Discover the underlying reason for your boredom - and how to make your life more fulfilling

Author: Elly Prior | First published: 25-09-2010 | Modified: 20-10-2017

bored with life - bored childI know what you feel!

"Life is boring" or "I’m bored with life" or "my life is boring" - you may have searched for any of these phrases. All are pretty big statements and an indication that you feel anything from mildly displeased to mightily unhappy.

Before we start figuring out what’s wrong, it’s important that you know this article won’t magically stop you feeling fed-up, tired and depressed once you’ve read it. Instead (and more realistically!), I’m aiming to help you explore what might be at the bottom of your current state of mind. I can’t suggest which hobby you should take up, which job might be good for you or who your ‘ideal’ partner is - because I don’t know you. But you do. :-)

What I can tell you, though, is that you’re feeling like you do, because you are not meeting your essential emotional needs in balance.

By explaining this, I hope to encourage you to think differently about your situation. And then you can decide what you need to do to make things better for yourself.

Just before that…

We have a need for time and space to reflect, just like this pensive-looking gargoyle on top of a church. Not doing anything doesn't need to mean that you're bored.Being in a pensive mood is perfectly okay. Not doing anything and having nothing to do are different things. Both can have a purpose.

For you to feel fully alive...

  • You don't need to be famous
  • You don't need to be a well-know blogger, vlogger or any other internet personality
  • You don't need to live the life your partying FB friends apparently live
  • You don't need to own what other people own

In other words, you really don't want to be comparing yourself to anyone else. That won’t help you at all!

Matt Damon: Clearly being famous is no protection against boredom!

Important: if you’re feeling like you’ve given up on life altogether and you don’t see the point in it all, this could signal something more serious. So I’d really like you to take a look at my page on the warning signs of depression.

But if you’re just feeling fed up to the back teeth, let’s get  to the root of the problem and figure out exactly what we’re dealing with.

You've got essential emotional needs that must be met - in balance - for you to feel at your best!

Like all of us, you came into this world with needs (not wants) and inborn resources to meet those needs.

Imagine you were born in the middle of nowhere. Your first needs would be food, warmth and protection from the elements. You'd be dependent on a caregiver for those and therefore it would be in your interest to get their attention. Fortunately, you were born with the necessary resources to draw that attention. You'd naturally recognise the importance of following the faces around you. You’d already be able to suckle and you could cry. None of that you had to learn.

See how beautifully your inborn resources match up with your needs?

In the same way that you were born with physical needs, you were also born with emotional needs. I've already introduced you to the need for attention, but there are plenty of other essential emotional needs. (In this context, essential means they can only be acquired by your interaction with your environment.)

For the purpose of this article, I’ll only be talking about these needs in relation to discovering what’s causing your sense of boredom and disillusionment. Having said that, they’re all linked, and all contribute to your overall sense of well-being.

Here are our essential emotional needs:

  • The need for meaning and purpose
  • The need to feel stretched
  • The need for a sense of achievement
  • The need to be recognised for what you do, what you're good at and your accomplishments
  • The need for a sense of control (without becoming a control 'freak'!)
  • The need for giving and receiving attention
  • The need for a sense of community and belonging
  • The need for fun, friendship and laughter
  • The need for intimacy
  • The need for time and space to reflect in privacy

Download the emotional need audit

Download the printable Emotional Need Audit for free.

Keeping these needs in mind, it’s now time to ask the questions which aim to uncover the underlying problems that might be contributing to your boredom.

Uncover the real reason why you're so bored with life

Do you feel your life has meaning and purpose?

Just like every human being on this earth, in order for you to feel that your life is worthwhile it needs to be meaningful and purposeful. That provides the set of glasses through which you view the world and forms the basis of everything you feel, do and experience. Without a purpose, your life could quickly become a meaningless, never-ending stream of mundanity, or trouble and strife. It leaves you at risk of randomly applying yourself dispassionately to the first thing that presents itself, comes to mind or appears satisfying at that moment.

However, without that activity being challenging, worthwhile and purposeful you're soon left feeling depleted, tired and bored.

How come?

Your need for meaning and purpose is an inborn essential emotional need. You were born with a template - downloaded from your genes - that requires being ‘fulfilled’ in your physical environment. Your brain is primed to focus on whatever it can do to complete that task. It's up to you, though, to seek out the external resources to help complete, maintain and above all refine that template’s pattern. So...

  • What were you born to do?
  • What did you naturally incline towards as a child?
  • What held your interest?
  • What natural talents do you have?

You don’t have to have TV talent show ‘abilities’! Perhaps your talents are that you’re good with people, animals, arts, crafts, woodwork, numbers, music, languages, cooking, business, you name it - it doesn't matter. As long it's just 'you'!

Do you feel you're being stretched and are achieving something with your life?

