Bored With Everything? Study Suggests Method for Regaining Pleasure

A woman is feeding her boyfriend a piece of cake.Boredom with life is a common complaint in therapy. That shiny new car is often less interesting a year later. Conversations with a once-exciting partner can seem humdrum after years of discussing the same topic. Some people turn to addiction and compulsive behaviors to recapture a sense of excitement. Others become depressed because life seems to have lost its thrill. Pleasure is an important motivator at every age, and it is closely linked to the thrill of novelty.

A new study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a simple strategy for regaining a sense of novelty in the mundane. The study says small shifts in the way a person does things—eating popcorn with chopsticks, for example—can help boring old activities seem new and exciting again.

How to Make the Old Feel New Again

The study included a series of trials that assessed the effects of novel approaches to old experiences.

Water trial: This experiment involved 300 participants. Researchers asked recruits to devise interesting new ways to drink water—such as lapping it up like a cat or drinking it out of an envelope. People who drank water in unusual ways said they enjoyed it more.

Popcorn trial: Researchers invited 68 people to take part in a study that they thought was about helping people eat more slowly. Participants ate 10 kernels of popcorn, one kernel at a time. One group used their hands to eat. The other ate the popcorn using chopsticks.

Participants then rated the experience on several measures, including how flavorful the popcorn tasted and how much fun it was to eat. People who used chopsticks enjoyed the experience more.

Researchers then had both groups eat 10 more kernels. After the second round, both groups reported similar levels of enjoyment. These results show the chopstick users’ first ratings were due to the novelty of the experience, not because the chopsticks made popcorn taste better. It also suggests novelty is most potent during first-time experiences.

Video trials: Two other trials asked participants to watch a minute-long video three times. One trial took place in a lab. The second trial had participants watch the video online.

Participants were divided into three groups. Each group watched the same video of a motorcycle ride filmed by the cycle driver. The first two showings were the same for each group. But on the third showing, the groups watched the video in different ways:

  1. One group of participants watched the video while making goggles with their hands. They were instructed to bob their heads as the motorcyclist moved.
  2. Another group watched the video playing upside down.
  3. A third group did nothing different.

The group that watched the video the same way as before had lost interest by the third viewing. The group who watched the video upside down also had low enjoyment. Researchers suggest watching the video upside down disrupted their viewing experience.

The hand-goggle group reported the highest enjoyment. The study’s authors speculate this may be because the goggles encouraged people to pay closer attention to the video. Their increased focus made the video seem newer and more enjoyable.

The results of the video trials suggest novelty alone isn’t enough to increase enjoyment. Novelty boosts one’s pleasure when it helps someone immerse themselves in the activity.

Injecting Novelty Into Daily Life

Taken together, the study results suggest novelty—even of an absurd variety—might help old experiences feel different. People who want to inject a little excitement into their daily lives can heed this advice by trying new versions of old experiences. For example, a jogger could boost their motivation by running in a different park. A couple could spice up date night by eating dinner at a lights-out restaurant.

A skilled therapist can offer personalized suggestions for revitalizing one’s routine. Therapy can help people rediscover a sense of enthusiasm and adventure. Even small changes can make a big difference.


  1. O’Brien, E. & Smith, R. W. (2018). Unconventional consumption methods and enjoying things consumed: Recapturing the “first-time” experience. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Retrieved from
  2. Why popcorn tastes better when you eat it with chopsticks. (2018, June 26). ScienceDaily. Retrieved from

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Bob


    February 3rd, 2019 at 4:53 AM

    This is literally the worst and least helpful thing I have ever read in my entire life.

  • Alyssa


    March 18th, 2019 at 10:09 AM

    I love you Bob

  • Nishi


    May 28th, 2019 at 11:14 AM

    Nah, that honor belongs to your dumba** comment

  • Mark


    June 24th, 2019 at 2:07 PM

    Nah, Bob nailed it on the head.

  • i love bob

    i love bob

    July 10th, 2019 at 4:32 PM

    i love you so much bob thank you for this comment

  • Dr F

    Dr F

    November 27th, 2019 at 1:05 PM

    Screw your bad therapy. reading bobs comment was better than your crummy suggestions

  • gabbyv


    December 12th, 2019 at 9:28 AM

    this article made me want to off myself and thanks to bob i did not.

  • John


    December 17th, 2019 at 12:50 PM

    Agreed. Eating popcorn with a stick? I think the problems with boredom overshadow that.

  • Hailie


    January 5th, 2020 at 6:12 PM

    literally yea, therapy doesn’t freaking help whatsoever. especially when your therapist quits on you .

  • Rebka


    June 19th, 2019 at 12:28 PM

    Haha, so right, Bob!

  • Bob


    July 25th, 2019 at 12:04 AM

    I agree with Bob

  • Baci


    August 5th, 2019 at 1:48 PM

    bob for president

  • Brandon


    September 10th, 2019 at 12:17 AM

    ME: I’m Bored With Everything Put your water in a bowl and drink it like a cat.

  • natasha


    November 25th, 2019 at 7:36 AM

    Laughing my head off at Bob.

  • Dale


    March 3rd, 2020 at 5:01 PM

    Bob, you’re my hero.

  • Alicia`


    April 22nd, 2020 at 11:48 PM

    Bob knows everything. Please literate us mortals, our prometheus.

  • Brandon


    May 3rd, 2020 at 11:55 AM

    i love Bob I think what Bob wrote last year has really helped us in this time of struggle and need. Thanks Corona Virus

  • Lynn


    June 15th, 2020 at 6:21 PM

    What’s going on here XD

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