I suffer immensely with boredom – what used to enthrall me as a young person now fails to grab my attention.
I propose that boredom is an emotion, and like all emotions, there is purpose in its negativity, as it seeks to steer us away from what we are doing.
There seem to be two distinct faces to this emotion. First, there is the boredom that even (and especially?) children face when confronted by a vacuum of things to do. Paradoxically, this is actually good for children, and parents should ensure that the ‘schedule’ of their offspring is sufficiently slack that there are periods of emptiness that can solicit boredom.
The reason is that these children are driven by the boredom to then engage their creative and foraging minds in generating activities of interest. They explore and fabricate and thereby gain autonomy, something that is desperately lacking in many young people today.
The other class of boredom is where the subject is actually engaged in activities, but they are so dull or repetitive for that person that they grow restless and struggle to apply themselves.
For creative people, such as myself, I believe that this form of boredom is an emotional force urging us to avoid the mundane and seek out activities that best suit our creative minds or abilities.
So both classes of boredom seem to be related to creativity. Is it not the case that those in mundane, repetitive jobs are more suited to these roles because they are not creative types? An accountant has to repeat the same kinds of detailed numerical processes time and time again with great attention to detail. If his mind were apt to wander and speculate, as the creative mind does, how could he sustain the concentration required?
So if you are beset with boredom, try to understand what your mind is telling you.
Personally, I find myself regularly becoming bored writing up 100+ pages of teaching notes for computer programming that I want to teach. I wonder if my boredom is telling me that I have simply spent too many years now engaged in writing books (and hence that I should move onto new work), or that it is the subject matter that is too familiar, having spent 40 years as a programmer. So the question I ask myself then is whether will I enjoy the one-to-one programming tuition that I plan to offer? Having committed myself to the latter via the efforts in this book and in paid advertising for my services, I need to find out by staying the course. It is impossible to guess how the teaching will pan out – I suspect well because the focus will likely be on the nurturing, enabling aspects of tuition rather than the subject of the teaching.