Part of my investigation into the sounds and images of emotions – this post covers the emotion of boredom.

Boredom is an emotional state experienced when an individual is left without anything in particular to do, and not interested in their surroundings.

The first recorded use of the word boredom is in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens, written in 1852,[1] in which it appears six times, although the expression to be a bore had been used in the sense of “to be tiresome or dull” since 1768.

 Here’s a playlist of tracks that speak to boredom:

If you have any tunes that capture the feeling for you, or links and images – then please help add to the collection. You can leave a comment with a link, and if you want I can also share the Pinterest Emotion Board (below), or add you to the collaborative Spotify playlist.

In psychology, or if you have kids, there are three types of boredom, all of which involve problems of engagement of attention.

My daughter a few years ago. I took a series of pics of her with this magnifying glass before I realized I didn’t have any film in the camera. She let me take one more picture. I love her exaggerated sense of boredom.

Getting philosophical, Heidegger included about 100 pages on boredom, probably the most extensive philosophical treatment ever of the subject. He focused on waiting at train stations in particular as a major context of boredom.[12] In Kierkegaard‘s remark in Either/Or, that “patience cannot be depicted” visually, since there is a sense that any immediate moment of life may be fundamentally tedious.

Before, for me, peace could have been synonymous with boredom. ~Isabelle Adjani

On a revolutionary bent, according to Fromm, boredom is “perhaps the most important source of aggression and destructiveness today.” For Fromm, the search for thrills and novelty that characterizes consumer culture are not solutions to boredom, but mere distractions from boredom which, he argues, continues unconsciously.[16].

Always figured this as one of the key factors in the recent London Riots – a view supported by some investigations (Architects or should we say urban planning can take some of the blame here).

No, don’t protest, we are bored to death, there’s no denying it. Good. A diversion comes along and what do we do? We let it go to waste… In an instant all will vanish and we’ll be alone once more, in the midst of nothingness!” – Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

A little Psychology

Although it has not been widely studied, research on boredom suggests that boredom is a major factor impacting diverse areas of a person’s life. People ranked low on a boredom-proneness scale were found to have better performance in a wide variety of aspects of their lives, including career, education, and autonomy.[18] Boredom can be a symptom of clinical depression. Boredom can be a form of learned helplessness, a phenomenon closely related to depression. Some philosophies of parenting propose that if children are raised in an environment devoid of stimuli, and are not allowed or encouraged to interact with their environment, they will fail to develop the mental capacities to do so.

You’ll just paint me as the one that fled
You’ll just treat me as another thread
The kids grow up crying themselves to bed
The quilt we knit is absent of its necessary thread
We’re just living in an age of pain, we’re hurting every day
We exist to pay fees and bills we consume our happiness in pills
I go out and feed the hand that bites close your fist and shade the light
You stay home and keep the boredom at bay; I say I’ll make it up to you someday

Random cultural references

In Chapter 18 of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), the character Lord Henry Wotton says to a young Dorian Gray: “The only horrible thing in the world is ennui, Dorian. That is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness.”

The 1969 Vocational Guidance Counsellor sketch on Monty Python’s Flying Circus established a lasting stereotype of accountants as boring.[23]

The Yellow Pages used to carry an entry under Boring, “See civil engineers” (referring to the “tunnelling” meaning), but this was changed in 1996

I had a lot of fun at my cousin Lisa’s wedding. During the ceremony I witnessed one of the most terrible wedding photographers ever giving me a boost in confidence in my abilities, got free Jager Bomb’s all night, free prime rib, free cab ride back to the hotel, and of course a lot of laughs. Sara’s Aunt Mary did not have a good time! She gave us dirty looks all night, which is a contrast to her normally fun personality. We tried cheering her up to no avail. Finally as the night came to a close, she gave us the middle finger… LOL!

Emotional Image Research

If you’d like to help capture this feeling, and contribute to the forthcoming Emote exhibition then add a comment below. You can help by finding great images to exhibit, or add to Spotify Playlist or the Pinterest Emotional Board below:

Sunny morning blues

I’ve just started my diary here for the summer break. This morning this is how I feel. I’m excited about the summer, but slow and dreaming.

I love the idea of keeping a private diary, which is something I used to do as a child. Somehow keeping it “out there” feels like sending it off in bottle on the beach, that some day someone might read, long after I’m gone :)

Yellow is my favourite colour. It’s the colour of the sun. I dream in yellow.

Reading other peoples diaries on this blog is really moving. Some are sad, others just amazing, but I can really feel a connection. I may not make any other public posts (I’m normally a very private person), and I don’t know how many other people are here secretly lurking or writing down their thoughts and dreams, but to all of you I wish you the best of most beautiful of dreams!

Is it me?

Solid wall to wall emotional pain the last 2-3 days, lump in the throat, eyes sore, head intense, almost hurting and always dark. Sunny outside. Should be there, making happen – planting things. Will make myself go.

Source: via Amber on Pinterest


Thinking this morning over where this pain comes from, and how best to make it stop. There seem to be three ideas:  the mountain-man approach, the pain-is-part-of-life approach, and the rational-but-sad approach.

