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Ask HN: How to Beat Boredom?

When I come home after work, it usually happens: I get bored. I keep asking myself "What should I do next?". It's hard to think that this is a "privilege of a free mind" and I know this is a first-world problem, but it doesn't help with the fact that feel bored. I'm not really satisfied with the situation. I'm not stressed, nor depressed — just bored. Any help?

Thanks, fellows!!!

20 pointsellinoora posted a month ago29 Comments
muzani said a month ago:

I think it's really about being passive. If you're passive, nothing can hook you. Everything (anything?) is enjoyable when it's an active activity.

Books should not be downloading content to your brain. They should be more of a conversation. TV is only fun when you're asking questions back - that's why things like anime, drama, and Marvel movies have such dedicated fandoms.

There's the Pirsig's brick principle. To quote a site: https://www.thestrategyexchange.co.uk/2014/05/pirsigs-brick/

"There’s a point in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance where the author, Robert Pirsig, is describing semi-autobiographically his experience teaching English ('Rhetoric') at a college in Bozeman, Montana. One of his students, a clever but unimaginative girl, has set herself the task of writing an essay on the US. Pirsig gently suggests that she try narrowing her focus a little, perhaps to an essay about Bozeman.

A few days later the girl is back, quite upset this time, because she’s struggling to get started, and she can’t understand why she should be able to write about a small and incidental town like Bozeman when she’d wanted to write about the US.

Pirsig, angered, tells her to write about a street in Bozeman, about one building there – the opera house – and to start with the upper left hand brick.

Puzzled she goes away, and a few days later turns in a lengthy and outstanding piece of work. She had sat herself in a coffee shop across the street, started writing about the brick, and it was like taking a cork out of a bottle. She couldn't stop writing."

antoineMoPa said a month ago:

Some suggestions that can add up to fill every minute of the day:

- Learn to play an instrument.

- Make a side project.

- Read a book a month.

- Plan a trip to somewhere.

- Hang out with friends/family.

- Go run outside.

- Work out.

- Cook some really nice food.

- Imagine what you could achieve for the world in 10 years and try to work towards that slowly.

Most importantly, don't get stuck in you cellphone screen for any time at all.

trumbitta2 said a month ago:

Have a kid, forget what boredom is

ellinoora said a month ago:

Haha. I experienced The Chaos, but it seems to last only until they are three or so. Now I have time for boredom again.

trumbitta2 said a month ago:

Mmm enjoy the boredom and think about it as a time for you to attentively choose what to do with your spare time?

hyperman1 said a month ago:

I get bored when I have too much to do, and none of it seems fun. Procrastination boredom if you want. My solution is to do anything small on my to list just to get started. Hardes thing for me was noticing this.

ethnologica said a month ago:

I love this question! I especially like that you point out to not being stressed or depressed.

How cool is it at a time where no one seems to have time and is depressed and stressed to experience boredom? Boredom sounds 90s, a time in which people practiced humanity! The world lays at your feet. Be active - draw, read books, go out, taste red wine, be creative, do photography, learn photoshop, play an instrument, get involved in an intense relationship with a friend, listen to classic music really loud, go an adventures and enjoy it. And enjoy boredom!

said a month ago:
downerending said a month ago:

Can't really recommend it, but I never feel bored when I drink.

Some philosopher(s) noted that boredom and terror are the two basic states of consciousness. I try to find useful distractions.

yesenadam said a month ago:

>Some philosopher(s) noted


>boredom and terror are the two basic states of consciousness.

What about happiness? Joy? Gee, believing that is no way to live. Even, say, Samuel Johnson, Kierkegaard and Schopenhauer I don't think were quite that dark.

downerending said a month ago:

I was thinking of Schopenhauer. And it's actually pain rather than terror, which should make us all feel a bit better.

I suppose he would argue that happiness is transitory, as is terror (usually).

“The basis of all willing is need, lack, and hence pain, and by its very nature and origin it is therefore destined to pain. If, on the other hand, it lacks objects of willing, because it is at once deprived of them again by too easy a satisfaction, a fearful emptiness and boredom comes over it; in other words, its being and its existence itself becomes an intolerable burden for it. Hence life swings like pendulum to and fro between pain and boredom, and these two are in fact it has ultimate constituents.” (The World as Will and Representation)

collyw said a month ago:

Do a ten day Vipassana meditation retreat. You will want to meditate any time you are bored afterwards.


