Take a break from your hectic schedule, stop running around like a crazy lady, look up from your iPhone, and you might realize something unexpected: You’re bored.
Surprised? That’s because the way we understand boredom is off-base, according to a new paper in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
“We often think of boredom in terms of a lack of things to do,” says Mark Fenske, Ph.D., coauthor of the paper and professor at the University of Guelph. “The truth is, we also see boredom in over-stimulation—when you’ve got so much going on that you’re not able to focus on a single task.”
The researchers sought to define boredom, because once defined, it’s easier to battle. They arrived upon this: Boredom is “the state of wanting to, but failing to be engaged with a satisfying activity.”
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