Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Don’t let boredom kill you

Can you actually die of boredom? A new study by researchers at University College London claims that it can. The findings reveal that those who reported feeling a “great deal of boredom” were more likely to die young. This is because those unhappy with their lives turn to unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking and overeating, thus, cutting their life expectancy, scientists explain. The study found a link between boredom and heart disease.

Fortunately, boredom, unlike depression, is not an illness and can be easily treated, with a non-medical prescription. Over a period of time, however, boredom can lead to depression. But that’s another story.

The findings are as relevant to India and elsewhere as they are to the UK where the study was conducted.

More and more people in India, particularly the young and the frantic, are complaining of boredom than ever before. These days you are more likely to hear people in their teens and twenties repeatedly say “I am so bored” or “My life sucks!” It’s also become fashionable to parrot these words. Either way it’s not a very healthy sign.

Boredom—the feeling of being bored or uninterested—comes from a total lack or absence of mental and physical activity or occupation. The irony is that even if you are doing something, you could still be bored, simply because you find the task on your hands dull, repetitive or tedious.

Those who complain of boredom have no right to say they are bored. It implies that they can find enough things to do if they want to, but they choose not to. In other words, they are plain lazy or preoccupied with themselves actually doing nothing. Imagine that!

I know people, on the other side of boredom, who complain of having too little time to do all the things they want to do. They must wish they could buy other people’s boredom, like carbon credits.

On a simple note, you can break boredom by forcing yourself out of your self-imposed mental stupor and cultivate existing or new hobbies and creative pastimes, turn to the mystics, be among friends, or take up causes with a purpose. This will help you pull yourself up, not to mention those putting up with you. Boredom can be infectious sometimes.

Boredom is also often associated with loneliness or emptiness, but it need not necessarily be so. If I remember correctly, it was Khushwant Singh, the celebrated Indian author and columnist, who once said, “I may be alone, but I am not lonely.” That is so true.

Remember, there’s always plenty to do, there’s never enough time to do it. So, be a bore if you like but don’t be bored.

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