Growing up, if I complained in my home that I was bored, I would likely be assigned a chore to do. Generally, I chose to keep myself busy, playing outdoors or navigating the twisting corridors of my own imagination. Even when I had no friends to play with, I was able to fill my time and keep myself amused. It’s a tendency I’ve nurtured throughout my life. Being bored, even getting lonely, are things I experience rarely because I find myself interested in so many things.
Disinterest seems to be epidemic in our culture. In the dating world, I’ve often heard men complain of feeling both lonely and bored, and I have to admit that I’ve been baffled by this. I noticed a trend where men that I conversed with seemed to admit to difficulties having time on their hands. It seemed to them, if I’m understanding this correctly, to be a gap that needed to be filled, particularly with someone else’s company. I would sit on the other end of those conversations absolutely perplexed because my life feels so full. When I have time on my hands, I have so many interests that might surge forward to fill the time- or I might just take a nap and enjoy the stillness.
Being interested and curious about our world and the people in it seems to be a key component in also being interesting. What do we have to talk about if we don’t take an interest outside of our day-to-day routines? If we have so little interest in life, what can we contribute to a relationship, and can we actually sustain a long-term relationship? These are the questions that dance through my head as I’m hearing yet another complaint about boredom and loneliness. I have to suppress the impulse to suggest a chore. Force of habit, I know.
So how can we become people who leave boredom behind and find the world to be a bit more interesting?
We need to develop our interests. What are the things we’d like to learn more about or learn how to do? We can make a list of the things we find interesting and find a way to learn more about each of them. Do we love animals? We can watch a documentary on a favorite animal to learn more or research conservation efforts. Do we enjoy making things? We can learn how to build a birdhouse or construct a Little Free Library for our neighborhoods. We can take up crochet or learn how to pour our own candles. The long and short of it is: find something of interest and learn more about it.
We need to develop our curiosity. Not just in things but in people. Oftentimes, we get so caught up in our own story that we forget others have a story, too. When we’re interacting with others, we can make an effort to give them our undivided attention and to listen to what they have to say. But not just to the words. We need to pay attention to the nonverbal cues and the nuances of the conversation. When we ask someone how they are and they say they’re fine when they clearly aren’t, we can follow that up with sincere interest about their well-being.
We can stop waiting for other people to fill our lives. Sure, relationships can be wonderful. Those first few months can be downright intoxicating! Falling in love or even enjoying an infatuation are certainly enticing options, but I think we need to fall a little more in love with our own lives, regardless of our relationship status. We need to create lives filled with the things we love even if we don’t have anyone to share those things with. Isn’t it enough that we enjoy them? Instead of waiting for a new romantic interest to take up some of our time or for the current romantic interest to give us what we need, it’s time to give that to ourselves.
I hate to sound like my mother, the original Little Red Hen of moms, but if we’re really so bored that we have time to sit around and complain, there’s probably something we can do that’s productive. We could make a bed or clean out a closet, sure. But we could also take the time to do a few minutes of exercise or meditate. To clean our inner houses, so to speak.
Boredom and loneliness will, inevitably, creep in, but having a number of interests that excite us can help alleviate some of that. In turn, it also makes us more interesting humans to know. Did you see a film that changed your life? Tell us about it. Did you read a book that you enjoyed immensely? Why did it move you? Learn a little trivia and use it as a conversation starter, but don’t sit around and wait for someone else to fill up all of the empty spaces in your life. Let’s be a little more interesting than that!