Eager to make people laugh and without disowning his past with Tricicle, Carles Sans celebrates being... alone at last! A sentiment that’s the name of his first solo performance, ‘¡Por fin solo!’, which will tour theatres across Spain.
Josefa Ros Velasco
The disease of boredom
Boredom is negative because it creates discomfort, but, at the same time, it has a positive side: it encourages us to take the next step and grow as people. This is the general conclusion of Josefa Ros Velasco, 2022 Spanish National Research Award, precisely for her studies on an ailment that affects all human beings, albeit differently.
Philosopher Josefa Ros Velasco (Murcia, 1987) has spent years studying boredom, work which granted her the National Research Award by the Ministry of Science and Innovation in 2022. The author of La enfermedad del aburrimiento and founder of the International Society of Boredom Studies, the first scientific and cultural association in the world to study boredom, has focused particularly on its effects and consequences in nursing homes.
“We don’t like to admit that we find things boring because it’s frowned upon, but we must get over that sense of shame,” notes Josefa. In her opinion, we’re afraid of other people pointing a finger at us and thinking that if we feel bored it means that we lack talent, we’re not very creative, or we have a small inner world. For this reason, she encourages everyone to express their boredom freely and naturally: “We need to be aware that talking about what bores us is the only way to change this.” She’s been doing it for years.
Is being bored inherently bad or does it have a positive side?
Feeling bored is bad because it’s an experience that causes discomfort. But it’s also positive because it encourages us to take the next step. It’s the way we can explore an infinite horizon of possibilities. If we didn’t feel bored by certain things we experience in our everyday life, we’d feel stuck. It makes us grow as people.
“If we didn’t feel bored by certain things we experience in our everyday life, we’d feel stuck”
Do people feel perpetually bored?
Yes, some people always feel bored. Those of us who feel bored often create escape strategies in our minds, but some people remain trapped in that state. Chronic boredom depends on the conditions of the individual. Sometimes we know what we need to do to stop feeling bored, but we can’t always put it into practice. When someone complains about being bored day after day, it’s likely that they find themselves within contexts that don’t allow them to let their creativity run wild.
Can boredom lead to depression?
When we can’t get out of that state of chronic boredom, we react in an extreme way, which usually translates into dysfunctional behaviours. The relationship between boredom and depression, or addictions, has been researched, and that’s what really worries those of us who study this field. At nursing homes, for example, at the beginning this boredom usually manifests as sadness, not taking part in activities, or a lack of interest for the outside world. But when it lasts too long, the elderly stop eating, avoid medication, or practice self-harm.
“We shouldn’t fill our time with the first thing on hand to avoid thinking too much, because in the end, this ends up getting the better of us”
Is there a magical solution against boredom?
If only. Boredom takes hold of each person in different ways, which means that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Making sure that we spend our free time doing something meaningful involves thinking, being with oneself, and knowing oneself. When we feel bored, we should sit with this feeling for a while, analyse why it appears in this situation, and try to find activities that really make our lives feel meaningful to not get too comfortable. We shouldn’t fill our time with the first thing on hand to avoid thinking too much, because in the end, this ends up getting the better of us.
We live in a society where it seems like we always need to be busy doing productive things. Nevertheless, sometimes we feel the need to do nothing. Is that a problem?
Not at all. Doing nothing, if that’s what you’ve chosen to do, doesn’t mean being bored. Laying on the sofa with your thoughts, for example, is wonderful. Boredom comes when we’re forced to do nothing. And other times we’re bored doing things because they might not be meaningful to us. What we really want is free time, because human beings feel fulfilled by both being and doing. We’re aware that we have a limited lifespan and we’re encouraged to use it by doing things because stillness is similar to death, but these things must be meaningful to you because doing for the sake of doing also causes discomfort.
Is social media an outlet for boredom?
Absolutely. If we use them responsibly, social media are a blessing. They’re a tiny pill against short stints of boredom, like in the queue at the supermarket, where you’re forced to do nothing. I call it fast entertainment. But if we expect those small pills to satisfy us during a longer period of time, we’ll be hugely disappointed because we need something more to fill our lives with.
“Talented people who tend towards creativity are able to make better use of boredom than the rest of us”
Is talent a friend or foe of boredom?
I’d say a friend. We’ve all heard that boredom is good because it forces us to be smarter and more creative. This isn’t strictly true. Most of us never move an inch out of our comfort zone when looking for solutions to boredom and we take the easy route, like social media. What is true is that talented people who tend towards creativity are able to make better use of boredom than the rest of us. The more talented you are, the easier it is for your responses to boredom to be more functional, positive, and constructive.
Finally, tell us a film and a band that Josefa Ros uses to wave boredom goodbye...
The film is Shutter Island, with Leonardo Di Caprio. To avoid boredom, a film shouldn’t only be stimulating, but also include some surprises and grab the audience’s attention. This one ticks all the boxes, because if you watch it for the first time it’s one film, and if you watch it a second time, it’s a completely different film. It’s wonderful because boredom comes from repetition. In terms of music, someone who’s been alleviating my boredom for more than 20 years is Marilyn Manson. In fact, my book, La enfermedad del aburrimiento, starts with one of his quotes.