I've never been good at waiting around for something to do. If work slackens slightly, I volunteer for new projects that I will find challenging—and the way I race down the hall from one task to the next is the subject of a lot of good-natured office humor. My shoulder bag is always stuffed with reading material, to ward off idle moments during the train ride home. Truth is, I just really, really hate being bored.
One way I recently have staved off dullness is by reading Anna Gosline’s fascinating account of the complex psychological underpinnings of what she calls “this most tedious of human emotions.” In her feature article “Bored?” she explains how multifaceted those ho-hum moments actually are, influenced by levels of attention and awareness, emotional factors, adeptness at identifying one’s own feelings, and the nature of the matters at hand. Boredom can drive some people to achieve—but those who easily experience ennui are more prone to suffer chronic depression or drug addiction. Getting at the roots of boredom could help prevent and treat these ailments. The story begins on page 20.