Boredom has had a lot of bad press over the years. Author Orrin Klapp described boredom as a ‘deficit in the quality of life’; Sigmund Freud believed that people who were prone to day dreaming were neurotic; and German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer called it ‘a reminder of the meaninglessness of human existence’. Even Charles Dickens, who is said to have introduced the verb ‘to bore’ into the English language back in 1852 – in his aptly named novel Bleak House – saw it as such a dreary mental state that he defined it as ‘to pierce, or wear down’.
At least some of this negativity is completely valid: boredom has been linked to the kind of behaviour one is generally encouraged to avoid, such as mindless snacking, inattentive driving, binge-drinking, risky sexual choices, poor impulse control and pathological gambling. Chronic boredom has been identified as a strong predictor of paranoia, and other studies have found that a propensity for boredom was also an indicator of a greater risk for anxiety, depression and OCD. (To be clear, boredom doesn’t cause any of these conditions, but being prone to boredom may be a contributing factor.) Poor academic performance, high dropout rates and mistakes made on the job have also been traced back to boredom.
Most of us will go to great lengths to avoid feeling bored. (It’s why Candy Crush exists, if you ask me.) One study even found that, when