Why most introverts are hardly ever bored

Don’t you get bored being alone so often?” Every time someone asked me that question, I was a bit surprised. How can you get bored? And what does being alone have to do with it? Most surprising to me was that the people who asked me that question were 100% serious. Needless to say, those who asked did not identify with being an introvert.

I can agree with the definition of bored as feeling weary and impatient because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one's current activity. In a world where “doing” is often synonymous with productivity, and where productivity is highly valued, I can understand the desire to always be doing something and to spend your time wisely. After all, we cannot get our time back, so it makes sense to spend it productively.

Defining time well spend

The big difference to me is how you define “time well spend”. And that is where many people who are more introverted have quite a different view than those who are more extroverted. “Doing” and being productive, in our society, often comes down to being able to list all the things that kept us occupied during the day. A lot of that (if not most) comes down to having made progress and/or having something to show for. And that’s exactly where many introverts see things a bit differently. To those more introverted, making progress often has a broader definition and includes making progress internally. What is often difficult for many extroverts to understand is that slowing down or doing less can fall 100% within an introvert’s definition of moving forward.

Being versus doing

But how does that relate to introverts hardly ever feeling bored? Well, most introverts have an incredibly wild imagination which keeps them engaged and occupied throughout the day (even when we should probably be focussing on other things). Another big thing for introverts is that we often value just “being” a lot more than extroverts do (I know that’s a strong statement but hear me out). Sitting on a sofa with a cup of tea when it’s cold outside, just enjoying the warm cup in your hands while taking in the scent of the tea and the overall feeling of cosiness of being inside on a cold day can often be enough for an introvert to feel perfectly at ease. “Aren’t you bored?” “Bored? No not at all, I’m drinking tea.” To many extroverts that would be an utterly ridiculous answer whereas to many introverts it makes complete sense. Being in the moment and enjoying what you’re doing has great value, you don’t always have to do something to feel productive. Often just calming down in the moment is an excellent way for someone more introverted to recharge after which we feel ready to do what extroverts would consider productive.

We’re all being more than we think

To many people the whole concept of “being” is automatically linked to spirituality, mindfulness, or even considered woo-woo stuff. And to an extend I suppose it is (though I wouldn’t call it woo-woo). If we’re honest, everyone has those moment. Whether it’s walking your dog not thinking about anything other than just enjoying the time with your dog in the park, when you’re laying on the sofa with your partner not saying anything or thinking about anything but just enjoying the time together, or when you let your favourite music carry you away and before you know it an hour has passed, we all have more of these moments that we realize. Introverts have the tendency to spend quite a lot of time that way, we do it consciously and deliberately, and we tend to love it.

An example

People who really like to keep themselves busy (which comes more natural to those more extroverted because of their stronger need for external stimuli) often see less value in the simple and slower things that give a lot of internal satisfaction. I remember deciding to fold 1000 paper origami cranes (according to an ancient Japanese legend, anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. Who could say no to that right?). When I got asked what I did the previous evening and I said I folded around 50 paper cranes, the look on some people’s faces was hard to describe. It was almost as if there was a big ERROR sign on their foreheads. For the life of them they could not understand how anyone could ever voluntarily do something like that whereas for me it was very enjoyable. Relaxing music and fully focussed on the next fold. In a way it was soothing, calming, and meditative. There was more to it though, when I explained that it was also about commitment, discipline, and challenging myself it made more sense to them. Still, those more extroverted made it abundantly clear they did not consider that enjoyable and would never do it themselves while those more introverted saw the appeal and a few even ended up folding a couple of cranes themselves.

A rich inner world

It’s just on example of something that would be unimaginably boring to many extroverts (even though there was actual “doing” involved as I ended up with 1000 paper cranes) but can be very enjoyable for those more introverted. Something else that keeps a lot of introverts occupied is their rich and creative thoughts. Seeing an introvert sitting on a sofa all curled up just staring off into nothingness would be cause for concern for many extroverts. However, while someone observing might come to the conclusion that person is doing absolutely nothing and is maybe even wasting time, that person sitting quietly staring off into space might be in the middle of a wild adventure in their own imaginary fantasy world or following their imaginary detective solve a crime. I wouldn’t be surprised that an extrovert reading this will think something along the line of “are you serious?” while at the same time, most introverts reading this would come closer to thinking “duh…of course”.

Introverts like doing things as well, we just seem to be a lot more comfortable with just being than many extroverts. Whether that’s being in the moment, being in our own heads, or contemplating the purpose of life. We are quite comfortable being with nobody other than ourselves, which includes our thoughts, and feel perfectly at ease doing what many extroverts would consider to be utterly boring or even a waste of time. Introverts are experts at cultivating their inner world which is a powerful and even necessary contributing factor to our outward performance including while at work.

So, do introverts get bored? I’d say hardly ever. And when we are, we often find a way to find some sort of meaning and/or value in what we are doing to somehow still enjoy it.

Are you regularly bored? Consider finding an introvert friend or colleague and just tell them you’re struggling with being bored. You’ll be surprised with the suggestions they come up with. If you keep an open mind you might find a whole new world opening to you with plenty of things for to explore and try out. Or not, which is fine too.

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Carl Jung coined the terms introvert and extrovert almost a century ago and there is a well-known quote associated with him. “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert, such a person wou