Feeling bored? It matters. A lot.
Why? When we're following our dreams and being true to ourselves, we feel excited about life. We feel a natural flow of attention and vitality. When we are stuck, shut down, living in a life that's not a right fit with our values and aspirations, we get bored. Boredom is a warning sign that something important is off track in our lives.
With that in mind, here are 10 simple ways to end everyday boredom and restore full-color aliveness in your life:
- There are hundreds of simple ways to bring more moments of love into your life. Pay five authentic compliments each day. Make gifts or write notes to express love for the people in your life. Throw meaningful birthday or congratulatory celebrations for others. Give companionship to a person in need, perhaps a senior or child in your community. In any situation, particularly difficult ones, ask, "How can I be the representative of love here?" Bring more love into your life. You know, from your own lived experience, that a moment of real love, of giving or receiving or sharing or feeling it, is not a boring moment.
- Savor sensory pleasure. Beauty is exciting. Deliciousness is exciting. Simple pleasures, when noticed with attention, bring us right into the present moment. Don't allow that little voice in your head to convince you that you don't have the time or money to have sensory pleasure in your life. For a few minutes every day, take in a beautiful photograph, access free music that inspires you, savor a cup of tea or relish the feeling of a favorite sweater on your skin.
- Use your natural strengths more. Using our natural strengths gets energy coursing through our veins. If you aren't sure what your strengths are, complete the "Brief Strengths Test" (via University of Pennsylvania). Then brainstorm 10 simple ways you can increase use of your strengths. For example, if creativity is one of your primary strengths, but your current job role is all about following the rules, you might brainstorm how you can bring more creativity into your free time or family life.
- Go into "flow." In flow state, we focus completely on an activity and lose our normal sense of time, space and self. Flow is complete, absorbed, pleasurable attention. Activities that commonly put people in flow state are sports, dance, games, gardening, playing music, problem-solving, writing, creative arts and cooking. Each of us has a unique set of flow activities. Find out yours by reflecting on your past experiences or simply by experimenting, and practice a flow activity at least once a week.
- Tell some courageous truths. Want insta-excitement in your life? Say what needs to be said. Call out the tension in a relationship or a team. Name the elephant in the room. Share your unique view. Be thoughtful about how and when you do this, but also recognize that the little voice in your head that tells you "you can't speak that truth" is often overly cautious.
If the five tools above have you excited, fabulous. Go put them into practice. But if you are feeling too listless and apathetic to use them, you need to look deeper. These tools get to the root of persistent boredom and freeing yourself from it.
- Start a journal. Just start. Write about what is working in your life and what's not. What dreams got set aside along the way? What do you long for? What gives you a sense of comfort and rightness in your life now? What makes you feel disconnected from yourself or off track? What's draining your energy? Begin to unearth what's happening inside by writing about these questions. As you allow space for your feelings, dreams and questions, and things inside you start moving, boredom will recede.
- Inventory your comfort zone. In your journal, write an inventory: what's currently in your comfort zone? What activities -- at work and at home -- feel "safe"? What's out of your comfort zone that you think you'd enjoy but feel afraid of?
- Work with your fears. Next, work with the fears that keep you inside the comfort zone. As complex as our fears seem to be, I see again and again with my coaching clients that they come down to a) fear of failure, b) fear of rejection, or c) fear of the unknown. Name your fears in your journal and use these tools for moving beyond them.
- Ask yourself, "What have I decided is impossible?" You want to live in a major city, but you've decided that that's impossible. You want to go back to school, but you've decided that that's impossible. If you've labeled as "impossible" the life your heart longs to create, boredom will soon follow. Journal about this question and see what comes up. Then write answers to the question, "How could I make this possible?"
- Get excited about your next chapter. Your day-to-day routine may be a grind, but you -- your mind, your heart, your spirit -- are a rich and gorgeous territory. How would you like to grow in your next chapter? Would you like to become more patient, kind or brave? Would you like to forgive? Would you like to be free of some of the inner burdens you are carrying? What kind of personal growth feels compelling to you? Seek out resources to support you. Fall in love with your own quiet adventure.
Tara Mohr is a life coach and teacher who helps individuals live more authentic, fulfilling lives. Click here to visit her "Wise Living" blog, and here to receive her free guide, "Turning Your Goals Upside Down & Inside Out (To Get What You Really Want)."