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Mindful : October 2016
The fact that we’ve noticed our boredom is good news: It means we’ve stepped out of the autopilot of compulsively seeking distraction. corresponding to a wide range of inner states. Those with indifferent boredom feel calm but withdrawn, while apathetic boredom feels a lot like helplessness. Calibrating boredom is characterized by a wandering mind and the desire for something different, but without being clear as to what’s really needed. Searching boredom is a restless searching for alternative activities, driven by feelings of discomfort, while reactant boredom comes with high arousal and strong negative emotions: we’re aggressive toward the world around us, desperately wish- ing we were somewhere else. As soon as we approach these states with interest, we’ve already stepped out of our iden- tification with them; we’ve started to view bore- dom with a nuanced observer’s eye. We discover 7 Habit-Changers Overcoming boredom might just be a matter of freshening up your routine. Another way to awaken interest is to seek out new situations and experiences, inviting a different per- spective. Try one of these each day for a week and notice what happens. that what we thought was boring is actually a multifaceted kaleidoscope of sensory and mental events. Of course, this is easier said than done. But it can be practiced, by repeatedly paying attention to what’s happening in the moment. Try it for yourself. When you find yourself attaching the label “bored” to your experience, ask, Where in my body am I feeling this? Can I describe the actual sensations—hot, cool, numb, tight, itchy, tired? What thoughts are percolat- ing in my mind—are there ideas of wanting to get away, wishing things were different, or am I identifying as helpless, unbothered, or restless? Underneath the big blanket label of boredom, do more subtle aspects emerge, such as irritation, perhaps, regret, or fear? Through mindfulness, a stagnant, stale state is imbued with fresh energy. Research suggests this approach is related to positive mood—vari- ous studies have found that well-being increases by attending with interest to body sensations and routine activities. Simply put: It’s hard to be bored when you’re in touch with the magic of being alive. → ADVICE Take an unfamiliar route to work, or to a regular appointment. Change your mode of transpor t—if you usually drive, take the bus, or train, or walk. Follow a recipe for a meal you’ve never tried, with at least one ingredient you’ve not before cooked with. Start a conversation with someone you’ve never really talked with: the barista at your coffee shop or someone from a different depar tment in your company who you sometimes see in the elevator— ask them how their day is going and be prepared to listen with interest. Go to the cinema without checking what films are showing. Watch the first one that starts after your arrival. Read a different newspaper/news site to the one you’re used to—perhaps one that doesn’t confirm your usual political views. Join a class for a spor t, activity, or hobby that you think you won’t enjoy. Keep an open mind and resolve to find out one new thing about this activity from the teacher or other par ticipants. Can you discover what others find engaging about it? Turn off all internet connections for one day. Be open to alternative means of finding out information and connecting with others and the world. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 October 2016 mindful 57