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Archive for October 24th, 2007

Why do some people get bored so easily and others do not? Why, for example, can one person fully enjoy watching a sunset and another person find the experience just about the most useless, mind-numbing experience on the face of the planet?

The answer to those two questions could lie in how each one of us uniquely seeks and avoids certain levels of stimulation. Think of the person we might label as a “hell raiser.” They are constantly seeking and often finding a high level of stimulation. Wild parties. Maybe racing a motorcycle at two in the morning. At the other extreme is the Buddhist monk, who has purposely reduced his interaction with minimal external stimulation. And yet, both may be very satisfied with their situation — perhaps even happy about it.

Unless we are indeed Buddhist monks, the rest of us seek certain levels of stimulation, which in turn generates arousal in our nervous system. Some people require greater levels of stimulation than others, which Dr. Maynard Shelly calls “H-Types (for High levels of stimulation). Those with a low need for stimulation are called “L-Types.”

Why is this significant? Because it explains, in part, some behaviors and attitudes. If someone has a high need or threshhold for stimulation and doesn’t get it (or it runs out), he or she will most likely say they are “bored.” That in itself may not have much significance unless this constant “thirst” for stimulation is thwarted (thereby elevating a level of frustration or anger) or if this behavior leads to other pesonal choices that may not be in the long-term interest of the individual. For example, the addictive power of cocaine and its stimulating high can lead to other negative behaviors (such as theft or poor work performance). To compound the problem, the high wears off and it takes more cocaine to sustain the same stimulation — a vicious cycle with no positive outcome.

The quest for stimulation and avoidance of boredom can be seen as one of the primary drivers of human behavior today.

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