It was actually a post on HN that inspired me to do one: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16842040

brador said a month ago:

Social or physical are the only things that will help. Home shower eat then straight out the door for sport, gym, run, meet-up, funtimes, discussion groups, board game night, whatever.

Your body and mind want to stretch and flex. Not sit in another box.

Get outside.

raveenb said a month ago:

Build a small aquarium and learn to care for the fish. No more than 10 fish. It's almost a zen exercise.

Boredom is good, its very hard to get bored these days with so many things needlessly wanting our attention.

But definitely try the aquarium.

yashvanth said a month ago:

Ah, boredom! This sure is a first world problem, I was there until a couple of weeks ago. Until I got into reading and meditation which has kept me busy for now. Give it a try!

Hope this helps, let me know what else you try, might help me too!

tluyben2 said a month ago:

I wrongly assumed boredom no longer exists (If I become a 1000 years old I still do not have the time to do the things I want and I only do things I want now... But I have ideas for 5 more projects daily and have had that since about my 10th. My friends more or less have the same thing); that assumption seems to be incorrect. How widespread would this be I wonder. I have seen it far more in poorer countries (2nd world?) because people have boring jobs or no jobs and spend their time hoping it will pass fast, so drink a lot and browse facebook all day.

yashvanth said a month ago:

There was no question of whether if it's a 2nd world issue or not, nor did I assure it isn't. Boredom is inevitable to humans, everyone has to go through it. We just have to find ways to keep us out of long stretches of boredom!

yesenadam said a month ago:

>Boredom is inevitable to humans, everyone has to go through it. We just have to find ways to keep us out of long stretches of boredom!

Well no, this isn't true! Gee. I haven't been bored in like 30 years. There are so many things to do in this world - now the problem is I need more lifetimes to do them all. Like 5 or 6 at least. Then I always have a good book on me, if I have to wait in an office or something. And a notebook to write down ideas. (I've never had a mobile phone) Plus I'm a musician, so can always play in my head. (It feels just like playing a real piano or guitar.) And I learnt to draw and paint, and learnt how little we usually see things, so I can spend hours looking at the details of a scene. Then there's reminiscing, making plans, talking to myself in Spanish–a language I'm learning etc etc.

Hmm also years ago I read about that what is unpleasant about boredom is rebelling against it. If you just accept it and sit with it, it's fascinating. (The suggestion to meditate is a great one. Focus on your breathing. Just keep returning to that. Stop judging your thoughts!) I developed a way of not waiting e.g. for buses. Waiting is unpleasant–but just being there isn't - it's wonderful. Waiting is a state of mind, a state of lack, not having what you want. (The way spiritual seekers define themselves as not having what they want! But always seeking it.. I stopped doing that too.) I could go on, but in short - develop your mind and your life.

tluyben2 said a month ago:

Sure, I just had not heard of it for a long time so was simply interested how common it is among people above, let’s say, 20 y/o.

volument said a month ago:

Thanks! Reading makes a lot of sense. Especially fiction, since I'm so bored of all the tech books.

jerome-jh said a month ago:

Whether fiction or technical, read a _physical_ book. As soon as I open the laptop I am sucked into a black hole and many times, I forget the reason why I opened it in the first place. I end up always reading the same sites, doing the same shit, ...

You could also cook: not necessarily complicated things. Just cook you meals from basic ingredients, fresh or frozen.

romain_o said a month ago:

Boredom is usually a good thing. You can use this time to meditate and just let your mind wonder. I love it. Doing nothing is much harder than doing something actually.

quickthrower2 said a month ago:

Maybe try some meetups? Do a new one each week. Some techie, some social, some fitness oriented.

totaldude87 said a month ago:

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time - Marthe Troly-Curtin

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mousadafousa said a month ago:

I highly suggest listening to Sam Harris's take on this subject.

Here's an (entertaining) 2-minute video summarizing his cure for boredom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-175C95uGE

kleer001 said a month ago:

Get a hobby.

cvaidya1986 said a month ago:

make something