Together with meaning and purpose, this is needs relates most directly to you feeling bored.

Are you still learning, regardless of your age or academic inclination? Do you feel you're achieving a satisfying level of competence in something that really interests you? Are you constantly updating your skills (and thereby boosting your confidence and self-esteem)?

It really doesn't matter what your particular skills are. Nor does it matter what level you're at - as measured by academic or work-related achievements. Instead, all that matters is your personal sense of satisfaction with your efforts (or lack of!).

There's no doubt that you're on this earth with individual talents and skills. You 'just' need to find, acknowledge and develop those. And do something with them you can feel passionate about.

You see, without that you're at risk of low self-esteem and feeling like you are boring! Imagine what it would be like to be able to talk passionately about a subject you're interested in and knowledgeable about.

If you don’t feel stimulated at work, or you don’t find opportunities for learning and growth, keep in mind - research has shown that that’s a health hazard! Both from a physical and emotional well-being perspective. 

Granted, you may not be able to change your job ‘just like that’. But if you know you’re not being stretched, it’s definitely time to start thinking about how you can make changes - at home and at work - to remedy that.

Here are some resources to start you off - for free (just copy and past the link into your browser address bar):

5 Online sites to find free courses

Screenshot: EdxYou could take a course to advance or change your career via Edx. Or, you could opt for taking a craft course via another provider. Just explore any of the sites below.

Edx.org - free online courses
OpenLearning.com - courses
Study.com - Free online cooking classes
BBC - craft courses

Lack of opportunity is no excuse!

Doing something new will help you to:

  • Divert your thoughts away from problems
  • Make new friends
  • Spend less time worrying
  • Feel excited and interested again
  • Have a sense of purpose again (most important!)
  • Ditch that sense of boredom
  • Do you feel you're achieving anything at all?

Do you feel some sense of control over your environment - at home and at work?

As you've discovered now, meaning and purpose, feeling stretched and a sense of achievement are important. They all lead to you being able to use those inborn templates and fulfil your innate potential.

Yet another need is the one for a sense of control and volition. That means that you need to feel your actions have a positive impact on your life. Granted, there is much in life we don't have any control over. But, we can take charge of much that affects us - without becoming control freaks. Look out for opportunities to make choices - even small ones would do the trick.

If you’re lacking in confidence, you may be avoiding anything that even remotely looks like having to leave your comfort zone. You probably feel unable to stretch yourself and thereby build your confidence and self-esteem. This limits your opportunities to actively take control of aspects of your environment and the way you lead your life. That, in turn, is likely to make you feel out of control and fearful. That vicious circle carries the risk that you increasingly withdraw from other people and situations that make you feel uncomfortable. You’ll let chances to develop yourself and your life pass you by. You might have given yourself tons of reasons why you can't do something. But I’m willing to bet none of them has been the real reason!

And guess what? You get bored! The problem is not your boredom, but your lack of confidence.

I so would like you to feel confident (again) so that you can engage with people and opportunities. And so that you're no longer held back by your fear. 

The first step for you is to challenge yourself with whatever scares you now.  Taking baby-steps is absolutely fine. You may find this easier to do with the help of some self-hypnosis (see my article: Hypnosis Downloads and FAQ). Or you could get the support and advice of a licensed therapist - or even a trusted friend.

Are you meeting your needs for fun, friendship and laughter?

You can't be bored when you have friends who also contribute to life in a positive way. They help you to fulfill your need for giving and receiving attention, as well as your need to belong.

Lacking in social skills? Take some online courses in social skills. Or in any other subject that you’re interested in - to give yourself the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Don't be shy about asking for help in this area. Talk to a trusted friend, a licensed therapist (further information on my page on online counselling) or explore self-hypnosis.

Cartoon: Bored man at a restaurant table holding a From now on - what's the menu of your life going to look like?

Are mental health problems preventing you from meeting your essential emotional needs?

If so, know that you're not on your own. At any one time, one in five people suffers from mental health issues. One in four will suffer in a life-time.

The moment you begin to take some positive action, you'll notice a lift in your mood. You’re likely to feel more in control and buoyed up.

That is, unless you're misusing your imagination (an inborn resource!) and begin to conjure up all kinds of reasons why something isn't going to work. If you do - stop that! Divert your attention to something more positive. It may be much harder to overcome feelings of dissatisfaction and boredom with life if you’re suffering with mental health problems - but it’s not impossible. You can find tons of information right here on my site to help you learn how to cope and heal.

You can also connect with a professional, licensed therapist. It's so easy these days to set up an online session on any device. For further information, see my page on online mental health counselling.

Being in a pensive mood is perfectly okay. Not doing anything and having nothing to do are different things. Both can have a purpose.

Is your relationship the problem?

