Today, it is the ultimate insult - 'boooorrrrrinng!'
Boredom is a killer. And being boring is the worst social status one can have.
I sometimes feel bogged down by routine - doing the same work, working fixed hours, eating the same food, going to the same places, hanging out with the same people. I feel the burning need to do something new, the need to do something different.
And it's fun. I love it. It refreshes me.
Brain research has shown that a rush of dopamine accompanies fresh experiences of any kind. In one study published in the journal Neuron, researchers showed participants a series of images that were mostly very similar and commonplace: ordinary landscapes, interiors, and faces. Then, they randomly threw in an "oddball" image, something that was unexpected and out of the ordinary. Observing which areas of the subjects’ brains were activated during the experiment, they found that the "pleasure centers" of the brain, located mainly in the mid brain, were activated when the oddball appeared, resulting in a flood of dopamine throughout the brain.
Seeking new experiences is a pleasure seeking activity. This means, it can potentially become an addiction. I am going to put a stake in the ground right now and make a statement that is going to surely create some revolt - I believe you and I are already addicted to novelty.
'But what is wrong with seeking novelty?', I hear you asking.
- I get distracted easily
- I don't complete tasks
- I lose go deep enough into one thing
- I don't become really really good at anything
- I am often dissatisfied
- My energy drops the middle of a project
- I miss out on opportunities
- I'm constantly search for the next exciting thing
Novelty has positive points too:
- It is refreshing
- I expand my perspective
- I learn new things
- I meet new people
- I open new doors
So what to do? Seek novelty, or stay put?
The right question to ask oneself is this -
What should the ratio of continuity / novelty be in various aspects of my life be?
Should it be 70% continuity and 30% novelty, or the other way around. I leave that to you to decide. But it is worth thinking about.
Almost 10 years ago, when my grandmother was still physically present in my life, we had traveled for a family trip t our ancestral home in a small village called Alsisar in Rajasthan. All of us cousins got together one afternoon and decided to film an interview of the elders. It was a lot of fun. So many stories crawled out of the folds and crevices of their 80+ years old brains.
And then I asked them - 'When you were young, what did you do when you got bored?'
That's when my grandmother looked at me with a sly smile and said something that changed my life forever. She said 'Bored. What's that?'
They didn't understand the the concept of boredom!
Is boredom is a modern day disease?
Is boredom caused because we are so used to exciting and stimulating things all the time - netflix, music, instagram, tinder, travel, food, courses...
Let boredom happen.
It's not such a bad thing.
Stay with it, my friend.
It's ok to not do anything.
It's ok to not be doing something new all the time.
It's ok to repeat the same thing.
It's ok to meet the same people.
Novelty seeking is a personality trait we all share. There are many studies that have been done.
What matters is my own self-awareness of my own need for novelty - and how many it helps of hampers me.
Here is an excerpt from an article in the NY Times that you may find interesting.
Dr. Cloninger, a professor of psychiatry and genetics at Washington University in St. Louis, tracked people using a personality test he developed two decades ago. He and colleagues looked for the crucial combination of traits in people who flourished over the years — the ones who reported the best health, most friends, fewest emotional problems and greatest satisfaction with life.
What was the secret to their happy temperament and character? The answer was a trio of traits. They scored high in three different traits:
"People with persistence tend to be achievers because they’ll keep working at something even when there’s no immediate reward," Dr. Cloninger says. "They’ll think, ‘I didn’t win this time, but next time I will.’
But what if conditions have changed? Then you’re better off trying something new. To succeed, you want to be able to regulate your impulses while also having the imagination to see what the future would be like if you tried something new."
The other trait in the trio, self-transcendence, gives people a larger perspective. "It’s the capacity to get lost in the moment doing what you love to do, to feel a connection to nature and humanity and the universe," Dr. Cloninger says.
"It’s sometimes found in disorganized people who are immature and do a lot of wishful thinking and daydreaming, but when it’s combined with persistence and novelty-seeking, it leads to personal growth and enables you to balance your needs with those of the people around you."
Read the entire article here: