Dealing with Both Sides of Boredom

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat February 11, 2013

Boredom is like a fog that periodically moves in and drenches everything with a mist; it becomes hard to see clearly. Sam Keen calls boredom "the common cold of the psyche" whereas many psychologists take it much more seriously, seeing it as a prelude to depression. This spiritual malaise has been charted by Georges Bernanos in Diary of a Country Priest, in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, in the contemplative writings of Evagrius of Pontus, and in the philosophical musings of Blaise Pascal.


Several articles we found on the Internet have amplified our understanding of boredom. In "The History of Boredom," Linda Rodriguez McRobbie charts the path of this mood from the Roman philosopher Seneca who saw it as a brand of nausea to the Christian monastics who described it as a "noonday demon" to pop artist Andy Warhol who once quipped "I like boring things." The article ends with a plea for readers to realize that boredom can be good for you by waking you up to the need to change you ways.

The New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis defends boring films on the grounds that they give our minds a chance to wander: "in wandering there can be revelation as you meditate, trance out, bliss out, luxuriate in your thoughts, think."


The same positive view of boredom comes across in Peter Toohey's "The Thrill of Boredom" where he salutes this feeling for enabling our lives "to run more smoothly and even more happily." For him, boredom can encourage creativity, stir up innovation, and help us make the most out of daydreaming as we envision all the wild new possibilities.

It turns out that boredom – like fear and anger – has its positive dimensions as well as its immense drawbacks. As spiritually literate people we are challenged to embrace both sides of boredom in our everyday lives.


About This Blog

Spiritual literacy is the ability to read the signs written in the texts of our own experiences. It is recommended and practiced in all the world's religions. Whether viewed as a gift from God or a skill to be cultivated, this facility enables us to discern and decipher a world full of meaning.

The Spiritual Literacy Blog is our attempt to read the book of the world as revealed through articles and images available on the Internet. We hope you find it interesting and inspiring. More. . .

Blog Authors

  • Mary Ann Brussat
  • Frederic Brussat
  • Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat