How to End Boredom at Home Without Resorting to Anything Too Weird

How does a couple get past mutual boredom? Behavioral economist Dan Ariely suggests they reframe their perception of the dilemma.

Dan Ariely: Somebody asked me about boredom in their lives. So this was a woman that said her husband works out of the home; she works from home. Every day he shows up and they say, "What are we going to do tonight?" And she said they've gone to every restaurant in the near vicinity multiple times. They know the menu by heart. They can't find anything exciting to do that they agree on and because of that they either end up watching TV, which they both don't like, or they go to one of the restaurants that they've been to too many times.

So think about this question and say, "OK, it's not just about husband and wife." I said look, if we take a step back and we think about what this question is all about, it's a question about finding mutual solutions, a mutual solution. You have two parties and the two parties are trying to find something now that would be better than every restaurant or TV, but you don't seem to find that. You don't have something that you both enjoy more than something else that comes easily to mind. So what happens is you do nothing interesting. So I said, "What if we changed this problem from a simultaneous solution to a sequential solution? What if instead of looking every day for something that you both enjoy, why don't you look for something that at least one of you really loves? Maybe it would not maximize your mutual happiness every day, but every other day one of you would get to do something that you really enjoy." So imagine, for example, that I have one set of preferences and you have different preferences. In the simultaneous solution, we're looking for something that we would both like more than TV, but if that thing doesn't exist, is TV always the right thing to do or should we one time go ballroom dancing, which is something you really love and sometimes go to a book club, which is something I really love? And each of us would not be as happy on that particular day when the other person's preferences is coming about, but together we will do more fun things.

And then on top of that I said, "Add some random experiences into the pile." Life is about trying new things and certainly often we settle way too early. We try some things. We find some things that we like, but we stop exploring. We don't try lots of different things. We don't try lots of new things because of loss aversion, because if the idea that if something is good, it's great, but if something is miserable, it's really unhappy. We really lose lots of happiness. But I suggest that what you should do is put some things in there that you don't know if you'll enjoy or not enjoy — pottery classes. Things that you have no idea from time to time you might have a miserable night and maybe laugh at it, but from time to time it might be really fantastic.

How does a couple get past mutual boredom? Behavioral economist Dan Ariely suggests they reframe their search for solutions. Instead of fruitlessly seeking out activities they both enjoy, a simultaneous solution, they can instead aim to satisfy one party on day one and the other on day two — a sequential solution. Like many problems in life, the solution to domestic boredom may very well be to rethink the question.

The 10 most influential women in tech right now

These thought leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs are propelling the kind of future we want to be a part of.

Credit: Flickr, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch
Technology & Innovation
  • The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
  • The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
  • This list is by no means all-encompassing. There are many more influential women in tech that you should seek out and follow.

Keep reading Show less

Teen popularity linked to increased depression in adolescence, decreased depression in adulthood

The results of this study showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence, declining in early adulthood and then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.

Credit: Dragana Gordic on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
  • This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
  • There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
Keep reading Show less

90,000-year-old human hybrid found in ancient cave

Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.

Researchers in a chamber of the Denisova cave in Siberia, where the fossil of a Denisova 11 was discovered. CreditIAET SB RAS, Sergei Zelensky
Surprising Science

90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.

Keep reading Show less

In quantum entanglement first, scientists link distant large objects

Physicists create quantum entanglement, making two distant objects behave as one.

Credit: Niels Bohr Institute
Surprising Science
  • Researchers accomplished quantum entanglement between a mechanical oscillator and a cloud of atoms.
  • The feat promises application in quantum communication and quantum sensors.
  • Quantum entanglement involves linking two objects, making them behave as one at a distance.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast