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Going with the flow

22 Oct 2013

The other day I was asked if I ever got bored spending so much time in the hot tub. At first I was a little bemused by the question; why would I feel bored? Lying in a hot tub is one of the most relaxing things that I know; there is nothing boring about it. Then I started thinking about the concept of boredom, why is it that sometimes we feel bored?

What’s Boredom?

First of all I have to admit that boredom isn’t a feeling that encroaches very much on my life. Naturally there are times when I feel bored. I find some things quite boring, for instance some TV shows or some books. Waiting for a train or a bus can be boring, and spending hours at an airport can be excruciatingly boring. We can even get bored with things that once we really enjoyed; I have always been an avid fan on Formula One Motor Racing,  that is until the current season which I have found to be a complete turn off and totally boring. But some unfortunate people seem to be bored much of the time.

What is boredom? According to some psychologists it is a temporary unpleasant emotional state in which the individual feels a lack of interest and an inability to concentrate on what he or she is doing currently. People tend to feel bored when they are prevented from doing things that they want to do; when they are forced to do things that they don’t want to do; and when they simply can’t get into what they are doing.

Some people are prone to feeling bored, and this applies particularly to people who have problems in concentrating and in paying attention. While for most of us boredom is just a relatively trivial irritation in our lives, for people who are particularly prone to it,  it can lead to a whole range of problems: emotional, psychological, educational and even physical.  There is little doubt that boredom is also associated with apathy, that feeling of not caring a damn about anything.

Happiness, Happiness

Happiness is the very opposite of boredom and according to the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi we are at our happiest when we are experiencing what he calls ‘Flow’. Effectively this means when we are completely immersed in what we are doing and that we are enjoying doing it; we feel positive about the activity and we feel energised by being involved in it; we are in the zone; in tune; turned on; joyful; we are going with the flow.

While some people have a propensity to boredom, others have a propensity to going with the flow. This type of person has what is termed an ‘autotelic’ personality.  Rather than being driven externally by money, power and fame, they are internally driven by a sense of curiosity and purpose. This applies in work, in family life, when communicating with other people, when eating, in fact in just about everything they do. They are also autonomous and not susceptible to being manipulated by others.
If the Cap Fits…

As they say, if the cap fits wear it. I’ll just check that the temperature of the hot tub is warm enough and then settle down and just go with the flow.