Another innate need is the one for intimacy, and of course that sense of belonging, love, friendship, fun and laughter. As you’ve seen, much of that can be achieved by having friends, or great colleagues.

However, you'd expect the need for intimacy to be met if you're fortunate enough to be in a close couple relationship. If it isn’t met, you may feel bored with your relationship. But, the real problem is likely to be the general discord between the two of you.

Let's start with taking what you're feeling now at face value and see if and how it relates to you personally:

  • Have you felt bored in previous relationships?
  • Do you periodically begin to feel jaded?
  • Does it occur in discernible cycles?
  • Does it occur at similar stages in the relationship?
  • Can you see a pattern?

Our brain works by 'pattern matching'. It compares what’s happening in the here and now with a huge array of previously established patterns. These questions require you to think about your relationship history. They may uncover a subconscious pattern.

Are you both really committed and contributing actively and positively to the relationship? In other words, are you meeting both your needs to give and receive attention?

Do the two of you have a satisfying, enjoyable sexual relationship?

Know that if you commit to meeting your partner's need for attention, you're probably going to make a huge impact on your relationship. That is, unless they're addicted to getting attention and will grab it anywhere. It has to work both ways - they need to commit to meeting your needs too.

Have you been thinking about ending your relationship or marriage? If so, what’s stopping you?

If you have been thinking about ending your relationship, it's time to take action. When you're stuck, you're at risk of not only becoming mindlessly bored, but also helpless and not long after, hopeless and depressed to boot.

See also my page: Bored with Your Relationship?

Image quote: Remember, life is an ongoing process of creation. You are creating your reality every moment. - Neale Donald WalschCreating a new life - what is your first step going to be?

How to start changing your life

It's easy - when you start with tiny, oft-repeated steps. Choose one of the following to make a start...

5 Science backed tips to get you started on changing your life today

  1. Start exercising - begin with just twice a week for 30 minutes. Build up to 2 to 3 hours a week ideally. You need to get off the couch, come away from your desk, and your computer, laptop or any other screen. At the very least start walking - at a pace (there's even a hypnosis download for exercise motivation). Our brains developed millions of years ago around the expectation for movement. It still needs movement to function well. Dull brain, dull body, dull you, dull life. Give it a push!
  2. Stop waiting to be invited. Invite your friends, colleagues, the neighbours, the woman in the shop, the man behind the counter - anyone you like talking to. Plan, eat, drink (moderately) or have non-alcoholic drinks, watch movies, picnic, play games. Rinse and repeat. The Huffington Post published a great article on the importance of social connections.
  3. Change your eating pattern. Yes... I suspect you are nibbling your way through the day, just because you're bored! Food can change your mood - for better or worse. Read Dr Kelly Brogan MD's article on how depression is linked with your diet in ways you would never have thought.
  4. Get in touch with nature. Sit with your back against a tree watching the world go by and listen to the birds. If you live in an urban area, notice those tough but often beautiful weeds growing in the most unlikely places. Go out to discover the local parks. Notice the trees, see the insects going about their daily business, the beauty of the skies. Grow your own plants or veggies - at home, in your garden, or reclaim a patch of rough ground in your neighbourhood.
    Read this this article of the University of Minnesota's department: Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing.
  5. Find a charity and volunteer - I can’t think of a greater motivator and provider of meaning and purpose. It doesn’t cost much except for your time. Being of service to other people is a mood changer.
    Try different organisations, commit initially for no longer than a month, until you find something that's right for you.
    And, whilst you're out and about - look out for opportunities for Random Acts of Kindness. These too are great mood-boosters. And the process of looking for opportunities for RAoKs turns a boring commuter journey or shopping trip into a fun-filled game with positive intent. The prize? You feel happy for doing something kind, and someone else feels happy because of the kind thing you did. It’s a win-win!

Just for good measure - do watch this National Geographic video about the soothing impact of being in tune with nature...

Finally

If you keep doing what you've always done, you can't expect anything new to happen in your life. The only way you're going to be able to get over the problem of feeling bored is by taking action. I know you knew that, but maybe you didn't know where to start. So I hope I've given you some handles to tackle the problem now.

Figure out which of your essential emotional needs is (or are) off balance. Then think about how you can give yourself the interest, happiness and excitement you crave by meeting those needs. Get creative! 

Know that you're not here by accident. You are born with a unique combination of abilities and resources - there really is no-one on this earth just like you. Dare to step up to the plate and live your life your way!

Free printable download

Download the printable PDF of Bored with Live for free!

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Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)

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Elly Prior

Hello you! :-)

It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

Do feel free to ask for help. I would be delighted to write a few lines to support you (please keep it short).

Alternatively -  there are licensed therapists waiting to help you right now. You can connect with a therapist as often as you want on any device, whenever it suits you. For further information, see my page: Online Relationship Advice.