The mountain man, says it is a lesson in not becoming too dependent – these things happen, and you minimise your pain by accepting this and making sure you don’t give too much or go out on a limb solo. Get angry, and get over it.

The pain-is-part-of-life approach says that when you look at the big picture, worse things happen to other people, and it is how you deal with it that counts. Both mountain-men, and pain-is-part-of-life approaches avoid blame, and prevent thinking too much about the causes. Useful.

On the other hand, to think, and empathise is painful, and can be counter productive – and I do want to understand. I want to be strong enough to empathise, and work through it. It’s in my nature – even though I worry that it is too much for me right now. Still on with the puzzle…

The facts seem to be that after a couple of years of stalemate, a very destructive decision was made by my long term girlfriend. She could have come and talked and let me know she wanted to leave the relationship, and I would have been sad, but understood. I had been thinking the same. If that is what she wanted, I would have had no real difficulty. Much more important would have been to keep the friendship. Instead she chose to sleep with someone else and not tell me for nearly 6 months, damage our friendship and seven years work together all at the same time.

Why? Obviously to hurt me – that was part of it, but maybe also because she could not see how to make things better, because she felt she had no choice? This was something often said, and something I have tended to dismiss as a tactic to avoid the need of taking action – but let’s try to look at this more positively – lets look at this in someone else’s (maybe her) words.

Certainly there is the often stated idea that nothing she could do would be good enough, and that everything she has tried has not worked. Difficult to respect that – faced with the bare facts of no time or action invested – but the feeling is certainly there.

There is certainly also the idea that a relationship that has ended, needs space, and time, and that it never really works out in terms of friendship or conversation. I guess many people say that, but the facts tell another story – not that it is not possible, but just that they are just unable. I enjoy the company of several of my closest girlfriends, even when the separation was painful. It is possible, and I’ve experienced it.

Source: via David on Pinterest


In this case though, Lena, seems to have a strong desire to make a friendship possible. Just as with everything else with her, there is an equal and opposite expression – and an inability to act. Action was and is always the problem. So while my pain, and difficulties could be made so much less, by simple things, like saying sorry, like demonstrating the desire to repair a damaged friendship by investing and indeed repaying the time that was stolen – action is needed but never forthcoming. And action is never likely to be forthcoming with Lena – and just as it was in the relationship this is still so hard to accept.

Is it because she does not care enough about the friendship to invest the time, is it because she is too proud to say sorry, or is it because she genuinely believes the reasons not to act, or lacks the empathy to believe in the importance of repairing the damage caused?

The benefit of the first two approaches is that you do not have to think about why she fails to act. They both free head time for more positive things to think of. That way I wouldn’t feel constantly torn between wandering/worrying and thinking she-does-not-care, or switching to being concerned about her mental health, or then doubting my own worth. If only, but forgetting and not remembering is not a skill I have.


I am blocked. Specifically, not universally. I get inspired with others, but appear almost totally unable to produce alone.


It is as if I have caught the behaviour that was an issue with my ex. Either caught, or caught in the same pattern but this time with a ghost. I am unable to write alone, or work effectively with a deadline. Instead I wait, as if this ghost of a person with whom I am working is there and I am waiting for it to speak – to act first. In my previous, the pattern I was in, was that I would have no problem writing, or working, but would receive nothing back from my partner. And I would wait, for any number of reasons I would wait. Now that I am not in this passive aggressive relationship any more – I still find myself waiting, but now it is different. I seem to have caught her behaviour. I refuse to write myself.

Like her, I can write, or act about things that have no serious or direct implication towards real work – like these blog entires, or scraps and articles about random things, but as soon as it becomes real – I feel blocked. This is not how I was – it is as if I am playing both parts of the relationship out in my own head.

I used to think it was because I was depressed, suicidal. But it does not seem to be, or at least those labels do not easily apply. No it is specific, and I have caught something that i do not recognise – a pattern that removes any joy, and energy from my work. To release this feeling I just need to be with people, which strangely I suspect is what she also needed. Possibly. I wander if I am in danger of being this way to someone else. I wander if you can “catch” passive aggressive behaviour?

Love of Music

This is my favourite song that captures that loving feeling:

So now we can start to share music about emotions here. One caveat is that you will need Spotify to play the music, still it’s a nice extra and Spotify is a great service!

Or if you would like the full playlist (which includes half the story of this summer for me), try this:

Money can’t buy you love

But maybe it can buy you happiness?

The TED talk quotes this article on CNN. Here’s a quote:

Research in psychology and economics has found that people do get happier as their income increases, but only up to a certain level where they are comfortable. One of the more recent studies on the subject, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, found life satisfaction rises with higher incomesup to a household income of about $75,000, and levels off afterward.

In general, the research on the happiness of lottery winners is mixed. A 2006 study in the Journal of Health Economics of lottery winners in Britain who won up to $200,000 found an improvement in their mental well-being two years later. But an often-referenced study from 1978, comparing 22 major lottery winners with people who did not win, found no difference in happiness levels between the two groups.