hotels and not getting out and meeting people. I’ve changed my home in AZ for a start but I need to do more. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I love it, I am curious about most things in life, perhaps a bit too curious about some things, but overall I ma never bored. i see no point in it, when a gigantic wide open world full of interesting people, and places and things is waiting for me to simply say yes.

    Awesome post, thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Joe says:

    I was in a rut. Really didn’t notice, but I was. So, what did I do? Packed everything up and my family and I moved to a new town in a new part of the country. Dismantled the entire support structure. Were curious again. Trying new places to explore, new restaurants, new parks. It’s beautiful. I’m curious to explore again.

  • Oliver says:

    I like the quote at the beginning! I think curiosity is kind of the company for an inspiring life…
    One of my favourite curiosity quotes is this one:
    “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” ~ Albert Einstein 🙂

  • LBV PRASAD says:

    i loved each and every post authored above. My boredom completely disappeared while reading sbv posts.
    One of the antidotes to boredoom is BEER….it was humorous. Albert einstein’s quote was great.
    Due to boredom both my cerebrum and cerebellum paralyzed.
    Now i started playing online chess,took up readingbiographies
    watch different channels on TV, last but not the least is internet, youtube;
    watch interviews of great people and achievers; watch Bond movies which are forever interesting.
    Thank you folks for the posts.

  • LBV PRASAD says:

    i loved each and every post authored above. My boredom completely disappeared while reading sbv posts.
    One of the antidotes to boredoom is BEER….it was humorous. Albert einstein’s quote was great.
    Due to boredom both my cerebrum and cerebellum paralyzed.
    Now i started playing online chess,took up readingbiographies
    watch different channels on TV, last but not the least is internet, youtube;
    watch interviews of great people and achievers; watch Bond movies which are forever interesting.
    Thank you folks for the posts.

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